PanAm Post: It’s High Time We Called Nicolás Maduro a Dictator
EspañolFor years we have insisted that in Venezuela there are no remains of democracy to be found. To many members of the Venezuelan opposition, this was an extreme position. According to them, to change the course of Venezuelan history it was necessary to have a dialogue with the current administration. The overwhelming victory in the parliamentary elections held December 2015 seemed to have given the country such an opportunity.
Control of two-thirds of the seats in Parliament granted constitutional powers to the opposition to take drastic measures which could have resulted in an inevitable fall of the Maduro regime. Unfortunately, the opposition chose the long and complicated recall referendum process as its route to a democratic solution.
The events of last week have completely changed things. The opposition was about to collect the necessary 20 percent of signatures needed for an electoral census to revoke President Maduro. Faced with certain recall, the regime decided to suspend the last electoral, democratic, and peaceful mechanism that remained.
The Chavista regime decided to extinguish any possibility of revoking President Nicolas Maduro through any of the civil and democratic means provided by the constitution of 1999.
On Sunday, October 22, the National Assembly held an extraordinary session. The meeting was called to declare the constitutional rule broken and officially brand Maduro’s actions a “coup”. They were interrupted by a horde of armed pro-government thugs, led by the chavista mayor Jorge Rodriguez, who rules over the Central Caracas municipality.
They stormed the Parliament to prevent deputies from legislating. This has been compared to the infamous 1848 attack on the Venezuelan Congress led by President Jose Tadeo Monagas. The event became the spark that ignited the long civil war known in Venezuela as the “Federal War.”
Hugo Chavez took power by leveraging the repudiation of party politics from a majority of Venezuelans amidst a severe recession. From that moment forward, a model was established in Venezuela that consolidated authoritarian rule. The Constitution of 1999, promoted by Chavez,was the preamble to a dictatorial project that dominates Venezuela today.
The bloody events of April 2002, when the army briefly took Chavez out, as officers were horrified by the massacre of unarmed civilians during an anti-government demonstration. Chavez returned to power a few hours later strengthened in a similar fashion, years before, as Turkey’s Erdogan.
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Then the expropriations began — confiscations characterized by opposition leader Maria Corina Machado as “theft” — and attacks against freedom of expression, including the closure of one of the oldest television networks in the Americas, Radio Caracas Television in 2007.
In 2013, the NGO Reporters Without Borders placed Venezuela 117th of 179 for freedom of expression. This year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) said that the Latin American country there is “a restrictive climate that continues to inhibit the free exercise of freedom of expression.”
Violations of human rights in Venezuela under Chavismo seem almost uncountable. In 2014, more than 40 government opponents of Nicolas Maduro were killed by different officials and armed pro-government gangs during demonstrations. There are also hundreds of cases of severe torture and harassment, as well as a considerable number of political prisoners. According to the NGO Awareness Venezuela, by the end of 2015 there were 99, including opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Daniel Ceballos.
The 2015 report of the IACHR cataloged the Venezuelan government as a violator of human rights. Also, the Electoral Power, i.e. the National Electoral Council (CNE), has been branded as an “appendix” of the executive.
In short, the annulment of freedoms in Venezuela is evident. The lack of freedom of speech, economic freedom, political freedom and individual liberty are evidence that in Venezuela liberal democracy has ceased to exist. Following the cancellation of the recall referendum against Maduro, the prestigious Venezuelan Program of Education-Action in Human Rights (PROVEA) issued a statement stating that due to “the illegal suspension of the implementation of the (recall), confirms the separation of powers in the country no longer exists. The Government of Nicolas Maduro is to be classified as a dictatorship. ”
Thus, we at the PanAm Post have decided that, from now on we will call the Venezuelan regime using the appropriate defintion: in Venezuela there is no democracy, but a dangerous dictatorship that lashes out daily against its citizens for trying to exercise their rights.
This journal will no longer give Nicolas Maduro the title of “President”, for he has become the dictator of a country that once stood as a beacon of freedom in South America.