Last week we reported that in addition to confiscating the guns of Venezuela’s famished population, president Maduro had a warning for would-be coup plotters (perhaps sensing that a coup is imminent): “Did you see what happened in Turkey?” said Maduro, in a televised public event on Thursday evening. “Erdogan will seem like a nursing baby compared to what the Bolivarian revolution will do if the right wing steps over the line with a coup.”
He didn’t stop here: as Bloomberg reported last week, in a replay of one of the ugliest chapters in the two-decade rule of the socialist party in Venezuela, a top government official said Thursday that a list of those who signed a petition seeking to recall President Nicolas Maduro will be handed over to government ministries and state-run companies. The tactic is clearly an attempt to intimidate government workers into staying away from the recall petition, and thus to keep Maduro in power.
“In a revolution, revolutionaries must be in charge of state institutions, not political opponents,” Diosdado Cabello, a top official in the ruling Socialist Party and a lawmaker, said at a rally. “This is not a violation of the right to work.”
Cabello has made similar threats earlier this year, but Thursday’s comments brought back memories of the so-called “Tascon List” which was used by the government under then President Hugo Chavez to fire state workers and bar others from everything from jobs to loans for having signed a petition for a recall referendum in 2004 that Chavez eventually survived. The list was compiled by then lawmaker Luis Tascon and electronic versions of the list circulated throughout Venezuela even being sold by sidewalk vendors. Some Venezuelans even attempted to pay officials to be removed from the list.
There was some hope that despite the threats, Maduro would not actually follow up on his tacit threat, however overnight, Venezuela confirmed that it would remove state employees who signed a petition to recall President Nicolas Maduro as the opposition seeks to remove him amid an unprecedented economic and social crisis. In the first confirmation by a cabinet member, Information Minister Luis Jose Marcano said the government is free to name as well as remove high-level bureaucrats it has appointed.
“Whoever has a position that is freely appointed and removable, those referred to yesterday by the PSUV on President Maduro’s instructions, evidently cannot be allowed to attack the Bolivarian revolution,” Marcano said in an interview on the Globovision network, referring to the ruling party. “A lot of these people end up sabotaging the revolution.”
Jorge Rodriguez, a national leader of the ruling PSUV and mayor of Caracas’s Libertador municipality, on Monday warned that high-ranking appointees in five ministries had 48 hours before being re-assigned to a new position after lawmaker Diosdado Cabello first made the threat earlier this month.
Maduro has not commented publicly on the matter.
The opposition demanded the Public Prosecutor and Human Rights Ombudsman investigate “these violations to the labor law,” opposition leader Jesus “Chuo” Torrealba said on the opposition coalition’s Twitter account. Considering that Venezuela is now a quasi dictatorial joint venture run between Maduro and the military (recall that the army is now in charge of the country’s food supply system), we don’t anticipate the opposition’s effort to seek a fair challenge to the Maduro threat will meet with much success.
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