Inside the hell of ‘communist heaven’: Corpses dug up for jewellery, children jailed and a gangster regime that has looted billions. Read this searing dispatch from a Venezuela on the brink of revolution

Saturday, February 2, 2019
By Paul Martin

2 February 2019

Jose Moncon was on the way home from his school for the mentally disabled, clutching nothing more threatening than his colouring book, when a demonstration blocked the road ahead and forced him to take a detour.

Moments later, a police snatch squad coming the other way scooped him up and put him in prison for unspecified crimes against the state.

He is severely epileptic and has the mental age of a ten-year-old. But because Jose is 21 and classed as an adult, he shares an airless cell with 18 other adult men, many of them hardened criminals. As Venezuela is jostling for top spot in the world homicide league, there are plenty of those around here.

Jose’s mother Maria, 44, is distraught as I meet her outside the terrifying Soviet-style ‘Palace of Justice’ in Maracay, a garrison town 60 miles from the capital, Caracas. It is more than a week since her terrified son was taken and his lawyer says the police have no idea how to treat his epileptic fits.

With her is Rosanna Paz, another mother frantic with worry. Her daughter Ana Paula, 16, was returning from the gym when a snatch squad grabbed her off the street. A week on, Ana Paula is in jail, waiting to hear what crimes she is supposed to have committed.

‘She’s in her last year of high school. She’s never been in any sort of trouble,’ says Rosanna, who had been so proud when Ana Paula was chosen to organise this year’s school prom. Now she has a criminal record for life.

Human rights lawyers here call it ‘human hunting’. They know of more than 75 children aged between 12 and 16 who have been arrested in the past week alone, though there are thought to be many more.

They are a fraction of the total number of people detained for allegedly protesting against a brutal kleptocracy clinging ruthlessly to power as its authority, like its stolen wealth, crumbles by the day.

Most of the free world has finally decided it is time to topple Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. Yet a few unreconstructed neo-Trots, including much of Britain’s hard Left, still cling to the myth that Maduro’s narco-gangster regime is some sort of socialist utopia. Only yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn was calling for an end to all outside intervention. Venezuela, he said, simply needs ‘dialogue’.

As far as apologists like Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell are concerned, Jose and Ana Paula are not innocent children. They’re part of a huge CIA conspiracy orchestrated by Donald Trump and American oil suits. Throw away the key, comrades!

Yet things are changing here — and fast. In recent days, the U.S. and much of the free world have recognised the country’s new young opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as Venezuela’s legitimate interim head of state.

The U.S. — the main importer of Venezuelan oil — has now imposed a ban on all payments to the state-owned oil company, thus depriving the Maduro regime of 80 per cent of its income.

On top of that, the Bank of England is refusing to return £1 billion of gold bars currently in its vaults, saying Maduro is not their rightful owner. The dictator must now turn to the drug cartels for cash.

So might this be the end of this tragic country’s 20-year experiment with ‘Chavismo’, the bonkers socialist economics of Maduro’s late predecessor, Hugo Chavez?

The Rest…HERE

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