US Senator Marco Rubio began trolling the Maduro regime in Venezuela on February 24 with a photo of former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega.
His tweet shows Noriega holding a machete over his head and then a photo of Noriega after his surrender to US forces. Noriega, military leader of Panama from 1983 to 1989, was forced from power by a US invasion in 1989 after a series of abuses and threats against the US. Captured, he was flown to the US and indicted in Florida. He was imprisoned and eventually extradited to France and then back to Panama, where he died in 2017.
Rubio has been a passionate opponent of the Maduro regime. He tweeted on February 23 “The whole world saw the regime use security forces & gangs to injure & kill unarmed civilians. The whole world saw them set fire to 3 trucks carrying food & other humanitarian aid. They will soon realize just how badly they overplayed their hand today.”
After his Noriega tweet, he followed up with another tweet showing Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi who ruled Libya until his overthrow and death in 2011. The tweet of Noriega might have been critiqued because it involved a strongman who the US overthrew in Latin America. With many critics of US “regime change,” Rubio might have decided that Gaddafi’s example was better because he was overthrown by his own people.
However critics wondered about whether Libya was a good example, pointing out the brutal death of Gaddafi and suggesting that Libya has been a failed state since the US and European powers decided to aid the opposition in 2011.
Rubio followed up his Gaddafi tweet with one of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, who was president of Rumania from 1974 until his execution in 1989. Along with his wife Elena, he was executed by firing squad after a short trial. Rubio perhaps felt that this image was more appropriate since the Rumanian revolution in 1989 was carried out by its own people and with the support of the military. Some have suggested the Venezuelan military might decide to push Maduro out of office. Nicolás Maduro became president in 2013 after Hugo Chavez’s death. He has been critiqued for bringing economic ruin to the country and his authoritarian rule.
Venezuelan congress leader Juan Guaido declared himself president in late January and has garnered support around the world. On February 23 he sought to bring humanitarian aid into Venezuela and clashes have resulted in deaths. The regime supporters have attacked journalists.
Some argue that Rubio’s trolling has backfired, but he continues to post images of dead and deposed dictators, without comment. The comment is clear. The Maduro regime will end up like other regimes.