Venezuela Launches ‘Bolivarian Fury’ Dissident Crackdown, Flouting Biden’s Sanctions Relief Deal

Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro ordered the activation on Tuesday of a security operation branded “Bolivarian Fury” to crack down on political dissidents, once again violating the terms of the oil and gas sanctions relief package brokered with U.S. President Joe Biden.

Biden agreed to relieve sanctions imposed during the administration of predecessor Donald Trump on the grounds that Maduro allow a “free and fair” presidential election in 2024.

Maduro claimed that the Bolivarian Fury crackdown plan seeks to “neutralize” foreign conspiracy plots allegedly attempting to generate “violent and seditious actions” against Venezuela’s socialist regime.

The announcement was made during an official event commemorating the 66th anniversary of the end of Marcos Pérez Jiménez’s dictatorship and Venezuela’s return to democracy on January 23, 1958. Maduro warned that, should something happen to him, the “Venezuelan people” would respond with the “Bolivarian Fury” plan.

“I am one of you and if someday the fascists do me any harm, any attack, I leave it in your hands to do what you have to do to restore justice and peace in Venezuela. Activate the Bolivarian Fury,” Maduro said.

Maduro “activated” the plan on Tuesday in response to the purported “discovery” of five conspiracies to allegedly kill Maduro and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López in 2023. Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced on Monday that 32 individuals had been arrested due to their alleged involvement in the plots against Maduro and Padrino López.

Maduro henchman Diosdado Cabello, who was present at Maduro’s event, said that now is the time for the “Bolivarian Fury’s counterattack.”

“Now it is our turn, now you are going to see how it is. It is the turn of the Bolivarian Fury’s counterattack and we are going to leave from [the city of] San Cristobal, joining historical dates from January 23 to February 4,” he ranted, “Dignity Day, to also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the arrival of our beloved Commander Hugo Chavez to the Presidency of the Republic.”

Cabello bizarrely added that the plan consisted of a “beautiful caravan … full of love.”

Several reports published on Tuesday indicated that the socialist regime kidnapped at least three of opposition presidential candidate María Corina Machado’s campaign administrators. Unknown assailants also reportedly vandalized at least ten of Machado’s campaign offices throughout the country.

“Ten physical headquarters where María Corina Machado’s campaign commands work, this morning, were absolutely violated,” Perkins Rocha, a member of Vente Venezuela’s executive board, said in a press conference. “This is simply a systematized campaign to move us away from a democratic electoral route that we have strongly initiated and will continue. This is not going to stop us, this continues.”

Vente Venezuela is Machado’s political party, the only mainstream right-of-center party in the country.

Opposition coalition presidential hopeful Maria Corina Machado speaks to supporters at a campaign event in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (Jesus Vargas/AP)

Additionally, the headquarters of other opposition parties and non-government organizations, radio stations, and other buildings were reportedly attacked. In most of the targeted locations, the words “Bolivarian Fury” were painted across with spray paint. Some of the attacks took place hours prior to Maduro’s announcement, while others occurred afterward.

Venezuela promised to hold a “free and fair” presidential election that presently does not have a set date, but is expected to occur sometime during the second half of 2024. 

Last year, the Maduro regime committed to holding the “free and fair” election in 2024 in a series of vague promises given during negotiations in Barbados between representatives of the socialist regime and representatives of the Venezuelan “opposition.”

In return for the election, the Biden administration awarded the rogue socialist regime in October with a generous oil and sanctions relief package that allows the state-owned PDVSA oil company to once again sell oil in United States and international markets, restoring the socialist regime’s main source of income.

President Joe Biden speaks about “Bidenomics” on August 15, 2023, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Scott Olson/Getty)

The Maduro regime banned Machado and Vente Venezuela from running for public office until 2030. Machado appealed the ban to the regime-controlled Supreme Justice Tribunal (TSJ) in December, but the top court has yet to issue a ruling on the appeal.

Machado held a rally on Tuesday to announce a new political coalition ahead of this year’s “free and fair” election. The rally was not able to reach Caracas’s Plaza Francia, its final destination, as the Maduro regime blocked access to it by organizing another pro-regime concentration in the same spot.

“Maduro talks a lot about elections, they talk about elections, but they are terrified of them because they know they have no votes and they hide behind threats and persecution, behind fabricated sentences with which they intend to annihilate or divert us,” Machado said during the rally. “But nobody will get us out of this electoral route. Whether Maduro wants it or not, we are going to force him to measure himself, set the date once and for all to this electoral process and we are going to measure ourselves as it is.”

Prior to the confirmation of the third kidnapping of a Vente Venezuela member, Machado held a press conference in which she urged the international community to help stop the Maduro regime’s latest crackdown and persecution scheme.

“In the last 24 hours, there are already two coordinators, command chiefs in two states, who have been kidnapped, who are missing thanks to the regime, and three other coordinators who are being persecuted,” Machado said.

“I want to tell the international community that we have to put a stop to this madness, because this is what the ‘Bolivarian Fury’ means: aggression, disappearances, persecution and, obviously, it reflects the fear of a regime to measure itself,” she said.

U.S. Department of State spokesman Matthew Miller said on Tuesday in a press statement that the United States is “deeply concerned” by Maduro’s latest crackdown wave, which goes against the terms of last year’s negotiations and agreements reached in Barbados.

“Actions that run counter to the spirit and the letter of the Barbados Agreement will have consequences,” the statement read. “We urge Maduro and his representatives to adhere to the electoral roadmap agreement, including by announcing a clear timeline for the 2024 presidential election, and to reinstate all political candidates.”

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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