A Venezuelan fireman has been arrested after publishing a video in which he greets a donkey as President Nicolas Maduro, a human rights organization said on Friday.
Ricardo Prieto was arrested by military counterintelligence officers after the video appeared on social media, Foro Penal director Alfredo Romero wrote on Twitter.
The video shows a woman dressed as a firefighter leading a donkey through a station in the western state of Merida.
A man filming this, believed to be Prieto, addresses the donkey as “President Maduro” and jokes about the head of state carrying out an inspection of the premises.
As the donkey stops in a yard to eat grass, the man quips that “it’s the only good thing we have here.”
Venezuelans are suffering from shortages of food and medicines as well as failing public services such as electricity, water and transport as the country struggles with recession and hyperinflation.
Maduro and his government have been widely criticized for mismanagement and blamed for the economic crisis that has spiraled out of control, with inflation predicted by the International Monetary Fund to reach one million percent this year.
The man in the video continues with his digs at Maduro, commenting on the donkey’s lack of activity, he says: “It seems we’re asking a lot of him.”
Maduro, who jokes that opponents call him “Maburro” — a contraction of his name and burro, the Spanish word for donkey — has been accused of clamping down unceremoniously on dissent.
Foro Penal claims the country has 234 political prisoners.
But even satire or mockery is now apparently a punishable offence, in more ways than one.
Limbania Ramirez, a public employee, said she and her family were forcibly ejected from their government-assigned home for sharing memes mocking Venezuela’s military in a WhatsApp group chat.