Maduro is getting scared for September 1st

Thousands of Venezuelan citizens have begun marching to the capital Caracas, following the announcement by la Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) leaders, to join together a massive protest on September 1st in support of a recall referendum — A vote which could oust President Nicolas Maduro from power. The momentum for this week’s show of public support for the referendum is gathering pace, and Maduro is getting scared. Unsurprisingly, his regime is deploying all the tools at its disposal — judicial and military — to instil fear in those who simply want their democratic voice to be heard.

Last week, senior Socialist Party official, Diosdado Cabello requested that prosecutors and judges preemptively prepare cases against protest organizers, based on comments taken completely out of context from National Assembly Member Luis Florido’s statement on the demonstration. Cabello and his colleagues hope that by abusing and then waving the stick of the law, they will deter people from taking to the streets.

And if they can’t hit Maduro’s opponents with the law, then why not hit them in their pockets? Regime officials also announced that they would remove senior employees from public offices who had put their name to an initial petition in support of the recall referendum. These are attempts not only to handicap opposition leaders, but to send a clear and threatening message to their followers.

And the government isn’t stopping there. The regime then announced a counter protest, “La Toma de Venezuela” or “the taking of Venezuela”, an uncreative play on the MUD’s “La Toma de Caracas”.

Most worryingly of all perhaps, the Venezuelan National Guard (FAN) has installed security checkpoints in an attempt to delay Venezuelans on their way to Caracas by scouring through suitcases, cars, and personal belongings. The potential for intimidation is clear.

The timing of these measures by the FAN is highly suspect. Frustrated and tired of government abuses, National Assembly Member José Brito recently asked where the FAN has been when drugs were being smuggled across the country or when private citizens are held at gunpoint by thieves? Venezuelans have every right to wonder whether the FAN serves to protect them, or the regime.

Nonetheless, the citizens of Venezuela are resolute in the fight for their right to vote and they are not alone. Venezuelans and concerned friends in more than 30 cities across the world have announced that they will unite in the cry for change which is so desperately needed in this beleaguered Latin American nation. Boston, Toronto, Zurich, Milan, Madrid, and many other cities will be hosting demonstrations between the 1st and 4th September to stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan people.

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