Saturday July 30th marked the beginning of the death throes for democracy in Venezuela. Following weeks of public protests by hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans against the regime of President Nicolas Maduro, a sham election was held to “elect” members for a new constitutional assembly which is expected to grant dictatorial power to Maduro.
As reported by NBC News and other news agencies, millions of voters boycotted what they considered to be a “sham” election. While the government election officials placed voter turnout at 8.1 million or a 41.5%, other sources including a Venezuelan public opinion company put the actual number of voters at 3.6 million or about 18.5%. News pictures taken on Saturday showed many polling sites completely empty.
The election results were denounced by multiple nations and the U.S. Treasury Department issued a statement on July 31st imposing economic sanctions on the Maduro government as a result.
Even more troubling news broke during the early hours of Monday morning as home videos were released showing that two opposition leaders, Leopoldo Lopez and Caracas Mayor Antonio Modezma, who had been under house arrest, were carried off in the night by government intelligence agents.
These Gestapo-like tactics are favored by dictatorships such as Putin in Russia or Erdogan in Turkey, but it should be no less concerning that supporters of Donald Trump also want to arrest and imprison his latest political opponent Hillary Clinton.
Democracy is dying in Venezuela. It is hanging on by a badly frayed rope in the United States.