With the Venezuelan economy in full-blown meltdown and massive protests escalating across the embattled nation, the socialist regime of “President” Nicolas Maduro has taken to deploying troops, mowing down student protesters, terrorizing critics, and even arresting leaders of the political opposition. Instead of addressing the root cause of the turmoil — socialism, corruption, soaring inflation, and tyranny — authorities in Venezuela are doubling down and shifting the blame, Chavez-style, onto a foreign “conspiracy” and right-wing “fascists.” At least several protesters have been shot dead so far, with dozens wounded.
As The New American has been reporting for years, Venezuela, despite massive oil revenues, has been mired in a downward spiral of chaos and economic devastation for over a decade. Following the election of socialist strongman Hugo Chavez, the once relatively prosperous nation promptly became a basket case. The situation has become dire, with shortages of everything from toilet paper to basic food staples exploding. The oil-rich regime cannot even keep the electricity on regularly in the capital, Caracas, much less throughout the rest of the nation.
In response to boiling anger and misery over out-of-control crime, murder, corruption, inflation, and tyranny, Maduro and his cohorts responded, as autocrats do, with more totalitarianism. From printing even more currency and arresting uncooperative Venezuelans to seizing more wealth and disarming the public with help from the United Nations, the regime keeps piling on the tyranny as it flails around frantically trying to contain the growing uprising. Unsurprisingly, last week, the people of Venezuela not on government payrolls began a series of massive peaceful protests across the nation.
Maduro responded with brute force.
Ordering troops and regime employees out into the streets to counter the demonstrations, Maduro has denounced the protesters as terrorists, murderers, fascists, stooges of capitalists and the U.S. government, saboteurs, and more. Public-sector workers, including employees of the state oil behemoth, were reportedly ordered to dress in red and hold “pro-government” rallies. Police and National Guard forces, meanwhile, were apparently instructed to suppress the escalating protests against Maduro’s regime, a close ally of the barbaric communist autocracy ruling over Cuba and other statist regimes across the region.
Amid clashes, at least five protesters have been killed, and more than 60 wounded, according to news reports. The regime, though, is bizarrely claiming that the opposition is somehow responsible for the deaths and the violence, even alleging that one of the regime's supporters had also been killed. Around the world, human rights groups and foreign powers are now calling for a proper investigation into the killings. The truth, however, is becoming increasingly difficult to pinpoint, analysts say, because the regime has shut down virtually every independent media outlet in Venezuela.
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Photo shows anti-Maduro protester holding a Venezuelan flag confronting power, Feb. 18, 2014: AP Images