Maduro steps up his repression of democracy

Crowd attacking car (© Matias Delacroix/AP Images)
Maduro's thugs attack interim President Juan Guaidó's car at the airport in Venezuela. (© Matias Delacroix/AP Images)

The former Maduro regime and its allies continue to find new ways to repress democracy and brutalize the Venezuelan people.

When interim President Juan Guaidó returned from his diplomatic trip abroad on February 11, pro-Maduro bullies attacked him at the airport near Caracas. One tried to smash his car’s window with a traffic cone.

While Guaidó was unharmed, others weren’t so lucky.

Maduro’s cronies beat journalists while the security forces watched and did nothing. Several reporters were seriously injured and many more were robbed of their equipment, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“[W]hen journalists attempted to file a formal complaint about the attacks at the prosecutor’s office, armed police officers blockaded the building and did not let them enter,” the committee said.

Regime security forces seized Guaidó’s uncle, Juan José Márquez, as he passed through customs. The Maduro regime alleges that Márquez carried explosive material on Guaidó’s return flight from Portugal and has suspended the airline, TAP Air Portugal, from sending flights to Caracas. Portuguese Foreign Minister Teresa Ribeiro told the Associated Press the decision was “completely unfounded and unjustified.”

“This is an obvious and vicious effort to attack Guaido’s closest advisers and his family,” said the State Department’s Elliott Abrams.

Márquez was last seen in the custody of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence, a pro-Maduro intelligence agency known for torturing citizens.

Over a week later, officers of the Directorate forced entry into Márquez’s home while his wife and children were present. The interim government and Márquez’s lawyer denounced the act.

In a State Department statement, the U.S. condemned the baseless detention and called for the Maduro regime to release Márquez. “We will hold Nicolás Maduro and those who surround him fully responsible for the safety and welfare of interim President Guaido’s family and all those who defend democracy in Venezuela,” it said.

Juan Guaidó surrounded by crowd and cameras (© Ariana Cubillos/AP Images)
Interim President Juan Guaidó at the Simón Bolívar International Airport in Venezuela. (© Ariana Cubillos/AP Images)

According to reports, last year there were 2,219 arbitrary arrests in Venezuela. Since Maduro took power in 2014, there have been roughly 15,000.

Last month, according to the National Assembly, the Maduro regime illegally looted an international aid station, leaving the Venezuelan people with fewer medical supplies and less nonperishable food, medicines and blankets.

“The United States condemns the thousands of killings, attacks and arbitrary detentions that have taken place in Venezuela,” the State Department statement said. “We stand with the victims’ families in demanding justice and accountability.”