By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — It was with great relief that I read the news about (former Uruguayan president) Jose Mujica’s condemning words to Venezuelan President Maduro. It was here on Havana Times that I was able to find this information on May 19.
I searched our media and Telesur in vain to see if they had at least a little bit of decency to communicate this important story. I found absolutely nothing. They’d ignored it completely.
I’m not sure what would be more interesting to analyze in this article, Mujica’s response or Cuban censorship of this news. Let’s start with Mujica. He is a distinguished leader of Uruguay’s political left and, we could also say, in the region. His casual manner for expressing his opinions has identified him since he became involved in formal politics and is part of the magic which led him to success.
I personally am a great admirer of Pepe Mujica. The more I hear and know about him, the more I sympathize with his ideas and his attitude. Now more than ever, because being a leftist, which I share, didn’t lead him to the chorus of “false collective opinions” that figures from this political standing tend to use.
You can be a leftist and a democrat; you can be a socialist and a democrat. Mujica acted as a representative of the democratic left. He is a man who has known how to adapt well with the times, combining a sharp vision and the sense of what is just in politics. He was a guerrillero when violence seemed to be the only option; he was imprisoned when his ideas made him break unjust laws; he was a formal politician when the conditions, which he had helped to bring about, arose.
Maduro is his friend, he has said so on many occasions, but he doesn’t approve of all his actions if these violate fundamental principles. Almagro (the current OAS secretary) was Mujica’s Foreign Minister and according to his own words, they didn’t see eye to eye all the time, but he recognises his commitment to the law and his integrity. It’s wrong to accuse a regional leader of being a CIA agent [as Maduro accused Amagro] without first presenting the facts; just because he is doing his job, which this time has Maduro himself as the likely lawbreaker. When this happened with Micheletti in Honduras, Hugo Chavez supported the OAS in a similar position.
Maduro’s attitude belittles the left and the socialist ideal. Euro-soviet and Asian models have already thrown a ton of mud on the socialist cause, turning progressive popular movements into leftist dictatorships. Once this period had been put behind us and after a period of neoliberal capitalist fundamentalism and severe economic crisis, the left won with renewed force in a lot of scenarios and began to talk about a different kind of socialism.
A socialism with democracy, markets, without a proletarian dictatorship and just as equally inclined to defend social matters. But populism swallowed up this idea, along with anti-capitalist discourse. It lacked realism and a concrete ideological base which told them how to get where they wanted to go and how it was different from the socialist dictatorships. Doing so would have rid us of our fear and eliminated mortal enemies, with a clear and pragmatic message that could have been part of a truly all-inclusive political model.
Today, storms are brewing and democratic socialists are suffering, as I am and I’m sure Mujica is too, and we have to prove that Maduro is wrong. Venezuelan socialists, or chavistas, feel stifled and aren’t thinking straight. Clearly, they’ve failed after a long time in office and they have no other option but to follow the legal route and, if this happens, leave power with their head held high and ready to learn from their mistakes, which includes never again staining the name of the left and socialism by displaying their tyrannical hold.
Maduro, the Venezuelan people and the rest of the world know well that Chavism has very little support at this time. It’ll be very difficult for them to win a referendum and it’s even less likely that they’ll win a new presidential term, even with Chavez’s daughter or son-in-law as candidates. They’ve lost a lot of prestige and credibility over the years and the opposition has taken full advantage of these political tools in their favor. This is the situation today and tomorrow Chavism can rebuild itself as a better and more viable project for its country. Now it’s time for them to leave for Venezuela’s own good if that’s what the people really want. And it’s even better for Chavism in the long run. The excesses of power distorted their ideology and the petrol boom led them to believe they’re all powerful.
Maduro should immediately cease military operations, which only create more expenditure in a country in crisis. The rhetoric that “the imperial enemy threatens us” has been used to death and is a tied noose around their own political neck. Who believes in US military involvement just because a right-wing fundamentalist like [former Colombian president] Uribe asks for it? It’s well known by now that this tactic is used to intimidate the opposition and as Telesur TV journalist Walter Martínez says, “show their guns”. Although I doubt Martinez would say it in this case, because of the mistaken trend that I mentioned at the beginning, because of the “false collective opinions”.
Maduro has two choices: put himself at the mercy of the Venezuelan people in a referendum, as the Constitution decrees, or attack Parliament with military means, dissolving it along with opposition parties and become a dictator like Pinochet did. There is no middle ground; everybody knows what is going on there and there’s no way to hide it: he doesn’t have the popular majority’s support and he’s trying to evade the law with subterfuge.
Mujica deserves a round of applause for being so honest and fair; for his ethics which go far beyond friendships and ideological agreements. If only all of the leaders of the democratic left their false and harmful camaraderie behind and took a critical stand against Chavism’s degenerate trend, which could take us all to our political graves. The left, socialism and the progressive cause will come up on top if instead of concubinage, they show their valuable principles, their democratic spirit and respect for the law as well as for what the people really want. If the right and the left have committed political sins in the past and today, that doesn’t justify us losing heart and committing them in the name of a cause which is seemingly fair. It’s never too late to make a difference.
In regard to hiding Mujica’s statements in the Cuban press and on the Venezuela based Telesur, this is a clear example of media manipulation, of selective discourse, to benefit a political power. It’s a global phenomenon and it’s something that we, who want a better world, criticize time and time again; but in Cuba this has been taken to its extreme for over five decades.
I would like to listen to the opinion on the subject from French journalist Ignacio Ramonet, who is a critic of these new problems in modern times, and also on Maduro’s attitude. I’d also like to hear from other intellectuals and politicians from the left. How good it would it be if Mujica wasn’t left alone standing up for the dignity and the principles of the real democratic socialists! That would be great progress, don’t you think?