How Maduro's Government Is Attacking Critics With Propaganda

PHOTO: During his inauguration on Friday, Nicolas Maduro wore a presidential sash and an armband with the colors of Venezuelas flag. Socialists in Venezuela, also use this armband in political events.

Nicolás Maduro was inaugurated as Venezuela's president on Friday, in a ceremony that was attended by more than a dozen heads of state.

The new Venezuelan president gave a two hour-long speech in which he talked about "deepening" Venezuela's socialist revolution and managing a government that will perform "miracles."

But Maduro is a pretty weak president. Much of the country is still wondering whether he actually won the election, as he was declared the winner by less than 300,000 votes. Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles still does not recognize Maduro's victory, and has obtained a promise from election officials that there will be an audit of Sunday's votes.

Faced with these challenges, Maduro and his new government, have gone on an aggressive, and sometimes surreal attack against their critics and against those who have put the election result in doubt. Here are some of the the most drastic actions that the Maduro government has taken thus far.

1. Depicting Critics as the National Enemy

Throughout this week Maduro portrayed opposition leaders, who were arguing for a vote recount as "fascists" who wanted to destabilize the country with the help of the U.S.

Maduro accused opposition leaders of masterminding attacks against at least a dozen health clinics, which were allegedly burnt down in what was supposed to be an effort to terrorize Venezuela's population. Some clinics where in fact approached by opposition supporters who suspected that the government was hiding ballot boxes in those sites. But in many cases local newspapers checked out the clinics which the goverment said had been burnt douwn and found that nothing had happened in those locations at all.

On Wednesday Twitter user @felixfarias01 took this picture of a health clinic in Caracas' Baruta district which seemed to be fine. The previous day government officilas had accused opposition supperters of destroying this building.

The government also blamed seven murders that apparently happened during post-election protest on Capriles, without waiting for investigations to be carried out. Maduro attended the funeral of one of these victims which was broadcast live on public TV. He gave a medal of honor to the dead man's family, and issued a vitriolic speech against Venezuela's "fascist bourgeoisie." In the meantime the state-run TV channel VTV ran this caption, which said that the deceased man "was a victim of Capriles' violence, and had six kids."

2. Repressing Protesters

More than 150 young people who participated in election protests were detained this week, according to Venezuelan Human Rights NGO Foro Penal. Venezuela's Attorney General threatened to prosecute these detainees for "instigation of hate," and "civil rebellion," crimes which carry hefty prison sentences, but said nothing about policemen who apparently shot tear gas canisters at protesters at point blank range. Seventeen protesters were released on Thursday, but many others are still in jail, as videos continue to criculate online of the Venezuelan National Guard's brutality against protesters earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Maduro himself threatened to use force against protesters who planned to march to downtown Caracas on Wednesday to demand a recount of votes. He accused the opposition of trying to use this march to incite violence and stage a coup.

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