Archive for the ‘Maduro’ category

What are Venezuela’s huge protests really about?

June 13, 2017

What are Venezuela’s huge protests really about? American Thinker, Javier Caceres, June 13, 2017

CARACAS — With 65 dead in the last 60 days of marching in the streets, it’s worth looking at what these protests are really about: a constitutional crisis that strikes at the heart of rule of law in Venezuela. This is more important than the food shortages, the dissident harassment, the crime and corruption or any of the other factors that also fuel the protests. Basically, freedom itself is at stake.

Venezuela’s constitution, which is the basis of its rule of law, is under fire as never before.

To take one example, Venezuela’s attorney general declared a Constitutional Court sentence unconstitutional, and thus ruptured the country’s long constitutional tradition. After that usurpation of power, the constitution was effectively rewritten on President Nicolas Maduro’s intervention, putting an end to the separation of powers that has always been integral to rule of law in Venezuela.

For that alone, Venezuelans are protesting, and Maduro finds himself rejected by 80% of Venezuelans according to polls.

But the constitutional crisis has more than one dimension. Despite the judicial meddling described above, Maduro also proposed drafting an entirely new constitution even though a simple reading of three of the articles of the present one do not let him do it unauthorized. But, Venezuela’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court confirmed he can do it on the grounds that “he is the people.”

It shows that Venezuela’s constitutional crisis has come a long way from its orgins as an apparently normal document. How did it come to this?

It happened when the late President Hugo Chávez in 1999 first asked Venezuelans if they wanted a new constitution and held a referendum about it. In that vote, the people said ‘yes’ and after it was drafted there was an Approval Referendum. Because the people said ‘yes’ again, that is how the current constitution came to be.  Then in 2007, when Chávez submitted changes to the 1999 Constitution, in another approval referendum, the people said ‘no’ to his proposal. Whatever its merits, it worked tolerably well institutionally.

There are three constitutional articles at stake in this current crisis:  Article 5 that says the power belongs to the people by their votes and it’s not transferable.   Article 348 says the president has the initiative to ask people if they want a new constitution accompanied by basic considerations such as how many people are going to be elected to the Constitutional Assembly, or the time they are going to be deliberating among other matters.  Then a third article, number 347, says the people are the ones who decide if they want a new constitution. Only after people say ‘yes’ to a Consultation Referendum, can the process continue.

The president changed all of these norms when he said he did not need to ask people if they wanted a new constitution. After the Electoral Board’s silence, the seven Magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, the judges who interpret the constitution, sided with the president, ruling that the president represents the people so there is no need to ask.  After this decision, the attorney general asked the magistrates to clarify and explain how they interpret the constitution so as to transfer the power of the people’s voting rights to decide to draft a new constitution to the president. There is little chance the magistrates are going to respond because they are not obligated.

The two constitutional breaches described are so ridiculous that even fifth-grade elementary textbooks, which currently say that to have a new constitution there must be two referenda, one to ask the people if they want a new one and another to get their approval with the draft, will need to be rewritten.

Maduro’s route was to go directly to the Electoral Board, which is in theory an independent branch although it has significant ties to the government, asking them to go ahead with his proposal.  The board said ‘yes, Mr. President let’s do it,’ failing to use their criteria and powers to block the president’s wish because he wasn’t asking the people first, just as any fifth grader would have been taught.

Making things worse, Maduro said that after he got the changes he wanted, there would be a Consultation Referendum instead of an Approval Referendum, the difference being that the first is not binding in case people say ‘no.’

People are not dumb. They know Maduro is backed by a bought-and-paid-for military directed by Cubans and another army of seven magistrates of whom nobody knows how they got their law diplomas, their masters’ degrees, and their doctorates.

This is why at least 50% of the 80% of the people that are against Maduro have gone out at least one day during the last two months to protest in the streets and many have gone out much more. What’s at stake now is the last chance to keep Venezuelans’ freedom and not be another Cuba or communist-style country. Venezuela’s protestors don’t want a country whose contitutions can be manipulated and changed at will, and where the only solid reality is that the country’s rulers are chosen by Cubanized party elite inside the government. That is a privilege that belongs to the people alone, and by their marching, the Venezuelans are showing that they know it.

