Maduro Steps Up His Repression of Democracy

Maduro Steps Up His Repression of Democracy

By Noelani Kirschner / ShareAmerica
March 11, 2020

The Nicolás Maduro regime and its allies continue to find new ways to repress democracy and brutalize the Venezuelan people.

When Interim President Juan Guaidó returned from his diplomatic trip abroad on February 11, pro-Maduro bullies attacked him at the airport near Caracas. One tried to smash his car’s window with a traffic cone.

While Guaidó was unharmed, others weren’t so lucky.

Maduro’s cronies beat journalists while security forces watched and did nothing. Several reporters were seriously injured and many more were robbed of their equipment, according to the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

“[W]hen journalists attempted to file a formal complaint about the attacks at the prosecutor’s office, armed police officers blockaded the building and didn’t let them enter,” the committee said.

Police agents transport surviving prisoners after police holding cells caught fire in Valencia, Carabobo state, Venezuela, March 28, 2018. (Photo: Juan Barreto / AFP)

The regime’s security forces seized Guaidó’s uncle, Juan José Márquez, as he went through customs. The Maduro regime alleges that Márquez carried explosive material on Guaidó’s return flight from Portugal and has suspended the airline, TAP Air Portugal, from sending flights to Caracas. Portuguese Foreign Minister Teresa Ribeiro told the Associated Press the decision was “completely unfounded and unjustified.”

“This is an obvious and vicious effort to attack Guaidó’s closest advisers and his family,” said the U.S. State Department’s Elliott Abrams.

Márquez was last seen in the custody of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence, a pro-Maduro intelligence agency known for torturing citizens.

More than a week later, officers of the Directorate forced entry into Márquez’s home while his wife and children were present. The interim government and Márquez’s lawyer denounced the act.

In a State Department statement, the U.S. condemned the baseless detention and called for the Maduro regime to release Márquez. “We will hold Nicolás Maduro and those who surround him fully responsible for the safety and welfare of Interim President Guaidó’s family and all those who defend democracy in Venezuela,” it said.

According to reports, in 2019, there were 2,219 arbitrary arrests in Venezuela. Since Maduro took power in 2014, there have been roughly 15,000.

In January, according to the Venezuelan National Assembly, the Maduro regime illegally looted an international aid station, leaving the Venezuelan people with fewer medical supplies and less nonperishable food, medicines, and blankets.

“The United States condemns the thousands of killings, attacks, and arbitrary detentions that have taken place in Venezuela,” the State Department statement said. “We stand with the victims’ families in demanding justice and accountability.”