We should have known Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro would be this bad.
He told us his intentions in an interview in December 2015:
“We are … sons of Chavez, heirs of Bolívar … and of Lenin. Even Trotsky, why not? I won’t add Stalin, otherwise some comrades will strangle me,” he told the Italian communist newspaper il manifesto.
I help edit manifesto’s English-language edition, and when I read that quote at the time I thought, “This man is a delusional egomaniac.” And he’s also honest: Since then, the Maduro government has killed young protesters in the streets and imprisoned people for thought crimes. His reign has been marked by food and medical shortages resulting from poor governance.
“I won’t add Stalin.” But he would have if genocide weren’t taboo in polite company.
Maduro heads a government that is either certifiably delusional or dishonest as a matter of policy.
When Maduro realized public opinion had turned definitively against him, he decreed that a new legislative body, the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), would be called to rewrite the constitution, presumably to cement his rule. It would be more powerful than the actual legislature, the National Assembly, controlled by the opposition. (The ANC is recognized as legitimate by the governments of Iran, Russia, China and Syria but by virtually no one else.)
Diosdado Cabello, a man whose name means “God-given hair,” is a member of the National Assembly and one of Maduro’s closest allies. On the day the ANC officially assumed power, Cabello tweeted, “For those screaming, the ANC has not eliminated the [National Assembly], it has only assumed the functions of those who have been placed at the fringe of the Constitution!!”
“And who gave them that right [to assume those functions]?” one person replied. “The people chose a National Assembly because they don’t want you here.”
The only way out of this crisis for many Venezuelans is out of Venezuela. I just spoke with someone who’s planning to leave for Argentina. Another friend of his is also leaving, and they got together with a group for drinks recently. At the same bar, there were two other groups of friends having goodbye drinks. An entire generation is emptying from the country.
The fall issue of my magazine, Latterly, deals with la situación, as Venezuelans refer to the mess they’re in. If you’re interested, check out our effort to send copies of the magazine straight to Maduro himself. As our reporter there wrote: “Venezuela is the country of Francisco de Miranda and Simón Bolívar. It is a nation of heroic people. Sooner than later, these monsters in neckties will be erased from our history.”