Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has begun to lose the support of his own socialist party. After expelling a rebel official for criticizing the government, Maduro has threatened to purge his own party of dissidents in an attempt to silence the growing disagreement among socialists.
Spanish newspaper ABC reports that Maduro made a series of public statements this weekend against what he is calling the “hungover left,” run by elites who want to control him. “How inconsiderate these hungover leftists, attacking us when the enemy seeks to cut our heads off!” he said in a television appearance this week, insisting that “history will judge them and they will dry out, just as those who have attacked the nation have.”
Maduro did not name any individuals within the Venezuelan Socialist Party, but he has come under a barrage of criticism from socialist party members. Urban Planning Minister Jorge Giordiani was removed from his position and expelled from the Socialist Party this month after remarking that Maduro was deliberately hurting the country. “It is painful and alarming to see a president that does not project leadership, and seems to want to affirm that in the incoherent repetition of the plans formed by Commander Chávez,” Giordani remarked before being expelled. His comments received support from another Chavista stripped of his authority: former Education Minister Héctor Navarro.
ABC notes that another former Chavista, former Finance Minister Rafael Isea, described the expulsion of the two defectors from the party as a “grave error,” adding, “One should not confuse criticism with conspiracy, nor loyalty with submission.”
Maduro, for his part, continued to attack the rebel socialists this week, demanding that socialists “leave behind the air conditioner” and work “with the people on the streets.”
Censorship in Venezuela is at an all-time high, as Maduro’s government seeks to criminalize social media dissent to finalize its grip over public speech in the country. Venezuela’s National Syndicate for Professional Journalists denounced the government this week for the 174 attacks on journalists in the country since the year started and the thousands of arrests of dissidents expressing public opposition to the government. Journalists exposing problems with the socialist system are particularly at risk. “This has been the worst year in a long time, more aggressions than during election years. … Every attack against a media employee is an attack on freedom of expression,” said the secretary general of the organization, Marco Ruiz.