Javier Caceres is the editor of, a leading opposition Internet site located in Caracas, Venezuela.

Don’t Allow Lobbyist And Deceiving Voices Conceal The Truth About Venezuela

May 25, 2017

Don’t Allow Lobbyist And Deceiving Voices Conceal The Truth About Venezuela, Center for Security Policy, Luis Fleischman, May 25, 2017

More than fifty days after mass civil disobedience began in Venezuela, more than 50 people have died at the hands of the government.

People have lost fear and the government is resorting to more measures that are repressive to subdue the population. The idea is to make every effort to stay in power regardless of human casualties. Thus, the Venezuelan government is launching the so-called “Plan Zamora,” an unclear plan and has not been published in a written form. This makes the plan even more unpredictable and dangerous. So far, “Plan Zamora” has been applied on three Venezuelan states, Táchira, Carabobo, and now Barinas (Chavez birthplace).

“Plan Zamora” consists of a military-civic coalition that includes national guards, the military, militias, and para-military groups. The purpose is “to prevent a coup d’état” and “to restore order” in the face of protests. This means increasing repression, assassination of protestors, and SA-style elimination of opponents.

Indeed, in the last several days, five protestors were treacherously murdered under the plan. It is a system aimed at intimidating protestors to the point of dissuading them from further joining demonstrations.

Maduro has also proposed a constitutional reform aimed at eliminating the National Assembly, currently dominated by the opposition. A new constitution would be drafted by a new constituent assembly elected by the local city halls and by community groups, carefully picked as stooges of the Maduro regime. The move would secure power consolidation in the hands of Nicolas Maduro.

The United States has once again increased its sanctions on Venezuela’s chief Supreme Justice and seven other members of the Supreme Court. Such step was taken in reaction to their decision last month, to strip the opposition-controlled National Assembly. Those sanctions will freeze their assets within U.S jurisdiction and no U.S citizen will be allowed to do business with them.

This is an important step as it discourages government officers from obeying illegal and unconstitutional orders. However, it remains insufficient given the magnitude of the regime crimes. From now onwards every military officer, every security official, and every government official that follows the government must be sanctioned. Likewise, every single individual involved in the drug business, which is today a huge government business. The purpose of these measures should be to encourage desertion from the government.

Furthermore, the Trump Administration should not compromise with lobbyists or with members of Congress that have been lobbied by the Venezuelan government. Most such lobbying is conducted through CITGO, the U.S based company associated with the Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA. So far, CITGO has scored incredible successes, which are scary in terms of how foreign agents can corrupt Washington. Former Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) effectively prevented the Senate from passing sanctions legislation against Venezuelan government officials in 2014. Former Congressman Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) was in charge of Citizens Energy, a non-profit organization that distributed heating oil provided by CITGO to U.S poor neighborhoods, to buy the good will of the U.S establishment.

The same applies to U.S business interests that, so far, have prevented full sanctions against CITGO and PDVSA. This step is also long overdue that could have devastating consequences for the Maduro regime.

Trump’s campaign promises included the curbing of such lobbyists and we hope and expect that the president makes good on his promises.

Additionally, Venezuela has its own conscious and unconscious accomplices in its disinformation campaign in the United States. This week the Rev Jesse Jackson warned the Trump Administration not “to help get rid of a regime it does not like,” as if Venezuela were not a huge violator of human rights or the number one sponsor of international transnational crime. He praised the regime founded by Hugo Chavez as one that brought about reduction of poverty and improvement in health care services, as if Venezuelans were not facing hunger now or as if they were any safer in the face of government-sponsored violence. Worse, Jackson criticizes the old elite that ruled Venezuela before Chavez and forgets the new class of billionaires that the Chavez regime created by allowing them to benefit from dubious businesses, government connections, and plain corruption. This includes his own vice president, who in his early forties has accumulated a fortune of 3 billion dollars in a supposedly socialist and egalitarian regime.

