The future is looking darker for Venezuela as Cuba’s dictatorship tightens its grip on that country. Freedom-loving Venezuelans have precious time left to stop and begin reversing the Cubanization of their country, which will leave them living in a repressive and corrupt totalitarian dictatorship. And as Cubans sadly know all too well, once you are in the grips of a Castro-style dictatorship, it is almost impossible to escape.
A ‘hard hand’ in Venezuela
ANY DOUBT that new Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro is taking his cues from Cuba should have been dispelled by events over the weekend. As Mr. Maduro huddled with the Castro brothers in Havana and recommitted Venezuela to the heavy subsidies that keep the Cuban economy afloat, his functionaries back in Caracas made two announcements: first, that a promised audit of the questionable election that ratified Mr. Maduro as the successor to Hugo Chavez would be perfunctory, excluding the materials that the opposition says would show evidence of fraud; and second, that a 35-year-oldU.S. filmmaker arrested last week on ludicrous accusations of espionage had been criminally charged.The dog-eared Castro playbook calls for distracting the public at times of crisis with crude anti-Americanism — and taking hostages who can be used for leverage with Washington. For more than three years, Cuba has been holding Alan P. Gross, a Bethesda-based contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, on patently false espionage charges, in the hope that he can swapped for five confessed Cuban spies imprisoned or paroled in the United States.
Now Mr. Maduro has his own “gringo,” as he called him: Timothy Tracy, a Hollywood-based documentary maker who spent several months interviewing Chavez militants and opposition students before he was abruptly arrested at the airport last Wednesday. Unlike Mr. Gross, who was hired by USAID to deliver Internet equipment to Cuba’s Jewish community, Mr. Tracy was not working for any U.S. agency, as the State Department quickly made clear. Friends described him as a naif who barely speaks Spanish.
Mr. Maduro and the regime’s propaganda apparatus are nevertheless portraying him as a sinister secret agent who was financing “violent groups” to provoke “a civil war.” That, claimed Interior and Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez, “would lead to the intervention of a foreign power to bring order to the country.” Fear of a U.S. invasion? Another Castro cliché.
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Venezuela vote audit, rejected by opposition, beginsOn Sunday, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles said he would appeal to international organizations for help.
CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan authorities on Monday began a partial audit of the disputed election won by Hugo Chávez’s handpicked successor, as the opposition flatly rejected the move as insufficient.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who says he was the real winner of the April 14 presidential vote, has accused election officials of rejecting his appeal for a full recount on the orders of the ruling Socialist Party.
The National Electoral Board has ruled that President Nicolas Maduro – the leftist heir to the late Chávez – won by 1.49 percent of the vote, amending an earlier tally that had Maduro up by 1.8 percent.
The board has insisted it is legally impossible to carry out a full recount, and that no audit can reverse Maduro’s win.
The 40-year-old Capriles has said he will not accept anything short of a full recount, and in a Twitter posting on Monday he lashed out at Maduro, 50, calling him a “laggard who illegitimately has stolen the presidency.”
Capriles has until May 6 to take his fight to the Supreme Court, and is widely expected to do so. On Sunday, Capriles said he would appeal to international organizations.
Capriles – a businessman, lawyer and Miranda state governor – alleges that some voters cast multiple ballots or even used ballots belonging to people who had died.
Both the government and Capriles have urged their supporters to turn out for massive street protests planned for May 1.