By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — Venezuela is suffering from all kind of crises: economic, political and social. It’s an irrefutable reality. It has been ever since Chavez triumphed in 1998 and took power in 1999, his project has been linked, for different reasons, to a very expensive and exhausting domestic war.
There are academic opinions about the need for revolutions, just like there is for economic crises. It’s said that, in spite of their destructive burden, they contribute to rearrangements after a subsequent development. It’s an idea that doesn’t lack all reason. However, from a standpoint of justice, rather than from basic animal instinct, it states that a political model is in actual fact positive if its social cost is minimal. That is to say, insignificant with regard to its achievements.
When we talk about peoples, about human beings!, we can’t just use simple statistics. And depending on the population of every individual country, 5% could be 100,000 persons, but there are some where this would be 2 million or even 60 million. Sometimes, minorities aren’t such a small group as they might seem to be and injustices against them hide behind indifferent statistics. Just like what happened in Cuba, the Chavista revolution has divided his people and injustices which are irreconcilable with the most basic of human rights hide behind the optimistic figures the government reveals.
We can’t deny the fact that the Fifth Republic Movement was conceived as a progressive, democratic, inclusive and encouraging project despite all of the negative forecasts from detractors of any attempts aimed at making the world a little fairer. Likewise, we can’t deny the adverse result of being in power for almost two decades and the tyrannical offspring that this beautiful project evolved into. Whoever denies these things is imperatively refusing to recognize one of the most important foundations of democracy: popular wisdom.
It’s very wise to vehemently believe in popular wisdom. Just as it is to be cautious and to watch out for phonies who joke about it sometimes and also know that this can only manifest itself once there is a democracy and correct the problem. The Venezuelan people overwhelmingly supported Chavism, while Chavism still represented hope for better days, at least on a social level. The investment in the health and education sectors won over loyal supporters.
However just like Fidelism, Chavism didn’t get the economics side of it right, as it concentrated its projects around utopian and headstrong visions, far removed from the real motor of monetary and trade efficiency.
From early on, it became obvious that they would fail in the economy and that they were heading towards militarizing the state. That they would stand in the way of separating powers and would increasingly polarize the country. That emigration would exponentially increase and they would spend exaggerated resources on foreign policy.
It was also clear early on that they would create an environment of domestic war by stigmatizing and undermining vital sectors in society, which in spite of being small in number play a decisive role. All of this in lockstep with the progress of social issues, at least statistically speaking. It was obvious at the time that just the higher oil price would make any project sustainable and they were really lucky that this lasted almost a decade for them.
However, the Venezuelan people, who are wise, still with caution, continued to support Chavism. Partly because they didn’t have and still don’t have (in my opinion) an alternative that is worthwhile. However, when Chavez tried to institutionalize “socialism”, the Venezuelan people foresaw a legal trap and said “NO”.
The opposition, on the other hand, dragging the discredit of the poor pre-Chavez government and troubled by Chavez’s popular support, was helpless and started “kicking in vain like a drowning person”. And instead of reformulating its political model and defending democracy with good actions, they decided to stage a military coup back in 2002. After every clumsy attempt, Chavez came out even more triumphant, as well as receiving non-stop praise and support from Fidel Castro and the Cuban tyrannical-socialist system.
However, we have arrived at the present, where it’s obvious that Chavism is no longer sustainable. After the drop in oil prices (which still continues to be high, but not as much as beforehand), the state’s coffers dried up and the giveaways that favored their vote fell and the apparent balance within Venezuela’s economic management ended. The “partners” who benefited mainly with the foreign oil policy, decreased: only small States remained, which were easier to keep their support for so that in the end, their vote weighs the same as that of any large country in international organizations.
It’s been a year and a half now since the Venezuelan people withdrew their majority support for Chavism, in exercising their sovereignty. Tired of shortages and social polarization, they chose a mainly opposition-filled Parliament. It was rather a punishment vote for Chavism than any real support for the opposition political project, which continues to be the same in essence.
And ever since then, Maduro’s government, which violated the Constitution with its birth (elections weren’t called after 30 days when Chavez didn’t present himself on January 15th and they waited until April, an allegorical date for military coups), in a pure panic attack, radicalizing themselves to the point of becoming a tyranny.
The government doesn’t recognize the Parliament and doesn’t sign its laws. Brandishing the anti-democratic and dangerious civilian-military union as its foundation. It fights and offends the rest of the world of they try to question or even give their opinion about the Venezuelan crisis. It refused the Venezuelan people’s right to a recall referendum with tricks and has combined the remaining four powers in reality, in a plain anti-constitutional and anti-democratic act against the Assembly. It’s worth highlighting that a legislature is the most democratic and representative body of sovereign power, among the five powers that exist in Venezuela.
The truth is that Maduro is afraid of a popular vote and even of the Chavista Constitution, which was conceived to govern a democracy and not a dictatorship. After a failed attempt to deliver a blow to popular democracy and void the Assembly via a plot with the Legal Power, a wave of protests broke out on April 4th and it hasn’t stopped.
Clearly, the opposition has a greater base of popular support than Chavism does right now (taking into account polls and paying attention to the last general elections). However the truth is that within Chavism, there is a political fanaticism that is still predominant and that’s why their rallies seem more organized and large-scale.
Anti-Chavist rallies demand early elections which were denied last year. They are stopped in their tracks by repressive forces which lead to deaths and violent acts. This is how they discredit the opposition, who has a dirty track record in the recent past. This is how they try to justify arrests with indirect or alleged evidence and back political radicalization to the point of tyranny. On a diplomatic level, they blame the US Empire and Venezuelan oligarchies for everything, even their economic failures.
The Venezuelan crisis is really unfortunate and there is only one just and logical solution which is possible: let the sovereign population decide for themselves. If instead of arming militias who only bring about more deaths and instead of having a constituent assembly process to draft another constitution, which appears to be manipulative even before seeing it, Maduro were to call for elections which he owes the people, everything would end in heavenly peace. And if he is the bad or the good guy in the movie, let it be the Venezuelan people who decide.
Venezuela deserves to be able to decide its own future and to come out of this crisis it is currently experiencing. Who are those people who are standing in the way of a popular vote and trying to perpetuate themselves in power by even avoiding a referendum? Who is stopping the Venezuelan people in their fair right to protest, encouraging rage-filled reactions and impotence? Who wants to impose their ideas at the expense of social polarization, mass emigration, economic disaster, shortages and inflation?
All we need is a simple analysis to figure out that it is ironically the Chavistas themselves who are the main ones responsible for the above, who are fiercely rooted in power for a petty and unaffordable price.
These are the people responsible today for promoting violence in Venezuela, without caring about who did it before. Don’t let them call themselves socialists! As these tyrants disguised as sheep have thrown enough mud at this beautiful idea of justice and equality.
And not Bolivarian either! This wasn’t the Liberator Simon Bolivar’s attitude when he was stripped of his presidential title in Colombia by conspiring congressmen around his Vice-President: with a loyal Army and subordinates who advised him to take back control with arms, he respected democracy and withdrew himself humbly with his head held high.
Chavistas are lacking in this patriotic, moral and truly socialist and Bolivarian way. The name isn’t enough.