The two men, Carlos Baron and Ricardo Prieto, created this short smartphone-quality video as a way to criticize Maduro’s socialist-educed recession.
However, seeing no humor in the clips whatsoever, a military counterintelligence unit named DGCIM took the two citizens away, allegedly for simply speaking out against the government in a lighthearted video, playing on the nickname “Maburro” that comes from the Spanish word “burro,” meaning donkey.
“Good evening comrades, as you can see we are receiving the visit of President Maduro. He is doing an inspection,” the narrator says as a donkey walks through a fire station. “He is indicating that the grass is good – that is the only good thing we have here at the station.”
It is unclear whether the arrests happened on Wednesday or Thursday, but both firemen have been taken to an unknown location and cannot be contacted by journalists.
“We know the DGCIM took them away, but we do not know where they are.” Mary Isabel Rodriguez, Espacio Publico
Venezuela has been experiencing a horrific recession over the past five years. Shortages of food and medicine, mass migration, and a rampant devaluation of the national currency have all contributed to Maduro’s unpopularity. It isn’t surprising that citizens would want to criticize the leader of this once-oil rich nation.
However, many people including his political opponents claim that Maduro has transformed into a dictator, but silencing dissent is par for the course when facing a U.S.-backed uprising, says the President, shifting the blame away from his failed policies.
But of course, there always must be something getting in the way of utopia, say socialists. It has nothing to do with Socialism itself, but foreign adversaries trying to stop socialist paradise.
But does that really make sense, given a 100-year history of failed socialist and communist states? At what point will they throw in the towel and admit that socialism is the problem, not everybody else? Not to mention, if socialism is so fragile, what makes it a viable option for the future?
One of the most effective ways of silencing dissent lately has been going after “hate speech,” a vague and undefinable term largely devoid of meaning. Last year, Maduro-backed Venezuelan lawmakers passed a law against “spreading hate,” which has been used to silence dissenting voices and carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
“The time has come, through a broad political process of awareness-raising, to punish the crimes of hate and intolerance, in all their forms of expression, and to put an end to them definitively,” says the socialist dictator as he presented the bill in August 2017.
Naturally, this tactic is not isolated to Venezuela. Many European and American lawmakers, as well as large tech giants, have attempted to use the term “hate speech” to silence views they do not like, such as the case of the widespread deplatforming of Alex Jones from the internet.
Believe it or not, the protection of free speech is one of the major driving forces behind the rise of populism, as far-left politicians around the world try to censor what you and I can say based on their subjective definition of what is or isn’t “hateful.”
It’s unclear what will happen to the Venezuelan firemen after committing the egregious thought crime of criticizing their dictator-in-chief, but now that the precedent is set, there is nothing stopping him from taking away individuals for any reason, at least until the people of Venezuela stand up and say no to tyranny.
Phillip Schneider is a student, runner, and lover of liberty and healthy living. A staff writer for the Waking Times since 2015, he also publishes to his own blog and is an occasional contributor to the Activist Post.