Jackson accuses the United States of mobilizing the Organization of American States (OAS) against Maduro, when in fact the person taking the lead is the OAS Secretary and former Foreign Minister of a Uruguayan president with strong left-wing credentials. Jackson forgets that OAS members are appalled by the violations of the organization’s democracy charter and human rights commitment. Furthermore, countries of the region such as Brazil and Colombia are concerned that drug cartels are receiving Russian weapons from Caracas, including MANPADS, a shoulder-launched surface to air missile. The Swedish government also confirmed that such missiles were found in a camp ran by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Last but not least, Jackson called to follow the initiative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a Caribbean country that has accused the OAS of being a “weapon of destruction” against Venezuela. But Jackson does not mention that St. Vincent as well as other Caribbean countries benefitted from Venezuelan oil largesse in exchange for political support. Furthermore, as I wrote a few years ago, several Caribbean countries that are part of Venezuela’s political Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) have issued passports to Iranians, presumably at the request of Venezuela.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines itself produced unreliable travel documents, where anybody may obtain a new passport and easily change their names. It is reasonable to assume that Iranians could have taken advantage of this vulnerability. Likewise, St. Vincent forged an alliance with Iran, who sent the island US $7 million for social projects.

The Trump Administration, as well as the media and the public, must be aware of these facts and politically fight obstacles that prevent us from carrying out the obligation to protect our national security, the security of the region, and the values for which America stands.

Diplomatic and economic efforts must continue until Venezuela recovers its democracy.

Venezuela: Maduro arms militia, bans civilian gun ownership

April 22, 2017

Venezuela: Maduro arms militia, bans civilian gun ownership, Rebel Media, April 21, 2017

(The demonstrations remind me of those in Egypt preceeding the ouster of Morsi. — DM)


Venezuela seizes General Motors plant as property of the state

April 20, 2017

Venezuela seizes General Motors plant as property of the state, Hot Air, Jazz Shaw, April 20, 2017

This news broke overnight and it undoubtedly comes as a shock to anyone who hasn’t been paying to socialism in general and the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in particular. The government of Venezuela came in and seized control of the General Motors plant in the city of Valencia, taking over the property, assets and accounts. The automotive giant responded by saying that they were immediately halting operations. (CNN)

General Motors says it will immediately halt operations in Venezuela after its plant in the country was unexpectedly seized by authorities.

GM (GM) described the takeover as an “illegal judicial seizure of its assets.”

The automaker said the seizure showed a “total disregard” of its legal rights. It said that authorities had removed assets including cars from company facilities.

“[GM] strongly rejects the arbitrary measures taken by the authorities and will vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights,” it said in a statement.

GM’s Venezuelan operation was already pretty much at the point of stagnation. Productivity was approaching zero because their currency had collapsed and they couldn’t order parts to keep the lines running. Also, the domestic market for cars wasn’t exactly booming because their potential customers have money which is basically worthless and they’re mostly too busy looking for scraps of food to worry about a new set of wheels.

If nothing else, this incident will provide an enlightening, educational moment for the rest of the world. It’s a given that this is bad news for General Motors, for the workers there… let’s just say it. This is bad news for everyone except Maduro and his cronies. But it also serves to further pull away the mask, allowing the rest of the world to see what’s actually going on. So gather around, kids, because we’re not only seeing how socialism ends (and it always ends this way) but also how the socialist machinery operates through the various phases of its life cycle.

Originally, the government tolerates the presence of foreign manufacturing entities such as General Motors to fill needs they have which can’t be handled domestically. (GM has been there for roughly seven decades.) It’s not that the Venezuelan people are incapable of innovation or creation… there’s simply no motivation for them to strive for success. Anything they create simply becomes the property of the state anyway, so the hard working, innovative person doesn’t realize much more success than the guy who can barely keep his eyes open to show up for his job sweeping the sidewalk. There’s no point to being particularly innovative.

So companies such as GM are allowed to go to work. But once the system inevitably begins to implode, the tyrant in charge begins looking for new resources to grab. In the name of the socialist concept wherein everything “belongs to the people” he seizes the GM plant. They take the cars which are there to hand out to high ranking party officials and divide up the assets while demanding that the workers get back to producing automobiles. This is, of course, impossible because they don’t have the parts to do it and the people who actually know how to run things are fleeing.

These are the fruits of socialism. It’s a humanitarian disaster to be sure, but it’s also a teachable moment. Watch and learn.

