Venezuela Prepares for Massive Protests By Arresting Activists

2008 Cato Institute Milton Friedman Prize winner Yon Goicoechea is among the arrested.


As Venezuela prepares for nationwide protests calling for the recall of its wildly unpopular President Nicolas Maduro scheduled for this Thursday, its socialist government is arresting activist leaders and opposition politicians.

In other words, business as usual for the "Chavista" regime, which continues to oversee a complete collapse of the economy and the rule of law in an oil-rich nation once described by delusional liberal economic writers as an "economic miracle," but which now features forced labor, starvation, triple-digit inflation, extreme scarcity of basic household goods, and frequent political violence.

Among the recently arrested activists is Yon Goiceochea, a former student activist who in the previous decade was a leader in the movement which stopped former President Hugo Chavez from altering the constitution to further consolidate power in the presidency.

At the height of the protests in late 2007, Goiceochea was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, "This is not a war of left and right," adding, "We believe that Venezuela has to have democracy. Democracy means respect. Democracy means free expression. Democracy means saying what you want without repression."

Goicoechea, who was awarded the Cato Institute's 2008 Miltion Friedman Prize, was accused by the government of "possessing detonating cords for explosive devices," according to Bloomberg. In a nationally televised address, Diosdado Cabello — called the "Frank Underwood of Venezuela" by The Atlantic and the Venezuela's "No. 2 official" by The Wall Street Journal — cited the cash prize Goicoechea received from the Cato Institute as evidence that he was a paid agent of U.S. forces intent on stirring up a violent coup.

Ian Vazquez responds to Goicoechea's arrest on the Cato at Liberty blog:

This is an old trick of the Chavista regime—distract attention from the severe political, economic and social crisis that it has inflicted on the country. Venezuela's so-called Socialism of the 21st Century has produced shortages of everything from food and water, to medicine and electricity. Hunger is becoming widespread, the rate of violence is among the worst in the world, and the regime has become extremely unpopular. (We have commented on this downward spiral here, here, here, and here).

Yon won the Friedman Prize in 2008 for having led the student movement that played the central role in defeating the constitutional reform that would have given Hugo Chavez what at that time would have been an unprecedented concentration of political and economic power. One of Yon's and the student movement's central tenets is their advocacy of non-violence in the promotion of basic freedoms and democracy. Yon also offers an optimistic vision about the future and potential of his country (see his Friedman Prize acceptance speech here). That approach contrasts with the regime's constant reliance on repression and force and helps explain its appeal to most Venezuelans. For the same reason, the government's claim of terrorism on Yon's part lacks any credibility. The idea that the Friedman Prize is awarded so that the recipient carry out specific tasks is also risible. The prize is given "to an individual who has made a significant contribution to advance human freedom," and has no conditions attached to it whatsoever. It has been awarded to numerous freedom champions from around the world including prominent reformers and human rights and freedom of speech advocates.

If Maduro — who currently holds an approval rating of about 22 percent — is able to delay a referendum on his presidency past Jan. 10, he would be able to hand-pick his successor to finish the final two years of his presidential term, even if we were recalled. Venezuela's national election council has hinted at, but not committed to, holding a referendum in February.

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  1. Lessons learned = ?

    1. Citizens get what they vote for, good and hard.

      1. Or you know, don’t vote for but the ballot says what is says, but hey. Who ever heard of electoral fraud in failing socialist country?

      2. I don’t think Yon Goiceochea voted for this.

    2. America’s future, today?

      1. Sadly this.

      2. Betcha $4 billion you’re wrong.

        1. Take that in Zimbabwean dollars?

          1. In the dollars of the time the bet has ended. So if we have hyperinflation, I owe him $4 billion. If we have low to moderate inflation, he owes me $4 billion.

            Only fair, right?

    3. people never learn and keep voting for a command-economy and not a free market. people never learn and keep voting for control over freedom.

      biggest lesson is the 2nd amendment, because these same people will send you to the ovens

      1. ^This x 1000

        Don’t think it cant happen here. Clinton is already vowing to shut down media outlets she doesnt approve of. She claims ‘they have no right to exist’, betraying her pure Tonyesque view of rights. What other rights don’t people have, and what does she plan to do about that?

        Somebody quoted a gun grabber the other day that said “I am sick of hearing about their goddamned rights”. That is what Hillary said in a nutshell. Anyone who does anything that doesnt keep that bitch out of office is a fool shooting themselves in the dick. As bad as Trump is she is exponentially worse. The most dangerous person in politics today by a factor of 100.

  2. Look, do you want these people getting in the way of Democracy? I didn’t think so.

  3. Will Sean Penn be down there making arrests like so much Steven Segal?

    1. Maybe he’ll have a change of heart and use his capitalist wealth to bail out all the recent arrestees.

      Urp! Oook! balarrglapo!

  4. So instead of organized protests led by people the protestors trust they may get leaderless chaos? Awesome.

    1. That’s the idea. Then the dissenters look like the riotous and violent ones and the government seems more legitimate in suppressing them.

  5. Why arrest them once? I think it’s time for these wreckers to end up in a mass grave for daring to speak out against the revolution.

