In Venezuela, Iris Varela, minister of prisons, a young lawyer with fiery eyes and incendiary speech, has warned that she has already prepared the cell in which Henrique Capriles will be imprisoned. I believe her unreservedly.
According to the minister's threat, the first step is to slap Capriles into jail because he asked for a vote recount. Who could possibly suspect a government that's so respectful of the law? Unforgivable.
I imagine that the next step will be to have another inmate kill Capriles in one of those frequent fights that occur in Ms. Varela's estate. It is well known that life is worth very little on the streets of Caracas, but in Venezuelan prisons it's worth absolutely nothing.
Why the harassment against Capriles and, in general, the other leaders of the Democratic Unity Roundtable? Very simple. In Venezuela, everyone - government and opposition - knows that Henrique Capriles won the election by a clear margin that was later brazenly eliminated by electronic manipulation, as some observers assume, or by the simple "grab" that represents the worst Latin American tradition, as others believe.
In any case, what's clear is that Nicolás Maduro, the Chavista candidate, lost. And he lost, among other reasons, because it is very difficult for the majority in any society to back a half-witted bumpkin who talks to the birds and campaigns with a bird's nest on his hat. The Venezuela spawned by the late Hugo Chávez is like a three-ring circus, true, but let's not get carried away.
The reaction of Varela, Diosdado Cabello, Adm. Diego Molero and the rest of the Chávez gang is that of a thief caught redhanded inside the house: He has to kill in order to escape. It wasn't his initial purpose, but he must commit a greater crime to cover up a smaller crime.
That is why Henrique Capriles and his staff canceled the march slated for April 17. They didn't want to give the government the opportunity to kill people on the streets, blame the opposition for the deaths and decree a state of social commotion that would serve as an excuse to eliminate the already scant constitutional protections that survive in the nation's battered legal system.
Capriles and his people feared what is known as "the Reichstag strategy." On Feb. 27, 1933, the German Parliament was destroyed by fire and Hitler, after accusing the communists without any proof and denouncing the Jews, asked for a suspension of the constitutional guarantees and demanded a decree that would allow him to govern as he saw fit. At that point, Nazism began its unstoppable march.
Capriles did well to renounce the phony audit the government might have conducted. A search for a thorough challenge of the vote is very unlikely to lead anywhere, but it could keep the protest going for a while longer. Already, some statistical analyses have clearly demonstrated fraud at the polls. Someone has to divulge what really happened.
It is possible, of course, that the thieves, caught in flagrante delicto and unable to kill, will try to negotiate a way out that may guarantee them both loot and life. According to journalist Rafael Poleo, who is always well informed, the man to mediate that deal is José Vicente Rangel, a former vice president and foreign minister under Chávez. I can't say, but Maduro's illegitimate government is hanging from a thread. So is Henrique Capriles' life.