By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — Bolivar’s and Briceño’s decision to start a war to the death between the United States and Spain continues to be questionable. History, which is always told by the victors, absolved them because the “light” of their actions was immensely greater than the “darkness” of their misdeeds.
Today, as though the past had returned like a boomerang, it would again seem that Venezuelans see no other way forward but intolerance. The adversaries, though brothers, are quite different: Chavistas and the opposition.
Where there is no respect for the “rights of others,” there is no peace. When such a respect cannot be secured through conventional channels, violence enters the scene. When violence doesn’t frighten people into adopting sound judgment, hatred flourishes and low passions are awakened. This is the situation faced by Venezuela today, on the brink of a civil war.
How absurd is this war among brothers! Venezuela belongs to all Venezuelans and there’s room enough for everyone. If we analyze the situation carefully, we see that both sides want the same thing, save for trivial differences. They have more things in common than they do against one another.
Heightened mistrust and inflamed political passions make peace difficult to achieve. Chavistas fear that the opposition will destroy their legacy and the opposition fears the Chavistas will become radicalized and adopt a totalitarian form of socialism.
Is there no way out of this? Of course there is. The key is to look for a balance through constructive and sincere dialogue. The international community, particularly UNASUR and CELAC, must encourage such dialogue.
Each side must inspire confidence in the other and bring down tempers a bit, for the good of the country. It’s a crime that Venezuela should head down a road that leads only to self-annihilation.
In politics, it’s normal for a party or coalition to win or lose a parliamentary majority. The same is true of a country’s presidency. This is healthy for democracy, for it indicates that the people are the ones deciding.
There’s no reason for panic. If we take a look at the current political panorama worldwide, we can see that many of the parliaments of democratically elected governments are dominated by the opposition.
Chavistas got used to governing with an overwhelming majority and forgot that other political forces have as much a right to earn the people’s trust for themselves. If they wanted to retain all that power, they were obliged to conserve that trust through good governance.
The other path, that of converting their government into a totalitarian dictatorship with the support of the army, they should not even consider that! It would be like imitating Pinochet, in form, and Fidel, in their pursuit of utopia. Something like this would irreparably damage the image of this new socialism in the eyes of those who still see it as a hope for emancipation. Hugo Chavez was an active socialist-revolutionary but at the same time a fervent democrat.
This is the great danger that frightens the opposition; that Venezuela should end up losing its democratic system. After more than fifteen years removed from power, they are now celebrating their victory licentiously.
They started out by defying the Supreme Court and only decided to abide by its suspension of three legislators under threat that the Court would nullify any National Assembly votes.
The opposition forgets that the votes they secured were aimed at punishing the Chavistas and not exactly a show of confidence towards them. To put an end to this war would be the best political capital they could turn to. The people voted for something new, not for more hatred or more violence. At this important historical turning point, those who show the greater degree of sense and promote peace will be the heroes. Those who stir up hatred and incite people to war, on the other hand, are doomed.
Chavistas must respect the will of the people and cooperate in the just effort to review Venezuela’s democratic institutions. At the same time, they must also avail themselves of this defeat to improve their strategy and defend their government.
It is dangerous for one political force to be in control of the army, as the PSUV is through the so-called “civil-military alliance.” The army must once again be neutral. The political machinations seen on both ends also don’t look at all good and only convey signs of weakness. To face up to defeat like something normal and to not aim to be the sole force capable of defending the people’s interests is the most sensible and productive road.
Neither Ramos nor Maduro should seek to imitate Bolivar by unleashing a “war to the death.” Civility and the spirit of democracy are the antidotes to hatred and intolerance. Let us hope good judgment will again return to this beautiful country and that Venezuela will not only be able to recover but also rise up with the heroic vitality that characterizes it.