Maduro, Mysteriously Absent at Venezuelan Carnival, Cracks Down on Opposition
Nicolás Maduro skipped his own party. His "Conference for Peace" was a laughable flop, and the Venezuelan people were skeptical about his call for a national carnival on a day in which the opposition planned massive protests nationwide. The President skipped said carnival due to a loss of voice because, according to the Party, "he works so hard."
Jorge Arreaza, Executive Vice President of the nation, stood before a crowd of hundreds of Chavistas yesterday at the celebration of the Caracazo, a violent uprising by communist elements in the country in the 1980s meant to disrupt the peace of the nation. The Chavistas celebrate this as an act of revolutionary violence, which they obviously support.
Arreaza had to excuse Maduro's absence to the crowd. "Our patriot laborer President, Nicolás Maduro, has worked and worked so hard that today he has no voice," he told the crowd, "no throat with which to join us today." He added a lie about the Venezuelan people supporting Maduro to rile up the crowd, clearly dismayed by the absence of the main attraction. "Here is his people, here is the people of Chávez, here is Revolutionary Caracas." His declarations at the protest below:
Argentine news source Infobae, which has been on top of every development of the recent Venezuelan uprisings, notes that Maduro appeared to have the beginnings of a sore throat while presiding over the "Conference For Peace" event he organized the day before.
The timing of his disappearance is nonetheless suspicious. Maduro has been strongly criticized not only by the opposition but leaders within the Chavista ranks, including Táchira Governor José Gregorio Vielma Mora, who called for the freedom of opposition party Popular Will leader Leopoldo López. Táchira, an Andean province on the border with Colombia, is currently under martial law and home to some of the most egregious human rights abuses of the Maduro regime. It is also the most virulently anti-Maduro state.
Táchira is not the only state rebelling, however. Maduro is widely loathed, so much so that anything mocking the president becomes an instant viral hit. The most popular video on social media in the country is a "rap" parody of the most recent Maduro gaffe, in which he misread the hashtag #SOSVenezuela as "sos Venezuela," meaning in Spanish "you are Venezuela," and incorrectly believed it to be a pro-government hashtag. Another viral hit is the video by "Misses4Peace," a group of more than a hundred Venezuelan beauty queens united against Maduro.
In response to the disapproval, Maduro has continued to repress students. Videos of Cuban armed guards beating student protesters with helmets and sticks appear on YouTube every hour, and Maduro has called for the arrests of more opposition leaders. Today he issued a warrant for Carlos Vecchio, the current leader of the Popular Will Party now that López has been arrested. Vecchio is wanted for similar "crimes" to those of Maduro: "arson," "disturbing the peace," and "conspiracy." Infobae has published the official arrest warrant.
Vecchio has called for protests in response to the warrant, and issued an official reply on his Twitter account:
"The order of capture is political. There is no proof against me. Judicial harassment is evident and demonstrates totalitarian tone of the government." Vecchio has not given any indication that he will, like López, surrender to authorities.