Latin Lefty Meltdown
If You Can’t Feed Em, Jail Em

It’s a hard knocks life for the hungry citizens of Venezuela, and a the latest stories coming out of the economically ravaged country shows that things are getting even worse. President Nicolas Maduro’s flailing attempts at keeping Chavismo on course have already resulted in food and medicine shortages, power outages, and a mandatory two day work week.

The Washington Post has the details on the latest turn:

In a country with one of the world’s highest homicide rates, and where carjackings, muggings and kidnappings often go unpunished, the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained at least 9,400 people this year for allegedly breaking laws against hoarding, reselling goods or attempting to stand in line outside normal store hours, according to the Venezuelan human rights organization Movimiento Vinotinto. Many were taken into custody by the Venezuelan troops assigned to police the checkout aisles and the long lines snaking into supermarkets.

According to the Caracas based human rights group Provea, the Venezuelan national guard has gone as far as rounding up the accused, whom they call bachaqueros—a species of ant capable of carrying many times it’s weight—on the “Dracula Bus,” which transports them to detention centers where they will potentially spend months waiting for a hearing. In some cities, the so-called bachaqueros are spared a trip to the Food Gulags and perform community service instead, but according to Provea activists, it’s all done without much recourse to due process.

The crackdown, at least for the moment, appears to be grinding down the opposition. Reuters:

The election board said a meeting to organize the next stage of the referendum process – the collection of 20 percent of voter signatures, or about 4 million – was postponed to Monday because of “threats” to the institution.

That was a reference to the opposition’s latest street rallies on Friday to protest foot-dragging by the election board, which it accuses of bias. Despite a Sept. 1 march that drew an estimated 1 million people, only hundreds turned up on Friday due to a mixture of fatigue, apathy and the need to stand in line for food. […]

“The situation is intolerable. I’m sick of lines, I can’t find food or medicines,” homemaker Edelmira Flores, 59, said as she waved a banner in a Caracas square on Friday.

One of the opposition coalition’s parties, Justice First, said five of its activists had been arrested overnight in Zulia and Anzoategui states, amid what activists say is a wave of repression by the Maduro government.

Stein’s Law states that something that can’t go on forever, won’t. At the same time, it’s never a good idea to underestimate the resilience of an incumbent authoritarian regime with control over a deeply-entrenched repression apparatus. Venezuela may still have a long and ugly road ahead of it.

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