Congress Wants New Sanctions on Venezuela for Ties to Iran-Backed Terrorists

February 9, 2017

Congress Wants New Sanctions on Venezuela for Ties to Iran-Backed Terrorists, Washington Free Beacon, February 9, 2017

(Based on what I read daily in the Latin American Herald Tribune and local Panamanian papers, the proposal would likely do substantially more harm than good. Maduro’s supporters would jump on anything useful to damn American imperialism: “Imperialistic America is interfering in Latin American affairs again!

Panama is still mad at Theodore Roosevelt for creating Panama out of part of Colombia — even though an annual holiday rejoicing over Panamanian independence from Colombia is widely celebrated — and for our “imperialism” in building the Panama Canal– an economic resource we turned over to Panama years ago and which provides mucho dinero for Panama.

Clearly, Maduro is an uneducated, corrupt jerk and has worsened the mess left by el Thugo Chavez. Food? Medicine? Toilet paper? Human rights? Human dignity? freeing imprisoned opposition leaders? Democracy? No way, Jose.  There is little or nothing we can do to improve the lives or to change the regime under which Venezuelans now exist. –DM)

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, speaks during a press conference with international and national press at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Maduro speaks about the economic war his government have faced and measures to stabilize economy. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, speaks during a press conference with international and national press at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

A bipartisan team of lawmakers is calling on President Donald Trump to immediately sanction Venezuela for its ongoing human rights violations and ties to terrorist organizations that reach the highest levels of government, according to a new congressional communication sent to the White House.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) petitioned the White House this week to take action against Venezuela and sanction leading government officials, including the country’s second-in-command, Tareck El Aissami, who is believed to have ties to radical terror organizations.

Venezuela has been devolving into further chaos in recent months as the oppressive socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro continues its crackdown on dissident voices and other reformists.

Maduro caused an outrage in the United States earlier this year when he appointed former regional governor El Aissami to a high-level post that puts him next in line to assume control from Maduro. Aissami has long been accused of having ties to drug kingpins and radical terrorist organizations.

Rogue nations such as Iran have made overtures to anti-Western nations such as Venezuela in an effort to boost the number of rogue nations thriving in America’s backyard. Numerous experts have claimed Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy group, and other terrorist forces have been spotted moving across Latin America.

The call for sanctions by these lawmakers comes as the Trump administration considers ratcheting up international pressure on a range of bad actors, including Iran, North Korea, and others. Many GOP leaders in Congress have been urging the White House to be more aggressive when it comes to dealing with rogue nations across the globe.

“We are writing to request that your administration take immediate action to sanction regime officials responsible for the ongoing dire humanitarian situation, oppressive human rights conditions, and unconscionable corruption taking place in Venezuela,” write Menendez and Ros-Lehtinen, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

“Moreover, Maduro’s recent appointment of Tareck El Aissami puts him next in line to possibly become the next leader of Venezuela, which is extremely troubling given his alleged ties to drug trafficking and terrorist organizations,” the lawmakers write.

“It is extremely concerning that the Maduro regime continues to undertake increasingly authoritative measures against innocent people in Venezuela,” according to the letter, which accuses the Venezuelan leader of committing mass human rights atrocities in an effort to retain power.

“The opposition has been subjected to intense persecution, being vilified on state media by Maduro regime officials, routinely accused of false crimes, and arbitrarily imprisoned,” the lawmakers write, adding that there are more than 100 political prisoners, including U.S. citizens, being held captive in the country.

“We believe that all of them must be freed,” the lawmakers write. “Maduro has also relied on corrupted branches of his regime, such as the Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council, to invalidate actions undertaken by the National Assembly, including an amnesty bill for the country’s political prisoners and a motion for a constitutionally enshrined recall referendum on the presidency.”

The United States must take aggressive action against Venezuela in order to further isolate Maduro’s government and spark regime change, according to Menendez and Ros-Lehtinen.

U.S. business interests also are at stake, according to the lawmakers, who make the case that corruption in Venezuela is harming American interests. Many companies, they say, have been forced to pay millions in bribes to Venezuelan officials in order to complete business transactions in the country.

