Nicolas Maduro is a terrible leader of a terrible regime, but assassination is never a good idea.

There was allegedly an assassination attempt on Maduro yesterday and, at first glance, you might wish it had been successful – after all he leads a regime which would rather see its people go hungry and its HIV patients have to resort to herbal juice remedies because there are no medicines available, than face the electorate in a free and fair election.

But this would be a mistake – for four reasons:


Assassinations and plots often fail and this one (if indeed it was actually one as opposed to a government stunt or a propane gas tank explosion) will give Maduro the excuse he wants for further crackdowns on freedom and further repression of his people. The same thing happened in Turkey when a foiled plot against Erdogan was used by him to virtually shut down civic society and give himself enormous new constitutional powers.


Even when they succeed they invariably lead to unforeseen consequences – usually disastrous ones:

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was widely despised, and regarded as hysterical and useless. But he did achieve one massive thing – his murder inadvertently launched the first world war and the death of 37 million people.

More recently the deaths of Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, both ghastly human beings, have led to nothing but more bloodshed in Libya and Iraq. The history of world leader assassinations is a very unhappy one in terms of outcomes, from Caesar onwards.


Once you accept that it is legitimate to assassinate very bad people, you inevitably open the debate on who to class as ‘very bad’ and this leads to the assassination of very good people too – Martin Luther King, Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi.


Assassination is murder. Pure and simple – and to commit murder puts you on the wrong side, whatever your motives. Your ends will not justify your means. You will have become your enemy.

No, sadly, however bad we think Maduro is (and we do) better to leave one of his own to remove him as peacefully as possible (think Mugabe ousted by Manangagwa – although the aftermath has not been acceptable, at least there was no blood-bath.).

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