Harassment of Venezuelan Lawmakers Worsens
By Diálogo June 07, 2019On the day that the façade of her modest home appeared covered in graffiti with the words "we are coming for you" signed by "los colectivos" (armed gangs that defend the regime of Nicolás Maduro), Milagros Eulate, a representative of the state of Vargas, on Venezuela’s central coast, told Diálogo: "This is going to get worse."
"This" is the harassment Maduro supports — using all the tools at his disposal — against opposition representatives who, like Eulate, control the Venezuelan National Assembly with a two-third supermajority.
Unfortunately, Eulate was right: On May 14, the Venezuelan National Guard blocked access to representatives, administrative staff, and even the press to the building in Caracas that houses the National Assembly, the only established political body that the international community and the local opposition recognize. The official excuse was a bomb threat that only pro-Maduro authorities, and not any opposition member, allegedly received. This was not the first time such “bomb threats” had been reported.
On May 13, the Organization of American States condemned the attacks against the representatives. However, these attacks haven’t stopped. As evidenced on May 14, the attacks have escalated in intensity and frequency.
Graffiti on the walls of their homes isn’t the worst representatives can expect from the regime: three are imprisoned and have had their parliamentary immunity violated, which is the case for Édgar Zambrano, Juan Requesens, and Gilber Caro; some have resorted to exile, like Julio Borges or Carlos Vecchio; and others have sought refuge at embassies when they couldn’t leave Caracas. In all, 25 percent of lawmakers have been detained, exiled, or harassed, aside from having their parliamentary immunity revoked by a regime that each day makes another bold move to destroy the National Assembly.
Nearly all the representatives have found graffiti on their doors and have been threatened via social media — and even on state television — before being arrested or exiled.
On May 13, the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service attempted to arrest Alfredo Ramos, another opposition representative and former trade unionist in the state of Lara, in the western region. Neighbors stopped it from happening, but not all representatives are as lucky as Ramos.
Outside her apartment in Vargas, Eulate doesn't seem much of a threat to a violent regime. Her husband doesn’t talk, but he seems concerned: all visitors must meet with him first. Precautions are basic, but effective. With phone in hand, Eulate's husband waits for journalists' vehicles on a nearby street before taking them to see her.
"Undoubtedly, this is a plan devised at the national level by an already defeated government of narcotraffickers and criminals," Eulate said, as she stands by her front door. "This is a psycho-terror plan, Nazi-style. I don't feel scared at all; what scares me is hunger and lack of medicine. We will continue protesting in the streets," she says, occasionally looking at the graffiti.
Attackers "had their faces covered and came in a black car at about 3 a.m. There were four of them. This was not the first time," Eulate said about the last attack. She said she reported it to the relevant authorities, and even to police agencies that are still loyal to Maduro.
But as evidenced, it wasn't the last attack against the opposition either. The regime "is like a wounded animal. This government is hurt and trying to survive at any cost," Eulate said.