Michael Moynihan thinks the arrest of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez exposes the country’s government as a faux democracy:
If you doubted that Maduro was presiding over a rotting Potemkin democracy—kangaroo courts packed with loyalists, a neutered media, violent street gangs beholden to the government—witness his Mussolini-on-the-piazza performance yesterday, when he announced Lopez’s arrest in front of a crowd of regime loyalists. Maduro told the assembled that President of the National Assembly (and the one of the country’s most powerful and recognizable chavistas) Diosdado Cabello had personally driven Lopez to jail, in a bizarre, professional wrestling-type victory lap for the regime: “At this moment, Diosdado Cabello is driving his car and taking Leopoldo López to a jail outside Caracas,” Maduro announced, assuring his supporters of “the surrender of the political chief of the Venezuelan fascist right wing, already in the hands of justice.”
The Daily Beast translated the speech Lopez gave just before being arrested. It begins:
Today, I show my face before an unjust justice system, before a corrupt judiciary and before a justice system that does not pass judgments in accordance with the constitution and the laws.
But today, I also offer you, Venezuelans, our deepest commitment that, if my imprisonment helps awaken our people, if it is good enough to finally make Venezuela wake up so that the majority of those of us who want change are able to effect that change peacefully and democratically, then this infamous imprisonment that Nicolás Maduro wants, so openly and so cowardly, then for me it will have been worth it. This is the biggest example of how there is no separation of powers in Venezuela. How many times did Maduro say he wanted me in jail? How many times did he say he was giving instructions for our arrests? What is a president doing giving instructions to a district attorney, or to a court? Those actions are the best examples of how there is no justice in Venezuela.
Uri Friedman translates the tweet above from Lopez, which was written on the day he was arrested:
I’m disconnecting. Thank you Venezuela. The change is in each one of us. We will not give up. I will not do it!
(Photo by Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images)