Political rape

No sexism here.
No sexism here.

Last night, Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal said that, indeed, Maria Corina Machado’s expulsion from the National Assembly could stand. On its own, this shouldn’t seem so shocking – chavismo has created a habit of kicking people out of Parliament, out of city hall, and out of politics altogether. But Maria Corina is no Richard Mardo, and she is no Maria Mercedes Aranguren – no offense to either one.

In twisting the law to slam one of the opposition’s most visible political leaders, the government is signalling that repression is only going to escalate. The move against Machado will only heighten tensions, and it reeks of petty vindictiveness. It is also incredibly sexist.

Machado was expelled as payback for the trip she took to the OAS a few days ago. As you may recall, she traveled to Washington to speak to the OAS about Venezuela after Panama invited her. Machado was expelled for supposedly accepting a job as Panamanian “ambassador” to the OAS – never mind that the OAS Secretary General has clearly stated that she appeared as a Venezuelan legislator. Venezuela’s maneuvering meant that Machado did not actually get to speak to the General Assembly and make her case, but this meant nothing to Venezuela’s institutions.

Machado is hugely popular among the opposition’s hard core base. The people who are protesting the loudest are not likely to take this lying down. But as the government moves against the opposition’s most visible female political leader, one has to wonder – if Machado had been a man, would they have done this? They have already beaten her up. They have tried to beat her up again. They have insulted, demeaned and sexualized her. Through it all, she has stood strong.

Violent, vitriolic hatred against visible women leaders is nothing new. It happens in the US, it happens in the Ukraine, it has happened in the UK, and it has happened in India. A female leader has to be “motherly,” “bland,” or even a tad “masculine” in order to be accepted by certain segments of society. But when a woman is fierce, determined, and in-your-face such as Machado is – well, that simply won’t stand – she instantly becomes a threat to men with small egos, and she must be destroyed.

However much we evolve, it seems as though powerful women simply cannot be tolerated in our society. As such, they have to be taught a lesson, they have to know what “their place” should be – second to a man. What happened to Machado was not necessary. It serves no political purpose – Machado’s ouster does not give the government more power in the National Assembly -other than to send a message – it was done because they can. Actual rape is used as a weapon of war, and in a similar fashion, what happened to Machado is a message to forceful female leaders out there who simply won’t shut up and sit down. It’s not really about Machado, but about women in general in our society.

The move against Machado should not stand. It’s a shame that it probably will.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. Grave signalling indeed.

    My thoughts go out to MCM and the people of Venezuela in their plight to gain their sovereignity back in a country with no rule of law! And under foreign military occupation. All with the only arms of reason, and love and hope!
    Dios los bendiga.

    • I totally agree.Just this morning I was watching a video of the students in Chacao , and could not contain the tears in my eyes and the pain my heart: a combination of sorrow, profound admiration,compassion and fear for them…the whole gamut.Some people are giving it their ALL, under extremely precarious circumstances.

  2. I don’t think the decision itself (while being immensely corrupt and illegal) is sexist. If any other deputy had posed the same threat as she poses, they would have likely done the same. And I agree: she is not going to return as a deputy any time soon, in fact, they are just waiting for the perfect moment to “justify” an arrest. But well, María Corina represents a district that is far more opposition-leaning than San Diego and San Cristóbal, never mind the people around the country who feel represented with her; so I don’t think people are going to remain silent.

    • Agree, it wasn’t really sexist, it was “We will simply crush you if you become too visible, whatever your sex may be.” As Juan said, it was completely unnecessary for the Govt. to do this, and it will rally the Oppo, especially the many valiant females protesting/fighting, even more.

  3. Juan,
    In the name of Richard Mardo and Maria Mercedes Aranguren, non taken…But, which is the fundamental difference among these three cases? All were popular elected to Venezuela’s General Assembly. All seemed to have been kicked out “illegally”. Why to make an special “fuzz”? because is MCM? Your article is not ‘fair” in that aspect and also I don’t see the correlation between been hardcore opposition and been an XX. If we want a new Venezuela we need to ‘STOP” been prejudice and “elitist”. The new Venezuela needs and wants to stop the social resentment of the disparity in condition, classes and gender. It’s all about MERIT, nothing else. By the way, MCM has showed enormous amount of MERIT.

  4. I do feel that MCM being a strong, in your face, highly effective speaker and leader and at the same time very feminine , riles and offends the machista sensibilities of Chavez stalawarts . Look at the women they like as leaders , women who are shrill and almost manly in their roughness , machorras such as Lina Ron and Fosforito .or dowdy card board stiff mealy mouthed expresionless women like those that people the CNE or the TSJ .

  5. BUt wouldn’t this have happened regardless of her gender? There are a few high-profile leaders in the opposition – HCR, LL and MCM…. LL is already in custody, so it’s not surprising the government would then move against her. The bigger issue is that the govt is escalating the situation by targeting oppo leaders in the first place. I’m not in Caracas, so I’m curious whether this is a fair reading from abroad….

  6. I think you should also have mentioned, Juan, how Diosdado Cabello should also be forced out of office since it is unconstitutional for an active military person to hold office (except MinDefense).

    But hey, we all know that these HDP’s only enforce the law when they want to…………..

    • There is no rule of law in Venezuela.

      It has been like this for a while but people avoid accepting it. The state has been hollowed of institutional strength and has allowed the insurgence of many different power centres., such as:

      Other foreign powers interests handlers
      Military factions or clans or tribus or carteles, or however you want to call it.
      Federaciones de colectivos
      Finantial clans (bolichicos, nueva banca, nueva PDVSA)
      Managers of side/ black budgets (as large as the official national treassury budgets, or larger)

      Tormenta perfecta para que cualquier evento empuje el equilibrio inestable por la cuesta y se prenda el peo!!!!

      Que preocupante!


  7. Juan, I am not sure the sexism angle was necessary or applicable here. She is being neutralized because she is effective. Period.

    • also, because she committed a cardinal sin. She revealed the nasty seams of the regime, seams that tailors are paid to sew over so as to hide them from foreign audiences.

  8. It’s to be expected from a regime composed from the worst of the worst that Venezuela has to offer, a bunch of chauvinistic assholes who threat to punch and kick you that behave like school bullies.
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Chavism hasn’t grown up mentally, they still act like stupid spoiled children when their parents aren’t watching them, lashing out like rabid animals while they think of the rest of Venezuelans as less than garbage (In fact, many of them think that we are some sort of “infection” or disease that must be destroyed)

  9. The regime makes a big deal about its (doubtful) status as having been elected by the people. When it does this, it is demonstrating that elections mean nothing, and that it does not recognize the legitimacy of elected leaders. What goes around comes around.

  10. There is definitely a point about sexism to be made but equating what’s happened to rape is offensive. I know that violated/violado tends to confuse things but you don’t need to resort to that language to make your point.

  11. MCM not only gets that reaction from Chavismo, there is a huge backlash among certain sectors of the opposition (Specially among the left). Just look at twitter. There is something about a smart, assertive, attractive woman that rubs many people the wrong way

  12. The jezebel, MCM, belongs at home wiping up a baby’s diapers, not discussing politics with civilized men. She needs to be squashed like a cockroach till she learns that lesson.

  13. Sorry Juan, I think that the persecution of Machado would have been the same had she had been a man.
    In that respect, the chavismo has an equal opportunity policy. What is remarkable is that this courageous woman have not been sent to jail before. They tried when she was at Sumate, they tried hard and couldn’t,
    but MCM has been a target since day 1.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here