By Alfredo Fernandez
HAVANA TIMES – “A man goes to Montecarlo casino, wins a million dollars, goes back to his hotel room where’s he staying, and kills himself.” This phrase was a compulsory exercise during a literary workshop, which I took in the early nineties. According to the workshop teacher, the suicide hid many of the conflicts that a human being experiences in their lifetime.
The strange combination of unexpected success, as well as a disastrous personal history, might have led the man to take his own life. He might have felt like Destiny was mocking him which, up until the moment he won the million dollars, had done nothing but scald him, who knows… Or maybe this man had everything in life except for the love of his life, who might have been mocking him by having other affairs.
The reality is that it is hard to find the curveball of life emotions this person had in their mind when they made this decision.
Today, the Venezuelan people somewhat remind me of the man at the Montecarlo casino, who decided to commit suicide after having so much of everything we long for. Never before has a country so rich in natural resources created so many outcasts like Nicolas Maduro’s government has in Venezuela. Today, every Latin American country is crammed with Venezuelan migrants who try to get by as best they can, while they are on the receiving end of an unprecedented wave of xenophobia within the region.
Conquered by former colonel Hugo Chavez at the ballots, on December 6, 1998, Venezuela had suffered serious problems of corruption, poverty and inequality, but it also offered opportunities for prosperity for whoever was willing to pay the price.
Making a typical populist gesture, Chavez promised to not be another president, but to reestablish the country, so when he was given the presidential sash, he swore on a “… dying Constitution.” Twenty-one years later, the Constitution isn’t the only thing dying now, the entire country is dying.
How will Venezuela steer back towards democracy? It’s a question that is practically impossible to answer today. Venezuela ended up being too much like Cuba, with an anti-democratic government which became deeply embedded in people’s everyday lives; today, there is nothing in a Venezuelan’s life that is separated from the State, just like in Cuba; Venezuelan citizens’ everyday lives have been subjected to the mafia holding power.
Here in Quito, where I’ve been living for nearly seven years, I’ve been living with Venezuelans who packed up their suitcases last January in the face of a smokescreen created by Juan Guaido (the president-elect by the National Assembly, without a drop of executive power as Maduro and Cabello hold it firmly in their grip), hoping that democracy would soon be returned in Venezuela.
Even so, many Venezuelans still believed that democracy after the Assembly’s appointed Guaido as president would be a matter of days (some even thought it would be a matter of hours), but as I read in an article written by Cuban historian Boris Gonzalez Arenas: “how hard it is to explain to people who haven’t lived these processes (like us Cubans), just how hard it is to free oneself from this kind of dictatorship.”
Many of Venezuelan friends thought that I was being a pessimist when I explained that it wouldn’t be as easy as it seemed; ten months have passed and (luckily) Guaido seems closer to remaining a lonely fool, that is if jail doesn’t await him, than it does that a democracy will be reestablished in Venezuela.
Until the Venezuelan opposition understands the destabilization work the Cuban government is doing within the region, which also depends on Venezuela, it won’t be able to outline an effective plan to help reestablish democracy in our sister country. Guaido’s “naiveness” led him to enter a dialogue with Maduro’s government, which is just about the same thing as letting Cuban intelligence bodies stick a rifle in his face.
In my opinion, Maria Corina Machado is the only person with their head firmly set on their shoulders in the Venezuelan opposition, who has truly understood the extent of things in this country.
Guaido was working with her right at the beginning and then he slowly distanced himself, following the advice of politicians who have led him to what he is today: somebody without any really chances of helping Venezuela come out of the abyss it finds itself in.
I repeat that what is happening in Nicaragua, Venezuela and even Ecuador and Chile today, has ties to Cuba, and those involved not understanding this is strong political short-sightedness, at the very least.