The onetime fans of the Hugo Chávez regime in Venezuela–the ones who thought that the regime was filled with wonderful people and ideas and who thought it was just marvelous that Chávez went to the United Nations to call George W. Bush “the devil”–have been rather quiet (as noted many times on this blog), now that it is clear that the regime is responsible for an economic catastrophe and the decline of political freedoms. One would think that they might say something about how they now regret having supported Chávez and his gang, but thus far, most of the past supporters of the Chávez regime haven’t had the integrity to own up to their bad judgment and to apologize for it.
I suppose these folks get more and more uncomfortable with each and every new story that comes out of Venezuela and shows the current chavista regime to be intellectually and morally bankrupt. If so, this story ought to make current chavistas–and former ones who never expressed regret for the error of their ways–very uncomfortable indeed:
Police in camouflaged uniforms smashed into the office of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma on Thursday and carried the opposition leader away in a move heightening political tensions in the socialist-run South American country.
President Nicolas Maduro announced that Ledezma, one of his most vocal critics, would be punished for his efforts to sow unrest.
[. . .]
“He’ll be held accountable for all his crimes,” Maduro said in comments that TV and radio stations across the country were required to carry.
Last week, Maduro named Ledezma among government critics and Western powers he accused of plotting a coup to bring down his socialist government, one of more than a dozen such denunciations Maduro has made since taking power in 2013. Ledezma mocked the accusation in multiple interviews, saying the real destabilizing force in Venezuela was the government’s corruption.
Tensions have been running high in Venezuela this week, with the one-year anniversary of the start of weeks of anti-government street protests that choked the country with tear gas and smoke from flaming barricades and resulted in more than 40 deaths. National police arrested several other mayors and former mayors during last year’s unrest, including Leopoldo Lopez, who is considered by human rights groups as Latin America’s most high-profile political prisoner.
Allies of the 59-year-old mayor called for more protests Friday to demand his immediate release, a call echoed by Human Rights Watch.
The U.S. State Department called Venezuela’s accusations of coup-plotting “baseless and false” and intended to direct attention away from mounting economic problems such as widespread shortages and galloping inflation that reached 68 percent last year.
“The Venezuelan government needs to deal with the grave situation it faces,” the State Department said in a statement.
But of course, the Venezuelan government is not interested in “deal[ing] with the grave situation that it faces.” Rather, it is interested in finding and persecuting scapegoats in order to distract from the incompetence of the government and the monstrousness of its actions. And it will likely continue to be aided and abetted by the silence of those who once lauded the chavista regime, and who now remain silent instead of speaking out against the regime, and expressing some semblance of remorse for their past awful judgments.