In Spain, after the failed Coup d’etat of February 23rd, 1981, the Chamber of Deputies made a conscious decision not to repair the bullet-holes the golpistas had made on the chamber’s ceiling as they burst in shooting into the air.

Those holes stand there, even today, as a silent reminder to any Spanish politician who cares to look up of just how fragile democracy is, how it is always one violent attack away from destruction.

I learned that today, reading José Ramón Morales Arilla’s Facebook TL  Like he says, we need these tokens of the past to be preserved, because we know we’re prone to forgetting, and forgetting can be deadly.

And he’s right. Which is why the blood stains from this morning’s cowardly attack on the National Assembly should be preserved. Right now. Forever.

Future generations of leaders who walk into that place long after this nightmare is over cannot be allowed to forget what the fight for democracy has meant to this generation.

But these stains should do more than just warn future generations of Venezuelans. They also serve as impossible-to-miss warning signs to this generation of hemispheric leaders.

Right now, National Assembly member Americo de Grazia —one of the National Assembly’s most committed, hardest working and most effective members— lies gravely injured by the fascist (is there any other word, really?) mob invited into the National Assembly grounds by the government this morning.

The democratically elected majority in Venezuela’s National Assembly is under actual physical attack, in its own chamber, by violent mobs plainly supported by the government. Just stop to let it sink how serious this is.

The hemisphere as a whole needs to take a moment and weigh what’s at stake here.

The time for MUN-style maneuvers at OAS is over. The alarm bells for civil conflict and atrocity crimes could not be ringing any louder.

How much clearer does this need to be? What does it take to actually focus the minds of the continent?

Let me spell this out for you in the simplest of terms:

It’s not yet too late to prevent a major civil conflict in Venezuela.

(But that statement may not remain true much longer.)

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