Murderous communists? Who knew? Take a look at what they are doing in Venezuela

When we think of Venezuela, we think of starving people fleeing their country without access to food, clothing, toilet paper, or medical care.  We think of street urchins fighting over garbage scraps with machetes.  We think of migrant exoduses from socialism.

But there's another reality about the place, and it's not getting the attention, say, Saudi Arabia or Russia is, over the killings of dissidents.  The Maduro regime is showing an alarming willingness to violently attack opposition leaders, and it's moving in on high-profile ones who had previously seemed untouchable.  They've already jailed politician Leopoldo Lopez and driven many others into exile.  But the regime's people have stepped up the thuggery to higher levels since then.  They tortured to death a city councilman who was then flung off a ten-story building earlier this month.  And they encircled and beat up leading opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, likely signaling intent to kill.

Machado first came to the fore in 2005, when she was greeted by President George W. Bush as the leader of Sumate, a Venezuelan non-government organization that sought clean, zero-fraud elections in Venezuela.  I met her when I was in Caracas in 2005 and found her a fine, straight-arrow, and extremely nice person, with an indomitable will to ensure that Venezuela keep to its claimed democratic norms, yet she was such a natural, normal person.  I was delighted that she liked President Bush, refusing to engage in the usual Bush-bashing of the time.  You may remember the famous picture of them meeting here:

The other day, she looked like this:

It's utterly vile and horrible – she was encircled by Chavista thugs from Venezuela's Cuban-directed secret service, known as SEBIN, and beaten up.  It's not the first time they have done this – Chavista thugs assaulted her in the legislature in 2015 and broke her nose.  Foreign Policy at the time called her "Venezuela's Marked Woman."  But this assault seems to have been even more deliberate and planned.  The tweet showing the shocking damage comes from Andrés Pastrana, a former conservative president of Colombia, who is worried about her.  According to the Miami Herald:

Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado, attacked with clubs and rocks Wednesday by pro-government thugs, is the most recent target of an increasingly desperate Nicolas Maduro regime because of her steadfast resistance to a new round of political negotiations, former Colombian President Andres Pastrana said Thursday.

Pastrana, who had warned two days earlier that Machado's life was in danger, told el Nuevo Herald that all the actions against Machado were being directed by the secret police, known as SEBIN.

"What we're eeing is that the stumbling block on the way to the false negotiations" between the regime and the opposition "is María Corina Machado," Pastrana. said

"Information from friends from the Venezuelan opposition and friends we have in other places pointed to the possibility that they were organizing an attack" against Machado, the former Colombian president added.

Machado said the townspeople – at great risk – rushed to help her, which was a great comfort, and the Herald reported that Sen. Marco Rubio spoke out on her behalf on Twitter, blasting the outrageous act of thuggery against the woman.

But she felt the attack was different from the others:

"The young people who were accompanying me later told us that this time it was different because they somehow felt that they were beaten in order to separate them from me," she said.  "It's like there was an order to attack me."

About eight of the attackers, including some women, managed to reach Machado.  One of them pulled on her pony tail, wrenching her back.

While one of the attackers held her from behind, others beat her with fists and clubs.  A woman hit her on the head with a club, and she was also hit on the nose.

Overall, about 20 people were injured or beaten during the attack, Machado said.

This is disturbing stuff, and I feel concern for Machado's safety.  She's the only opposition leader left, and up until now, she's been relatively untouchable.  That the regime thinks it can attack her and get away with it seems to signal that the communist regime feels immensely threatened by her and believes that it can do absolutely anything it wants to preserve its grip on power and get away with it, same as Russia and Saudi Arabia, except without the international condemnation.  Where is that?  Where are the loud voices that yelled about the Saudi dissident being murdered while this brutality is going on much closer to our shores?

The regime knows that the sticks and stones of global condemnation can never hurt it, because unlike Saudi Arabia or Russia, it no longer seeks any international respect.  It sees how other regimes get away with this, most notably the Castro regime, which has gotten away with murder and torture for decades, and is rapidly following Cuba's path downhill.

Unless the regime is thrown out, it's going to go on.  The left may yell against a future Pinochet to hose the place out, but the Venezuelan military, unlike the Chilean one, has been corrupted by Chavismo for years.  It's hard to think such a thing will happen.  The case grows for intervention by the region's neighbors.  What we are looking at is not just a failed regime that can't feed its people; we are looking at a communist thug regime that beats and kills dissidents.  The two go hand in hand in any communist regime, every single time.

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