Morphing into a Police State, Venezuela Arrests Opposition Legislator

This will be remembered as the week Venezuela shed the last vestiges of its institutional structures and devolved into a straight-up police state.

Yesterday was the first day of the fifth year of Maduro’s term of office.

Yesterday, the rules changed.

They changed constitutionally: from now until January 2019, the presidency will stay in PSUV’s hands, barring the kind of catastrophic regime collapse that looks further and further each day.

And they changed politically, as Tareck El Aissami rushes to stamp his authority on SEBIN — the secret police force that, we turn to forget, is under the control of the executive vice-presidency in the government’s org-chart — by ordering the detention of Gilber Caro, a sitting member of the National Assembly, after planting explosives on him.

The decision thumbs his nose at the concept of parliamentary immunity, declaring open season on the 336 opposition figures (Assembly members and their alternates) who thought they could count on some respite from recession.

Together with the move to give Henrique Capriles his own speeding-ticket-at-the-Indy-500 for Odebrecht-related corruption, and the Supreme Tribunal’s obscene over-reach in telling the National Assembly who it can and can’t elect as speaker, and Maduro’s decision to give his Memoria-y-Cuenta (a.k.a., State of the #TropicalMierda) speech at the Supreme Tribunal instead of the Assembly, this week is becoming an inflection point in the Venezuelan crisis.

The country is shedding the last vestigial remains of its institutional structures and devolving more and more openly into a straight-up police state.

At this rate, Julio Borges’s panicked insistence that the government has decided never again to hold free elections looks as on-point as his plan to counteract it looks beside-the-point.