A Year Into Maduro Reign, More Protests and an Oscars Crackdown in Venezuela

For the first time in 39 years, Venezuelans were banned from watching the Academy Awards, thanks to "far-right extremists lobbying Hollywood." That according to President Nicolás Maduro's press secretary, Delcy Rodríguez, who spoke while Maduro issued more arrests against nonviolent student protesters.

Venevision, the major network that has held the rights to broadcasting the Oscars in Venezuela, tweeted yesterday that they had lost such rights, which at first sounded like they had not paid those organizing the event for the right to broadcast it. But they had not lost that right from the Oscars production crew: Maduro personally intervened to make sure Venezuelans could not watch the awards ceremony, in case any intrepid actor dared denounce his oppressive regime (his instinct on that front was correct: Jared Leto expressed support for the anti-socialist movement in his Best Supporting Actor acceptance speech).

The gesture was not lost on Venezuelans thanks to the magic of social media: the #SOSVenezuela hashtag was full of thank yous to the actor (and to Kevin Spacey, for tweeting solidarity as well). The voodoo of social media is one that has escaped Maduro's wrath so far except in cities like far-west San Cristóbal, where Maduro has simply cut off electricity and declared martial law. It is not a surprise that Táchira, the state of which San Cristóbal is the capital, was the first to behead a statue of Hugo Chávez. Even Táchira's Chavista governor has turned on Maduro.

The Nicolás Maduro regime turns one year old today, and meets the strongest opposition in its history.  Not content with simply stowing away opposition party Popular Will president Leopoldo López in jail, Maduro issued a warrant against the party's current acting leader, Carlos Vecchio. Unlike López, Vecchio appears to have no plans to turn himself in.

Vecchio released a video yesterday in which he used his new high profile to read a "manifesto" written by López, rather than send a message himself. In the video, Vecchio reads López's words, in which he says he has "no regrets" in turning himself in to the state police and urges Venezuelans to continue protesting and presents a five-pronged list of concrete demands to the government. The manifesto demands "the liberation of all political prisoners and permission for exiles to return," "justice for those killed by repression and abuse," "the rehabilitation of all public powers destroyed by the unconstitutional decree rule" [Maduro gave himself the power to legislate by decree last November], "the resignation of all those responsible for repressive acts, torture, and killing," "justice for the scam that stole $30 million in Cadivi." You can watch Vecchio deliver the remarks in an undisclosed location below (comments are in Spanish):

 

Maduro, who was mysteriously absent during last weekend's improptu attempt to quell protests by organizing a carnival, is set to appear in public today. Meanwhile, government National Guardsmen continue to oppress nonviolent protesters and wreak havoc on opposition neighborhoods like Altamira, where the streets burned yesterday, according to footage uploaded by protesters to YouTube.


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