As it stands now the official protest death toll in Venezuela is up to 31, and the way President Nicolas Maduro’s government sees it, someone has to take the blame.
First it was Leopoldo Lopez, the former Mayor of Caracas who became a wanted man after beginning the protests last month. He gave himself up, and left his wife Liliana (and children) to continue protesting in the streets.
Since that didn’t fix matters, the government has a new target — 46-year-old opposition politician and Lopez ally Maria Corina Machado. Vowing revenge for the deaths (especially that of a Venezuela National Guard captain who died on Monday) the legislature has demanded an investigation into her activities on Tuesday.
Some legislators chanted “justice, justice” as a video played showing Machado’s close ties to the U.S., the Maduro/Chavez regime’s ideological enemy. She is accused of a variety of crimes against the regime, including treason.
Being a legislator herself, Machado was there to watch the entire production. She cannot be tried without approval from the Supreme Court and state prosecutor, but that shouldn’t be much of a holdup.
There is, however, one thing working in Machado’s favour. She isn’t in Venezuela. On Wednesday she left the country to appeal to the Organisation of American States. Panama’s representative ceded his seat to her so that the opposition’s case to the body.
When she goes home, though, she’ll go directly to jail. At least that’s what Maduro deputy, Diosdado Cabello made it sound like in a speech this week (that’s the video, it’s in Spanish).
“She can go to the OAS court, she can go to the kingdom of heaven,” said Cabello. “But here in Venezuela, she is going to be tried as a murderer, a terrorist; she is going to be tried for crimes against humanity, for conspiracy, for destabilization of this country.”
Meanwhile the protests continue, the prices for food (which is already scarce in the country) are on the rise, the official unemployment rate hit 9.5% last month meaning 1.32 million are jobless, and more mayors are joining Lopez in jail.
In the meantime Venezuelans are still protesting. On her Twitter account, Machado called for a major protest on Saturday. The sign below says, “In China its the year of the horse, in Venezuela it’s the year of the donkey” on the top sign. On the bottom it says ‘Leave, Castro Communist!”
And yes, that’s a picture of Nicolas Maduro.
They’re also remembering their dead.