Venezuelans, abandoned by their newly sworn-in political elites and trapped in an asymmetric war zone, have begun demanding the individual gun rights they lost under late dictator Hugo Chávez.
Rumbo Libertad, Venezuela’s first genuinely conservative political movement, is leading the charge.
Venezuelans once enjoyed partial gun rights before the Chávez and, now, Nicolás Maduro socialist tyranny. Chávez progressively violated those rights, especially after the 2002 failed coup against him, before ultimately pushing for his total “Disarmament Law” (Ley Desarme). Chávez did not live to see Maduro impose that law in 2013, redeeming “the cause” after the first dictator’s passing.
The law is an affront to individual rights, essentially banning Venezuelans from possessing firearms for any reason. The result, as with all gun restrictions, has been full disarmament of law-abiding citizens while Venezuelan prisons overflow with advanced weaponry and the nation’s murder rate skyrockets, placing it routinely atop the list of the world’s deadliest non-wartime states.
Venezuelans suffered several weeks without any sort of electricity during March. Hundreds of people have died (including newborn babies) and more have had their food rot or their bodies collapse due to stress and hunger. Amid this situation, organized crime and looting became the most horrible plagues for Venezuelans to endure.
In one particularly awful case, the owner of a grocery store in the city of Maracaibo killed himself after watching chavista hordes loot his establishment. In the same western city of the country, business owners defended their private property by shooting looters away in an act of rebellion against the communist law.
Chavista gangs, also known as “colectivos,” have been the armed corps in charge of eliminating dissidents, breaking into the private property of innocents, and attacking activists and journalists for decades since Chávez became President. But even having the same deadly weapons as the Venezuelan Army, it is a fact that they haven’t been able to neutralize Venezuelans against the regime.
After Brazilian right-winger Jair Bolsonaro was sworn president in January, the Venezuelan regime appeared to experience a massive hypocritical rapture. Maduro established training camps and started to give away weapons to chavistas to “defend the nation against American Imperialism,” violating his own law to instigate a civil war and a very dangerous persecution against the people.
That Communist mayhem keeps on growing, and so does the distrust towards Interim President Juan Guaidó’s effective use of power. The latest polls released by the firm Meganálisis show that Guaidó’s support has dropped from 83.7 percent (01/23/19) to 54.9 percent (04/01/19). Followed by that number is the growing support for ending the chavista regime, peaking at 89.4 percent (04/01/19). This situation made Venezuelans propose what was a taboo measure in past years: the abolition of (or rebellion against) the anti-Gun Law that has helped the regime to control Venezuelan society.
Our conservative grassroots movement Rumbo Libertad has echoed the proposal as the only effective measure not only to defend life, liberty, and private property but also as a mechanism for the people to defend their sacred honor against tyranny.
La AN no muestra interés de derogar la Ley Desarme ante la violencia del chavismo.
La ciudadanía tiene la Libertad de defender su vida, su familia y su honor que es sagrado de cualquier acción hostil de la tiranía.
Todos tienen derecho a la legítima defensa. #LibertadONada
— Roderick Navarro (@RoderickNavarro) March 19, 2019
“The National Assembly does not show interest in abolishing the anti-Gun Law given the chavista violence,” Roderick Navarro, General Coordinator of Rumbo Libertad, recently argued. “The citizenry has the freedom to defend their lives, their families and their sacred honor against any hostility from the tyranny. All the people have a right to legitimate defense.”
Eduardo Bittar, also a General Coordinator of Rumbo Libertad, recently posted a video practicing at a shooting range. “It’s legitimate to defend ourselves against a regime that intends to exterminate our people,” said the Venezuelan leader at the end of the piece.
Es legítimo defenderse de un régimen que pretende la exterminación de los venezolanos.
¡Libertad o Nada! >>> pic.twitter.com/qQv2GqVuKU
— Eduardo Bittar (@EDUARDO_BITTAR) March 31, 2019
While the resistance is charging for the abolition of the Communist anti-gun law and declaring disobedience against it if necessary, this April 23rd the National Assembly discussed an “Agreement for the Disarming of Civilians in Venezuela” (only terrorists are the ones who have guns in Venezuela). In his speech, Interim President Guaidó only condemned the repression led by regime-financed chavista gangs against citizens. In what could have been a moment to take a vital pro-gun rights position, he reaffirmed the disarming of the population.
Our gun rights position shares a similar tone with the recently approved self-defense law proposed by populist Italian Vice-Premiere Matteo Salvini. Although our national realities differ, the support for the right to self-defense as a key domestic policy remains strong in contexts where crime has been raging for too many decades.
Rumbo Libertad has close relations with another politician that promotes gun rights in his country along with his family: Eduardo Bolsonaro, Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s son and Federal Deputy (currently Chief of the Foreign Relations Commission in the Brazilian Parliament). On gun rights, Bolsonaro has also stated that, “in Brazil, there should be a study about the defensive use of firearms, not just the aggressive use. We always argue that arms are just a piece of metal. They do the same evil as a car. In order to do wrong, you must have a person behind it. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. You could use either guns, knives or stones.”
The current status of gun rights in Brazil is a limited one. The “Disarmament Act” (Estatuto do Desarmamento) passed and sanctioned by communist former President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva in 2003, was reformed by Jair Bolsonaro the same day he was sworn in as president four months ago. Part of the reform was made to guarantee the right to self-defense, although the rest of this initiative needs approval from Congress.
It is necessary to recall that the NGO Viva Rio, who was in charge of organizing the seizing of guns in Venezuela, was the same that did it in Brazil, and also has a partnership with Soros’ Open Society.
On the Venezuelan case, Eduardo Bolsonaro recently stated that Venezuelans would have more chances to free themselves of the tyranny of Maduro if “they had guns.”
Rumbo Libertad, and a growing number of exhausted, hungry Venezuelans, agree.
Rafael Valera is the Communications Director of the Venezuelan conservative movement Rumbo Libertad.