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An iron curtain descends upon Venezuela


Published:   |   Updated: May 5, 2013 at 11:45 AM

As Winston Churchill warned about the Soviet Union in a famous 1946 speech, it is urgent for all Americans to understand today that an iron curtain of tyranny is descending upon Venezuela.

Under the direction of Cuba’s secret police, a Marxist cabal of fascist thugs led by the former bus driver Nicolas Maduro, 50, stole last month’s presidential election in a stealth voting machine coup. They promptly declared themselves to be the absolute rulers of the South American nation of more than 28 million people.

There are no checks and no balances in today’s Venezuela, as both the legislative and judicial branches in the capital, Caracas, are controlled by the self-titled President Maduro.

The Obama Administration is watching this dictatorial process in pusillanimous silence, emblematic of the President’s dangerous lack of interest in what happens in South America. Someone should tell Mr. Obama that Venezuela is providing financial and intelligence assistance to Cuba, Iran, Syria, and other American enemies. And that Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, surpassing even Saudi Arabia.

Maduro, the candidate of the United Socialist Party and chosen political heir of the late strongman Hugo Chavez, supposedly won the April 14 election by a 1.49 percent margin out of 15 million votes cast. That is according to the Maduro-controlled National Electoral Council (CNE, by its Spanish initials).

The CNE has announced that on election day it “audited” by random sampling 54 percent of the electronic voting machines, which were all found to be in “perfect” working condition, and that it is now “auditing”, also by random sampling, the remaining 46 percent. However, the CNE has refused the request from the losing presidential candidate, Miranda State Gov. Henrique Capriles, 40, that a complete recount be conducted of every vote cast due to several thousand documented election irregularities

Capriles claims that his own calculations show that he won and that Maduro “stole” the election.

A challenge to the election results, according to the CNE, can only be sought before Venezuela’s Supreme Court – which is also controlled by Maduro. Capriles did so on Thursday, asking the judges to order a new election.

As was the case in Communist Cuba 50 years ago, Maduro has quickly begun to systematically crush all opposition to his rule.

Shortly after the election, an opposition leader, retired Army General Antonio Rivero, and an American documentary maker from California, Timothy Hallet Tracy, 34, were arrested separately on trumped up charges of inciting political unrest and violence. Capriles himself may be next.

Meanwhile, another Chavista thug, National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello, is refusing to allow opposition deputies from speaking unless they first swear allegiance to Maduro. And on Tuesday nine opposition deputies were physically attacked by Chavista deputies while on the floor of the Assembly.

Churchill put it this way: “Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement.”

President Obama needs to open his eyes to the unfolding tragedy in Venezuela and try to help the partisans of democracy there. Even the CNE admits that 7,361,512 of them voted for Capriles and against Maduro’s socialist agenda.

Angel Castillo, Jr., a former reporter and editor for the New York Times and The Miami Herald, practices employment law in Miami. He can be reached at acastillo@floridavoices.com.

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