A small group of radical supporters of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro burned an incorrectly made American flag at a rally branded “No More Trump” organized to gather petitions against sanctions placed on the socialist regime, Venezuelan media reported on Sunday.
Maduro announced the “No More Trump” campaign on Friday, designed as a response to a new set of sanctions freezing the U.S. assets of the regime in their entirety and targeting individuals or corporate entities that attempt to finance the regime. The campaign consists of a “manifesto” against President Donald Trump that Maduro has promised to hand to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Gutérres along with the signatures of millions of Venezuelans, who he claims will have signed the manifesto.
Saturday’s event was intended to organize Maduro supporters and gather signatures for the letter.
“The global protest against Trump and his blockade that makes the people of Venezuela suffer starts this Saturday, August 10,” Maduro promised on Friday. “One slogan: #NoMoreTrump. Enough of making Venezuela suffer. Get your hands off Venezuela, Donald Trump!”
The rally on Saturday featured anti-Trump T-shirts reading “Yankee Go Home,” posters calling Trump the devil, and the aforementioned burning of the American flag.
The cloth that the anti-American rally-goers waved and ultimately burned featured 15 stripes and what appeared to be around 40 stars. The American flag has 13 stripes – one for each of the original 13 colonies – and 50 stars, one for each state.
In one photo of the burning, a Maduro supporter can be seen enjoying a Coca-Cola beverage – often seen as a symbol of American culture around the world – despite the rampant shortages of basic goods in the country.
The Agence France-Presse (AFP) claimed that “thousands of Chavista supporters” attended the “No More Trump” rally. AFP noted that many of the posters held up at the rally depicted violence or insulted President Trump. “One poster showed, for example, an illustration of Maduro kicking Trump, along with the words ‘Loyal Always, Traitors Never.'” Another, it added, simply read “Trump, go sanction your mom.”
Other posters showed Simón Bolívar, the nation’s founding father, doing the kicking. Late dictator Hugo Chávez also featured prominently in signs and posters, as Maduro proclaimed him “eternal” leader and insists on his image remaining a key part of Venezuelan socialist lore. Many protesters wore anti-Trump shirts.
Maduro and his wife, “First Combatant” Cilia Flores, were the first two to sign the petition against Trump, according to Maduro’s government-controlled media.
“I come to this stage to call upon the people of Venezuela to struggle, to combat, to action against Trump,” Maduro said in remarks at the rally. “Respect Venezuela, damn it!”
Maduro claimed that “all the peoples of the world” were united against’s Trump’s “imperialist aggression” and that the small assembly his government had organized proved that.
He went on to blame Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó, who he has not allowed to govern by refusing to leave the executive spot after his term ended in January, for the sanctions against his regime.
“Yes we can, Venezuela, defeat the economic aggression measures taken by the government of Donald Trump at the request of that bandit, that despicable worm named Juan Guaidó. Despicable worm acting against his own country, a despicable bandit, it has to be said!” Maduro told the audience.
“All this economic aggression against our finances, commerce, food, medicine for the people of Venezuela – all this evil, bestiality – has been requested and openly supported by that bandit, that treacherous worm named Juan Guaidó,” Maduro said.
“Worm” or “maggot” is a decades-old communist term in Spanish typically used by the Cuban regime for Cuban refugees and the greater Cuban exile community. The Castro regime directly controls Caracas through Maduro, according to multiple Venezuelan officials who have defected.
Vicepresident of Communications, Tourism, and Culture – which is one title – Jorge Rodríguez claimed on Sunday that the regime had gathered over 13 million signatures on Saturday. The “manifesto” will be open for signing until September 10, he added, calling Trump “genocidal, racist, [and a] xenophobe.” State television announced that the socialist regime would be installing regular petition-signing checkpoints throughout the nation’s largest cities beginning on Monday.
Maduro attempted a similar petition campaign against Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, in 2015. Obama had branded Maduro’s Venezuela a “national security threat” to the United States at the time, citing Maduro’s ties to terrorist organizations like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Hezbollah. In response, Maduro announced that he would gather millions of signatures against the move and hand Obama personally the entirety of the petition at that year’s Summit of the Americas.
To gather the signatures, Maduro threatened all government employees with losing their job if they did not sign. All Venezuelans could receive bribes such as whole chickens – difficult to obtain in the starved socialist country – or a position further in front of their local supermarket lines in exchange for signing.
Despite the use of government force to threaten Venezuelans into signing, Maduro failed to put together the petition. He also failed to challenge Obama when meeting him in person that year, instead engaging in a cordial conversation with the American president. Maduro claimed he had 11 million signatures on his petition, but never showed them to Obama or anyone else.