CARACAS -- Embattled Venezuelan head of state Nicolas Maduro threatened Tuesday afternoon to shut down "all forms of air and sea communication" with three close-by islands in the Dutch Caribbean and two major cities on the Colombian side of the border, saying subsidized Venezuelan foodstuffs are being "smuggled" to those destinations.
"I have been thinking about shutting down all forms of communication with Aruba, Bonaire and Curazao, because the level of smuggling towards there is just terrible. I have a lilttle surprise prepared but I can't tell it just yet", Maduro said during a televised speech. He later broaden the threat to include the border across from Colombian cities Maicao (bordering with oil-rich Zulia state) and Cucuta (across the line from Tachira state).
"By sea and by air, the mafias take all of the (cooking) oil, the tires, the shampoo and the food," Maduro explained.
In 2015 Maduro shut down the border with Colombia for several months, after several Venezuelan soldiers were killed in a shootout.
Maduro was nowhere to be seen Monday, as several parts of Venezuela, including the capital city of Caracas, experienced a six hour blackout that shut down the city's subway system and affected the country's largest international airport.
Also during the speech Maduro said three elections this year were the proof Venezuela was not a dictatorship, even if alleged fraud in all those elections are the reason cited by the United States, Canada and other superpopwers in imposing widespread sanctions on the Maduro administration and present and former officials.
"They say I am a dictator and the United States says the sanctions will be suspended when democracy is restored...It's a ferocious attack by the United States, which has decided to qualify Venezuela as a dictatorship," Maduro said, visibly angered. "I say that, beyond the qualification and the messages, here is a people that is facing its share of problems in Venezuela, which has had a world record of three consecutive elections. Democracy, freedom and popular victory".
In left-wing Latin American parlance "victoria popular", popular victory, is any win, including those by fraud or violence ("victoria popular en el combate"). According to that ideology, a "popular victory" has more legitimacy, even by fraud or violence, than a right-wing win that didn't resort to trickery or violence.