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The Fracas in Caracas
Venezuela’s President Scapegoats Colombian Immigrants

Facing a growing economic crisis, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has found a group to blame: illegal immigrants. The Wall Street Journal reports:

In recent days, Venezuela deported more than 1,000 Colombian citizens and closed key border crossings in the frontier state of Táchira, where Mr. Maduro declared martial law in several municipalities. The actions were allegedly aimed at cracking down on rampant smuggling of price-controlled Venezuelan goods into Colombia, a flow that aggravates shortages in Venezuela.[..]

“Who comes over from Colombia? It’s people practically without education,” Mr. Maduro said in a televised address last week. “I’m not offending Colombia, I’m just telling a truth…From Colombia, all of the poverty and misery is coming over with a people who are escaping for economic needs and fleeing war.”

And, of course, the crackdown comes complete with new, broad-based authorizations for warrantless searches and other, ah, useful governmental tools, like a prohibition of “unauthorized public assembly or protest.” All of this shows just bad a spot Maduro finds himself in as Venezuela’s crisis reaches a boiling point. While it’s true that Venezuelan goods do go to Colombia, the reasons why have much to do with the failures of Venezuela’s socialism, and the country’s problems are in any case about far, far more than immigration. Maduro’s attempt to scapegoat Colombians won’t change that.

But the anti-Colombian turn did also produce this moment of comedy:

Internet memes depicting Trump with Maduro’s bushy black mustache have swept social media. Others show Maduro donning Trump’s trademark blond comb-over.

Maduro brushes aside the comparisons with the American billionaire.

“They’re saying Maduro is like Donald Trump! Imagine,” he said during an hours-long television broadcast on Monday. “I don’t even have his hairstyle – and least of all his bank account.”

No, Mr. Maduro—that might be your predecessor’s daughter. Some have recently claimed that Hugo Chavez’s heiress has a net worth of $4.2B, or about the same as Donald Trump. (That report may not have been independently verified, but there is evidence going back that the Chavez clan has done quite well for itself—as most socialist leading families tend to do.)

Perhaps Maduro just needs a few more years on the job—if he can keep it.

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