The offensive these past few days by Maduro is a sight to behold. He is all out to destroy the opposition, either through his own threats or other means announced by his associates. But all of this ruckus cannot hide the crude reality: the legitimacy of the regime is falling, fast.
Opinion polls are down for chavismo. All coincide in saying that the popular vote in December mayoral election will go to the advantage of the opposition. The margin is not set yet, as it depends on the campaign, what happens next couple of months and the participation on election day. But all indicates that if the regime still should hold a majority of the town-halls it will lose in the largest districts and a majority of Venezuelan population will be under opposition Mayor rule.
Unfortunately for the regime there are no prospects for a quick reversal of fortunes. Even if oil were to reach suddenly astronomical values, short of paying directly in dollars the population the effect of the boom could only be felt after the vote. Losing the popular vote in local elections for a democracy is not a life threatening matters. There are presidents and prime ministers that dropped 10, 20%, that reached the 30% in polls only to be reelected anyway a year or two later. But in an authoritarian regime based on the crassest populism, a regime that holds all the media, that holds the judiciary system, where the opposition is neutered, where electoral fraud is the norm, "losing an election by a mere 5%" could be lethal. The more so that by refusing to even pretend to examine the justified fraud claims of April 2013 you implicitly admitted that these claims were not baseless and that the narrow result could go the other ways if votes were actually counted.
The regime has thus no other options but to tighten the screw, to diminish the opposition, to prepare electoral fraud and even to prepare the practical annulment of the coming unfavorable results that no amount of electoral fraud can hide in full. The flurry of the last days speaks for itself.
There is a concerned attack by the regime to silence the National Assembly. I am not talking here of the beatings that already took place and such assorted actions, I am talking here of the outright removal of a dozen opposition representatives that are going to be "investigated" and for which their legal immunity will be lifted, the one for free speech of a national representative, the cornerstone of representative democracy. The objective here is not only to turn the assembly into a rubber stamp, but to stop any discussion, even outside of the assembly quarters.
Opposition leaders not in the National Assembly must be silenced too. It can be done individually by accusing Capriles of coupmongering when he goes to Miami to conspire when in fact he went there to make it clear that a coup is not an option for Venezuela. Or you can demand a hitlerian enabling law to prosecute corruption cases which is a blunt way to jail any opposition leader that took by mistake a paper clip at the office.
Even the latest Syrian outburst of Maduro, when he went all out to defended Assad and accused Ban Ki-Moon of being an agent of the US at the UN has a purpose. Venezuela officially left the Inter American Court for Human Rights last week and already people are saying that we need to get used to present our human rights violations in other venues like the UN. What Maduro is doing is preparing the world to the notion that Venezuela is a rogue state, that his regime will not abide by any human right tribunal anywhere. Just like Cuba does.
Small details are not forgotten. For example there is now a mandatory broadcast on ALL TV, and ALL radio stations, simultaneously, of a "noticiero de la verdad", or if you prefer an Orwellian truth speak news broadcast of what is according to Maduro the truth of what is going on in Venezuela and the world. No right to reply will be offered, of course. Not that it matters because for all practical purposes there is very little and very tame criticism to the regime on the air waves now. And dwindling at that.
Finally, preparations are diligently done to make sure that the electoral results of next December do not matter. The law for communes is reinforced. Application of that law means that neighborhoods are organized in political units which in turn are federated in larger communes. Thus the government will provide DIRECTLY to these communes projects, as approved by "el pueblo". On paper it sounds good and democratic. Except that there are two flaws in the system. The basic communes decision making is an open vote, thus subject DIRECTLY to political scrutiny from political chavista commissars. And if that were not enough, communes formed in opposition districts simply are not legalized by the government, only communes that are approved by the PSUV are registered. Apartheid. Thus if a city if won by the opposition next December, the chavista voting parts will be taken out of the jurisdiction by the regime through a "communal" manipulation, while retaining the forced municipal funds. Soon democratically elected opposition districts will simply be left without resources.
We are already under a dictatorship. But there is very, very thin red line to cross to make this one a repressive and even bloody one. By threatening to cross that line Maduro is only demonstrating that he lost the legitimacy battle and that violent repression is his last resource to remain in office.