Thought crimes

Some days it seems as though chavismo is coming apart at the seams. Their unhinged responses to the most feeble of slights is a gift to their critics. This weekend we saw the latest incarnation of this disturbing pattern.

As our readers know well, last week US President Barack Obama signed into law a bill authorizing the US government to impose targeted sanctions on Venezuelan human rights violators. The sanctions amount to visa suspensions, freezing of the assets, and a few other things. The government, of course, is livid.

Last Friday Chúo Torrealba, the leader of the opposition coalition MUD, came out in favor of the sanctions. In speaking to the press, he said that the MUD supports any government in the world that is trying to punish human rights violators. The lack of justice is so overwhelming in Venezuela, we welcome a little bit of it, wherever it may come from. (And if you have any lingering doubts about human rights violations in Venezuela, please read up on the devastating story of Marcelo Crovato, the jailed defense attorney for the student prisoners.)

As if to prove Torrealba’s point, over the weekend chavista legislator Blanca Eekhout announced that Torrealba would be charged with “treason.”

Keep in mind that Torrealba is not a public employee. He is not an elected official. He is simply a citizen, expressing an opinion, one that we concur with. The message from chavismo is clear: it is no longer safe to freely express your thoughts.

I doubt that chavismo will follow through on such a bone-headed threat, and if they do, they will probably sanction Torrealba with a lingering trial, a suspension of travel privileges, and other parts of the usual script. Then again, the point is not to go after Torrealba himself.

The point is to instill fear.