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The Brutal Truths Of Maduro's 'Last Stand' In Venezuela

Venezuela's authoritarian leader is tightening the screws on his armed forces, the former regime bulwark now suspected as a seedbed of sedition, in a national setting of economic desperation and political despair.

Anti-Maduro protest in Caracas, Venezuela on July 5
Anti-Maduro protest in Caracas, Venezuela on July 5


BOGOTÁ — The bad news continues arriving from Venezuela. A recent article in The New York Times described how the socialist regime of President Nicolás Maduro is using brutal new practices to keep the 160,000-member armed forces under control. Paradoxically, the dismal economic management and vast bureaucratization that have brought the country to this point are now forcing Maduro to betray the soldiers on whose back the regime's founder, the late Hugo Chávez, built his vision of a new Venezuela. The ultimate lesson is that hunger is unyielding, and has made the need for a power transition in our neighbor even more urgent. Yet the government's talks with parliamentary opponents appear to have stagnated nor can one see an immediate way out of the tragedy.

One case mentioned in the Times article is that of Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo, previously cited by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. Acosta was buried on July 10, three weeks after his death, against the wishes of his spouse and amid tight state security. The five relatives allowed to attend the burial could not see him, the U.S. daily stated, as the body was wrapped in plastic. Leaked information from an autopsy indicated that Acosta had been subject to beatings and electrocution.

The regime is paranoid, and with good reason.

The Maduro government"s official response on this and similar cases has been to admit to abuses being committed by members of the military, but insist there is no systematic program of torture for opponents and rebel soldiers. Yet signs suggest that Maduro has in fact allowed the use of such methods to prevent any potential uprising from within the military.

Maduro, not going anywhere — Photo: OEA - OAS

Weeks ago we discussed in this space Bachelet's report to the UN and reached a similar conclusion to that of The New York Times. The High Commissioner had concluded that electrocution, beatings, suffocation and even sexual violence were tactics being used against prisoners who are deprived of due process and, in many cases, face baseless charges.

The regime is paranoid, and with good reason. The government has thwarted several plans to kill Maduro, even if the regime has always said it would not resort to inhumane or shameful treatments. That promise, we can see, has been broken.

This is one more reason why Maduro should step down.

At the end of the day, it is about the economy. U.S. sanctions are exacerbating a financial crisis that has had the worst effects on Venezuelans. And while Maduro has sought to keep soldiers close through his bureaucratic apparatus, the state seems to have run out of manna for so many people, and relatives of the military rank-and-file have joined the ranks of the suffering masses.

This is one more reason why Maduro should step down. With no immediate solution in sight, Colombia has been insisting on the diplomatic blockade, internal talks and the regime's own collapse. We too think this is the only viable strategy, even as the agonizing dictatorship keeps taking a toll. Until then, Venezuela will remain in a dismal state.

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Should Christians Be Scared Of Horror Movies?

Horror films have a complicated and rich history with christian themes and influences, but how healthy is it for audiences watching?

Should Christians Be Scared Of Horror Movies?

"The Nun II" was released on Sept. 2023.

Joseph Holmes

“The Nun II” has little to show for itself except for its repetitive jump scares — but could it also be a danger to your soul?

Christians have a complicated relationship with the horror genre. On the one hand, horror movies are one of the few types of Hollywood films that unapologetically treat Christianity (particularly Catholicism) as good.

“The Exorcist” remains one of the most successful and acclaimed movies of all time. More recently, “The Conjuring” franchise — about a wholesome husband and wife duo who fight demons for the Catholic Church in the 1970s and related spinoffs about the monsters they’ve fought — has more reverent references to Jesus than almost any movie I can think of in recent memory (even more than many faith-based films).

The Catholic film critic Deacon Steven Greydanus once mentioned that one of the few places where you can find substantial positive Catholic representation was inhorror films.

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