Straight out of the Fidel playbook, we get this stomach turning tidbit: in the wake of Condi Rice’s calls for an international anti-Chavez front, National Assembly chairman Nicolas Maduro accuses Caracas’s bus drivers of playing along with a US conspiracy to destabilize the government by threatening to strike on the flimsy pretext that too many of them are getting shot by street criminals. At one point, Maduro actually suggested the CIA has a campaign to kill Caracas bus drivers to goad the rest into striking. It’s not so much that you couldn’t make this stuff up, it’s that you wish you had to…
This should clear up a few things:
Every time a US government official speaks negatively about Venezuela, s/he gives an opening for chavismo to turn that statement into repression.
It’s not just big-wig oligarch politicians and journalists who need to worry about the equation of dissent with treason. The government is just as happy this paranoid logic it to bus drivers.
No accusation of gringo-evil doing seems to far-fetched or silly for chavistas to put forward with a straight face.
If the US wants to put diplomatic pressure on Chavez, it should do it quietly, out of mike range. Doing it publicly only invites more repression.
Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.