Chavismo’s Pretorian Guard

For Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

The National Militia, rejected by the people in the constitutional referendum held on December, 2007, celebrated this Monday the seventh anniversary of its unconstitutional formation. After seeing the parades put on by North Korea’s Kim Jong-un before his failed missile launch, the sight of this motley crew of civilians disguised as soldiers was embarrassing. The contrast between aerial and ground pictures was startling: orderly lines from the air, and anarchic columns on the ground, saluting the cameras circulating through them, recording old, poorly fed people and even pregnant women.

Ideological loyalty

With some difficulty, Defense minister Vladimir Padrino López read a repeated a speech about the reasons for his loyalty, defining the Armed Forces as “radically anti-imperialist, zamorista, anti-oligarchic, chavista and unquestioningly nationalist,” as a monolithic unit at Nicolás’ disposal, not only because he’s an elected president “but also because that was Commander Chávez’s mandate when he told us to remain united (…) because he’s a truly chavista president,” ratifying that the constitutional mandate is irrelevant in the face of official ideology.

He did, however, reject the complaints regarding abuses and violations during recent protests, restating that the actions aimed at keeping public order can never be labeled as repression, and promising to keep fulfilling the tasks assigned to preserve that order, adding that the protests are part of a plan carried out by the National Assembly to “maliciously and deliberately betray the nation’s interests.” How appropriate.

A dictator without crowds

If yesterday’s event was meant to intimidate the opposition, the scriptwriter made several mistakes. The first one was letting Nicolás improvise a speech. He used the word “treason” at least 21 times, much more than Chávez quotes or the usual terms “revolution” and “patria.” The man who doesn’t fear the opposition spent a lot of time in a detailed retelling of his version of betrayals in history, only to end up screaming for national insurrection if “we wake up with a coup d’État one of these days.”

He defined the militia as an act of faith and cautioned that he already approved the resources so that each militia carries a rifle. According to him, dissidents lack political, institutional or constitutional reasons to oppose his dictatorship and chavismo can’t be labeled as terrorist after threatening dissidents with death, but dissidents are indeed terrorists merely for expressing their views. He begged the people to stand with him on April 19th in “the largest red tide.” It was a cadena to show that military authorities reject their institutional responsibilities and are just another component of the PSUV’s State. By the way, Nicolás, 180 Cubans that were part of your medical programs, deserted.

More threats

On Monday, Diosdado Cabello said that the Venezuelan opposition won’t get into downtown Caracas and labeled opposition leaders as terrorists, explaining that chavismo will march on April 19th “to stop violence and terrorism,” claiming that the people will walk to Caracas from every corner of the country, that they’ll have 60,000 motorizados, that they’ll have the National Militia’s support – they’ll stay in Caracas for “as long as necessary”- and remarking that perhaps chavismo will meet the opposition halfway: “Don’t provoke us,” he said.

Cabello also spoke of the creation and incorporation of bodies of PSUV fighters to the National Militia and, like a true mob boss, he warned opposition leaders that chavismo knows “where they live who accompanies them.” According to Diosdado, all of the State’s violence and the abuses of power are merely “false positives” and any opposition protest amounts to terrorism. The fact that two armed men showed up at lawmaker Manuel Olivares’ house yesterday night is not a coincidence.

Removal

Opposition lawmakers went to the Ombudsman’s Office to file a document demanding the removal of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s Constitutional Chamber justices, highlighting their crimes and reminding the Ombudsman that, as head of the Republican Moral Council, he failed the proceedings by giving his opinion regarding the justices’ serious misconduct. Tarek William Saab should read the interview where Isaías Rodríguez —Venezuela’s ambassador to Italy— says the government should hold elections, listen to dissidents and get over the arrogance of believing themselves to be Chávez’s true heirs, pointing out that the TSJ’s rulings were correct but they had “excessive institutional loyalty at all cost,” noticeable scientific rigor and interpretation errors.

Regional concern

The governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay regretted and condemned the deaths of six Venezuelans in recent protests, once again rejecting violence, demanding the government to respect and guarantee the right to peaceful protest, and to prevent any violent action against protesters, urging them to define dates for the electoral timetable as soon as possible, to allow a solution for our severe crisis.

Tortured and imprisoned

The requests filed before the Prosecutor’s Office were irrelevant, Judge 10 of Control, Josepline Flores, denied them all and sent brothers José and Alejandro Sánchez to prison for the crimes of public instigation and criminal association. They’re held in CICPC headquarters until they’re transferred to Tocorón, the prison in Aragua state were gang lord Wilmito was murdered, the same prison that minister Iris Varela admitted not to control.

This is vile and cruel, it’s practically a death sentence and chavismo knows it. That’s their actual message, that’s why they subjected them to public scorn by broadcasting the video of their illegal interrogation, that’s why they ignored all complaints of torture.

See you in the street on April 19th.

Isn’t it time for treason?

Well, it depends. 180 Cubans who were part of the medical social programs in Venezuela are waiting in Bogotá, where they arrived after deserting, in the hopes that the United States will issue them visas even though the “Cuban Medical Profession Parole” – a special visa program – is already suspended, which leaves them in a kind of legal limbo: “It’s a terrible situation, because we’re political pariahs in Cuba for deserting a Cuban medical (and) political mission,” said Alonso, spokesman for the deserters. He confessed they bribed the National Guard and also Colombian policemen, that they were living in horrible conditions in Venezuela, with miserable salaries. All of them are waiting for a reply from either the United States or Colombia.

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