    1. Once it turns violent then the whole thing turns violent. Maduro knows this ends one way for him. He wants to delay the inevitable as long as he can.

      1. Marching people into fields to work at gunpoint isn’t violent?

        1. To say nothing of the crime rate.

        2. It’s not open warfare yet. There’s violence at the point of a gun, and then there’s violence once the guns start firing.

  6. Have they started digging the mass graves yet? Dashing babies against trees? Plowing slaves bodies into the fields where they fell?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if some of that hasn’t already started. I fully expect the press here to try and keep a lid on it.

  7. Diosdado Cabello ? called the “Frank Underwood of Venezuela” by The Atlantic and the Venezuela’s “No. 2 official” by The Wall Street Journal ? cited the cash prize Goicoechea received from the Cato Institute as evidence that he was a paid agent of U.S. forces intent on stirring up a violent coup.

    In the Kochtopus’s house are many rooms.

  8. Tooooooony!!!! Where arrrrrreeeee youuuuuuuuu?

    1. Don’t be hard on Tony… it’s Joe that has some ‘splaining to do.

    2. You selfish libertarians are just mad that equality has come to one place in our hemisphere!!1!11 eleventy!


      1. No, it’s ‘this is only happening because of American colonialism.’ Or, ‘this isn’t happening because of the socialism, it’s just coincidental that they happen to be socialist and totalitarian down there.’

  9. Joe from Lowell approves!

    1. Somehow our timestamps got crossed. You got mine and I got yours.


  10. “…once described by delusional liberal economic writers as an “economic miracle,””

    It IS a sort of an economic miracle; what system other than socialism can miraculously turn a prosperous state into a hell-hole in such a short time?
    Paging commie kid!

    1. Yeah, nobody said it was a GOOD miracle.

      1. “Its a miracle!”

        “Yeah, and it stinks on ice!”

    2. So a plague of locusts is now under the ‘miracle’ banner?


      1. a plague of locusts Socialists.

        1. They are much the same, except no locust ever expected a ruined farmer to thank him.

      2. As Terry Pratchett pointed out “Just because something is a miracle it doesn’t mean it has to be nice.”

  11. I hope that Salon article gets linked to over and over again. They deserve the embarrassment

    1. Something something oil prices. Something wreckers, kulaks and hoarders something something. Mumble, mumble, mumble.

      /Salon reader

      1. Don’t forget “Everything was fine during Chavez, Maduro was just not a fit successor.”

        1. Mmmnah, I like the NPR narrative, Maduro was perfectly fine, he just inherited a bad economy from Bush.

    2. Hah, how perfect that it’s Sirota.

      When a country goes socialist and it craters, it is laughed off as a harmless and forgettable cautionary tale about the perils of command economics.

      Someone should ask him if he’s laughing now.

      1. You know I read this line several times. Several times and there are some words sprinkled in there I have trouble with.

        Who laughs it off as harmless and forgettable? There’s one group of people that considers socialism “harmless” and its failures ‘forgettable” and I can tell you, it ain’t libertarians.

  12. A lot of these Venezuelans seem incredibly selfish. Why can’t they understand the value of equality?
    It’s not complicated. If everyone is poor then there is no one taking advantage of anyone else.


    And now for something unrelated: Balanced Rebellion .

    I haven’t been around in a while and if anyone else has already posted it, well, then, it’s already been posted.

  13. The people of Venezuela need that scumbag to get the Mussolini treatment, pronto.


    1. It wouldn’t do any good. Dozens of other people still work at Salon.

    2. It will be that or the Hitler way out. Either way it is inevitable.

      Was it Batista that ran away and was eating in a restaurant while in exile someone dropped a hand grenade in his lap?

      1. Meh, the Castro brothers are still alive, as is that Ortega asshole in Nicaragua (in fact I think he might be president or something). Don’t be so optimistic.

    3. When I went to the Valle de los Ca?dos, I noted that people still come there to spit on Franco’s grave.

  14. Any talk of a military coup? Probably they don’t have a George Washington nor can they reasonably believe that military rule that promises and delivers free elections would not result in a whole new crop of Maduro-like free stuff promisers.

    1. Any talk of a military coup?

      You realize that Chavez participated in a failed coup as the launch of his political career, right?

  15. This is an old trick of the Chavista regime?distract attention from the severe political, economic and social crisis that it has inflicted on the country.

    So, was this Yon guy a Russian hacker or something?

  16. The thing I find amazing about the useful idiots on the left is that their leaders talk and talk and talk about income ‘inequality’ yet when their leaders get into positions of power they do anything and everything to get their hands on as much of that filthy lucre as they can get. Yet the useful idiots turn a blind eye to such wanton greed. If they are forced to confront it, their response is that the other ‘side’ is worse.

    I’ve come to believe that the left is so obsessed with defeating the right that they will us any means and tolerant any evil as long as it gets them closer to that goal. It’s a group that is totally bereft of ethics or morality (which is why they hate Christianity so much). Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better because the left is getting bolder and now blatantly ignores the rule of law. They have no shame, no self awareness and no limit on their lust for power.

  17. Progressives in this country seem like they have no idea how close they are to sending this Republic down that slippery slope. At least they appear to be feigning ignorance.

  18. How quickly one runs out of other people’s money.

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