Last February the agents of the Venezuelan security service arrested the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, who is now detained in a military jail on charges of attempting a coup to overthrow President Maduro. It is not the first time that a member of the opposition is arrested, but what happened a few months ago represents an escalation in the regime’s repression, because Ledezma is an elected mayor.
The President has ordered the repression of all his political opponents. Many have been barred from the parliament or even exiled. Ordinary citizens who oppose the left-wing regime are barred from jobs in the public sector and from government benefits. Demonstrations, so far, have ended with the death of many protesters, including a number of students.
Emili Blasco, author of the best-seller Bumeràn Chavez published on April, 16th says the Venezuelan government has become indistinguishable from a criminal organization. Most of the book’s material was provided by Leasmy Salazar, a bodyguard to the former President Hugo Chavez, who has fled to the United States and joined the Witness Protection Program.
The book opens with a scene describing an alleged 2007 meeting between Chavez and the high command of the Colombian Marxist guerrilla group (FARC) in rural Venezuela. According to Salazar, Chavez personally devised a plan in which the FARC would give the Venezuelan government drugs in exchange for military weaponry and cash. The objective was to weaken the government of Colombia’s ex-President Álvaro Uribe.
The book also accuses Chavez’s political supporters, the chavistas, of illegally monitoring the vote count. According to Salazar, this allowed them to alter the results of the 2013 presidential election to ensure Maduro’s victory. At the time he was still Chavez’s Foreign Minister, Maduro negotiated with the Lebanese Islamist militant group and political party Hezbollah to allow 300 of their operatives to fundraise Venezuela. This meeting was witnessed by the former Finance Minister who has since also fled to the United States.
But to what extent are these allegations true? It has been known for years that Venezuela is a major traffic point for drug trade and it is possible that even the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly and active member of the country’s armed forces Diosdado Cabello is involved in the traffic.Recent events let us believe that these allegations are actually valid. The escalation of the repression of political opponents along with the increasing restrictions on the press are good examples. The former Finance Minister and Salazar have been declared “corrupt traitors” by the government spokesmen and the remaining independent news outlets have been sued to prevent the spread of the allegations of the book. Whether or not Blasco tells all the truth, the rot in Venezuela’s public institutions is undeniable and the international community will have to face the debacle sooner or later.