Op-Ed

Venezuela’s willing accomplices

ACCUSED: Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado speaks to National Guard soldiers as she arrives to testify at a prosecutor’s office last week.
ACCUSED: Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado speaks to National Guard soldiers as she arrives to testify at a prosecutor’s office last week. AP

It happened. Engineer María Corina Machado was formally accused of the attempted assassination of a ruling leader and of conspiring against Venezuela by means of a sinister coup d’état.

“Proof” of the attempted assassination consisted of false e-mails sent by the Internet. They were fabricated by President Nicolás Maduro’s police. Google corroborated the fraud. It was an exceptionally clumsy fakery.

So what? Maduro and his cronies are not bothered by being caught in the act of lying. They don’t even take the trouble to rectify or excuse their actions. As in 1984, Orwell’s novel, the regime has an omnipotent Ministry of Truth and in its “newspeak” it writes and rewrites history without the slightest shame.

Victims and victimizers exchange roles with a snap of the fingers.

This manipulation began with the 1992 version of a military coup. Magically, the late Hugo Chávez, who plotted the coup, turned into the hero and democratically elected President Carlos Andrés Pérez into the criminal.

Lying knows no bounds. Didn’t Chávez say that the earthquake that destroyed Haiti was caused by a secret Pentagon weapon used by imperialism to seize that Caribbean country?

That’s the essence of totalitarianism: regimes that seize the truth and wring its neck.

They say or deny whatever they please. Chavists are only interested in the stories they tell.

They make up a story and disseminate it, and whoever denies it is a counter-revolutionary in the service of the CIA, persecuted by the courts of (in)justice and the toga-clad arm of the victorious revolution.

Nevertheless, formally, Venezuela is a liberal democracy, with individual freedoms, human and civil rights, political parties, separation of powers, private property and periodic elections. That’s stated in the nation’s Constitution, promulgated with great fanfare in 1999.

The reality is that Venezuela is a disguised dictatorship, thoroughly corrupt, governed by a clique willing to kill to avoid losing power, guided and controlled from Havana by two old communists intent on bleeding their rich oil colony down to the last drop.

Why are they now staging that clumsy maneuver against María Corina? Because the movement founded by Chávez and led today by Maduro aims to crush any Venezuelan capable of uniting the majority of the people against them, and because terror and intimidation are the key tools to induce obedience.

That is why they imprisoned opposition leaders Leopoldo López, Daniel Ceballos and Enzo Scarano, while keeping Manuel Rosales in exile. That is why, at one point, Henrique Capriles, a one-time opposition presidential candidate, ended up in a cell.

Just as guilty as these jailers, albeit to a lesser degree, are their accomplices. Are Latin American presidents Cristina Kirchner, José Mujica and Dilma Rousseff, Venezuela’s Mercosur partners, aware of the filthy sewer that Venezuela has become?

Doesn’t it bother Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (as it didn’t bother his predecessor, Rodríguez Zapatero) that he sells arms to military officers led by generals accused of drug trafficking, knowing that they will be used to repress the Venezuelan people?

Do the European, Latin American, Asian, U.S., Chinese and Russian businessmen think that they have a moral blank check that allows them to do shady deals with the Venezuelan government without dirtying their hands and to pay big bribes without realizing that the crimes committed by their hosts stain them?

When someone gets in bed with the Mafia or the riff-raff, he is responsible, to some degree, of what the Mafia or the riff-raff do.

The list of accomplices is long and grim, but those who appear on it — even though they don’t appear in this article for reasons of space — should realize that the imprisoned, persecuted or exiled Venezuelans know that the old Spanish saying is painfully true: “As guilty as the rustler who kills the cow is the man who binds its legs.”

The accomplices are no different from the jailers. They’re also guilty.

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