Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro told viewers on national television he wished he could sentence opposition members to 30-year prison sentences for their tweets.
Maduro referred particularly to tweets against his regime’s imposition of a fabricated lawmaking body on the Venezuelan people, designed to usurp the power of the democratically-elected National Assembly and draft a new constitution.
“They went crazy on Twitter. Even with just the tweets that they published is good enough to stick all of them in prison for 30 years,” Maduro said in a speech in front of his delegates. “I am not a dictator, but sometimes I feel like becoming one against those sons of guns”:
LO ÚLTIMO | Maduro pide 30 años para opositores por tuitear contra el proceso de la ANC y pide acabar con la inmunidad parlamentaria. pic.twitter.com/pElUpa6yC4
— Alberto Rodríguez (@AlbertoRT51) August 3, 2017
In a speech in front of his new delegates, Maduro also pledged to “eliminate the parliamentary immunities that generate impunity,” as he seeks to dissolve the power of elected lawmakers and replace them with socialist delegates hand-picked by the regime.
Maduro’s comments follow last Sunday’s “sham” election in Venezuela, designed to consolidate his authority through the creation of a parallel legislature, the “national constituents’ assembly.” The day was marred by violence, as over a dozen people were killed including a candidate and two teenagers, while police arrested over 100 people.
Following that election, Venezuela’s Secret Police (Sebin) stormed the homes of opposition leader Leopoldo López and rightful mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma, taking the two men away over alleged violations of their house arrest provisions.
Ledezma has been detained for years without being convicted or tried for a crime, though he had been transferred to house arrest for medical reasons. According to Venezuelan paper El Nacional, the socialist regime claimed Ledezma had “violated” his release provisions with a plan to flee the country. He has since been returned to house arrest.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Leopoldo López, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for organizing peaceful protests in 2014, was also accused of trying to flee the country as well as violating his house arrest provisions with “political proselytizing” by urging Venezuelans to assemble against the vote.
Since taking office in 2013, the Maduro regime has increased its brutality against political dissidents amid the country’s worsening humanitarian crisis and mass opposition to the government. According to Venezuelan outlet RunRunes, 153 people have been killed since daily opposition protests began in April, as police use water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas to contain the demonstrations.
Current Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, a former loyalist to the late dictator Hugo Chávez, has also denounced the regime for “serious and systematic” human rights violations, and accused Maduro of “state terrorism.” In response, the country’s government controlled supreme court has charged Ortega with”threatening public ethics and administrative morals” and of “violating and threatening the fundamental principles of the Constitution.”