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  • Venezuela’s Bipolar Post-Chavez Regime Arrests American Filmmaker

    EFE/David Fernandez/Newscom

    EFE/David Fernandez/Newscom

    On April 25, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced the arrest of American Timothy Hallet Tracy. “The gringo who financed the violent groups,” Maduro said, “has been captured.”

    His justice minister claimed that Tracy was trained as a spy and was involved in an intricate plot aimed at fostering destabilizing violence.

    At the root of the current problem is the regime’s fundamentally bipolar, often paranoid approach to governing. In the aftermath of the April 14 presidential elections, the razor-thin margin separating Maduro, the late Hugo Chavez’s chosen heir, from opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has unnerved the regime. The Maduro government portrays itself as both victim and determined bully in the same breath.

    At one moment the Maduro regime warns that it is under siege by a destabilization plan hatched by the U.S. in conjunction with the opposition. Official organs claim that the U.S. is out to “defeat the Bolivarian Revolution” with a “classic fascist movement.” Maduro informs Venezuelans that Chavez’s cancer was caused by U.S. dirty tricks and that the CIA has his name on its “hit list.” Washington, it appears, has little better to do than plot Maduro’s downfall but elects to send amateurs to do the job.

    The next moment, Maduro and company act like bullies. They threaten Capriles and others with prison. A parliamentary commission of Maduro loyalists promises to investigate domestic disturbances and go after the intellectual authors of violence even if advanced via “subliminal messages.”

    The Maduro government, for instance, claims that nine individuals have died as a result of electoral violence, yet it offers no proof in a nation with one of the world’s highest murder rates. The regime says opposition protesters attacked government health clinics with firebombs, but these appear to be fabrications.

    The real truth is that Capriles is committed to a long-haul effort to deliver the “truth” to the Venezuelan people. He and his supporters—one half of the nation—are increasingly convinced that Maduro’s slender majority (275,000 votes) was obtained with a combination of electoral payoffs, voter coercion, physical intimidation, and outright fraud. The opposition demands a serious, professional audit of the results, including a review of voter rolls and fingerprint records (used for voter identification) in approximately 45 percent of the polling stations. The Maduro-dominated electoral council is stonewalling despite an earlier commitment to perform an audit.

    Sadly, Tracy is caught in the political rip current created by Maduro’s efforts to fill the void left by Chavez’s death. Treating mood swings and bipolarity in an individual is always a difficult medical challenge. When these symptoms are manifest in the collective mentality of a nation’s leadership, the challenges are magnified enormously and have lasting international consequences.

    In the interim, the Obama Administration needs to take active steps to protect Tracy and other American citizens from malicious and baseless prosecution by a foreign government.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

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