“We are concerned that over payments of food contracts could likewise represent a potential liability for U.S. companies,” according to the letter. “Thus, we believe that the Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC] should issue clarifying regulations to ensure that U.S. companies do not inadvertently engage in business directly with any corrupt regime entity in Venezuela that would violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977.”

The appointment of El Aissami is particularly concerning to Menendez, Ros-Lehtinen, and others in Congress.

El Aissami has been suspected of issuing passports to members of the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups during his tenure overseeing the country’s immigration bureau.

El Aissami also has been alleged to have played a role in the recruitment of radicalized individuals to Hezbollah.

“The nexus between corruption, drug trafficking, and the influence of extremist terrorist organizations in Venezuela is well documented, many of these nefarious and illicit activities are associated with El Aissami,” the lawmakers write.

Socialist Dictator of Starving Country Vows to Repress Opposition Even Harder

August 21, 2016

Socialist Dictator of Starving Country Vows to Repress Opposition Even Harder, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, August 21, 2016

(I have fond memories of Venezuela from the late 1990’s, when my wife and I visited on our sailboat. That was about when Chavez came to power.  He moved slowly, at first, to foul up everything. Crime was not then a big problem, even in Caracas. Food and medicine were plentiful and it was rare to see someone who seemed unhappy. The then new subway system was excellent, as was bus transportation. Distant from Caracas, the city of Merida had an excellent university; we attended a concert there (it cost about 25 cents each) to listen to a conductor from Julliard conduct a German orchestra. What’s going in Venezuela now makes me very sad. If you would like to learn what’s happening there now, the best site, Venezuela News and Views, is run by a French chap named Daniel who still lives there. The situation keeps getting worse and worse. — DM)


“If the opposition crosses the line, they will find out that Erdogan is a nursing infant next to me and I don’t give a damn about what the OAS says,” Maduro said during a live televised speech.


Venezuela, a country with oil wealth and a Socialist dictator, has food riots. The left lost the last election. But it just rigged the court system and is now operating as a brutal dictatorship with big plans.

In a replay of one of the ugliest chapters in the two-decade rule of the socialist party in Venezuela, a top government official said Thursday that a list of those who signed a petition seeking to recall President Nicolas Maduro will be handed over to government ministries and state-run companies.

“In a revolution, revolutionaries must be in charge of state institutions, not political opponents,” Diosdado Cabello, a top official in the ruling Socialist Party and a lawmaker, said at a rally. “This is not a violation of the right to work.”

Funny how “revolutionaries” became the repressive government busy putting down a revolution.

Cabello has made similar threats earlier this year, but Thursday’s comments brought back memories of the so-called Tascon List which was used by the government under then President Hugo Chavez to fire state workers and bar others from everything from jobs to loans for having signed a petition for a recall referendum in 2004 that Chavez eventually survived. The list was compiled by then lawmaker Luis Tascon and electronic versions of the list circulated throughout Venezuela even being sold by sidewalk vendors. Some Venezuelans even attempted to pay officials to be removed from the list.

A former army captain, Cabello aided Chavez launch a failed coup in 1992 that would eventually help propel the late socialist leader to the presidency.

And Maduro is promising purges and more purges.

Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro warned the opposition asking for his recall that he is “prepared” to outperform Turkey’s Recep Erdogan when it comes to violent repression.

“If the opposition crosses the line, they will find out that Erdogan is a nursing infant next to me and I don’t give a damn about what the OAS says,” Maduro said during a live televised speech.

Also on Thursday, two journalists were detained and released after five hours for taking pictures of what authorities are now calling “the Presidential Corridor”: A portion of Caracas’ Sucre avenue that leads to the Miraflores Presidential Palace.

The opposition has called for a nationwide march on September 1st, asking that the recall against Maduro moves forward more rapidly, setting the stage for an almost certain confrontation between the anti-Maduro forces and the “colectivos”, a paramilitary faction of chavismo that uses handguns and motorcycles to enforce chavista rule in Venezuela.

Maduro riffed on the Erdogan theme for several minutes: “Let’s hope the right wing does not make that mistake, Erdogan is just wearing diapers, where I am already prepared,” he said.

Maduro might want to learn from Mussolini instead.