Now that Venezuela’s socialist government has morphed into what critics call a dictatorship, the regime is out to arrest its political opponents. One of those targeted - Gustavo Marcano - slipped out of Venezuela days ago and is now in South Florida.
Marcano is mayor of the eastern Venezuelan city of Lechería. Like most places in Venezuela this year, Lechería has been the site of large and angry anti-government protests in response to the country’s economic collapse. Marcano belongs to the political opposition in Venezuela - and because he didn’t move to stop those protests, the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro recently ordered his arrest. In fact, it summarily convicted and sentenced Marcano to 15 months in prison.
“I received death threats from pro-government thugs,” Marcano told WLRN after speaking to the media Wednesday at the Aloft Hotel in Doral. “Some of them even picketed my house and threatened my children.”
Marcano and his family took a clandestine route out of Venezuela last week and came to Doral. He is one of more than 20 opposition officials the Maduro regime is now hunting down since giving itself dictatorial powers this week via a new - and constitutionally illegal - national assembly.
“It is without a doubt a dictatorship now,” said Marcano. “It is determined to stay in power forever at any cost.”
Marcano plans to travel to Washington and lobby the Organization of American States and the White House to keep pressuring Maduro. On Wednesday the Trump administration slapped financial sanctions on eight more top Venezuelan officials.