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A dream for Venezuela

By Aleksander Boyd

London 11 September 2004 – “The opposition has no plan,” that is the first sentence international onlookers utter when one comments upon Chavez' disastrous administration. The latter is invariably followed by “the opposition is composed by political dinosaurs that want to regain the lost clout to continue ignoring the parcel of disenfranchised.” Both maxims evidence firstly an irresponsible and widespread tendency to take comments -made in that respect by the official apparatus of Venezuela- unquestioningly and second it demonstrates a supine ignorance of the elements composing the opposition. But what / who is Venezuela's opposition? I will try to answer that question from my own political standpoint, which is diametrically opposed to Chavez or whatever he represents but equally opposed to the present leadership of the opposition.

The democratic veneer

Venezuela's current political system is coated by a democratic veneer that sort of provides the necessary credentials to the authoritarian revolution spearheaded by Chavez. Freedom of press, occurrence of elections and existence of dissenting political parties prop up, democratically, the Bolivarian project. Let us analyze however each and every one of the aforesaid aspects.

Freedom of the press; the country enjoys an industrialized-societies type of governmental stance vis-a-vis the press. Comparisons with other countries can easily be drawn on the basis of abundance of programmes critical to the incumbent administration with no other restrictions than those self imposed. The left constantly tries to make a point with regards to the abusive and disrespectful language used by journalists and TV regulars in Venezuela. However, having lived in America and Europe, I can responsibly say that the media in my country is no different from the British tabloids or Michael Moore in any respect.

Occurrence of elections; yes there are elections. Rigged? Unfair and under the ominous control of a totally subservient electoral entity? Indeed! Ergo the issue is not the occurrence but rather the form and the unconstitutional behaviour of those responsible to conduct them, for no person acquainted with our crisis can deny the obvious partisan character of the majority that controls the electoral board.

Existence of dissenting political parties; again one finds old operators vying for power and trying to realign themselves with the power that be. Here's where the problem stems from. An ever augmenting number of people, not politically identified with Chavez, feel utterly betrayed by the Democratic Coordinator (CD). Yours truly is nothing but one of them. This merits some thought for it has been demonstrated time and again that the current political opposition is absolutely useless at scoring points against chavismo. They don't represent us, nor do they consult us in matters of relevance. Every time a group, partiality or NGO raises its voice against the non-voted for leadership an avalanche of condemnation follows suit, branding the ever useful argument of unity. But all fairy tales have an end and such end has arrived. Hugo Chavez needs the opposition and equally the opposition needs him for the preservation and subsistence of both species. Hence it is only logic to affirm that the best strategy to keep the opposition on the leash is to covertly foster unity for unity, in this instance, means chaos, intrigue, internal disputes, retarded actions and lack of consensus and operative capacity. As a case study my own -risking of sounding pretentious here-. I chair an international NGO, which I founded with no other commitment than to positively contribute with my beloved nation. I have lobbied international entities such as Amnesty International, the EU commission, the FCO and others on my own initiative. So just to name a recent example, it came as a shock to learn that the EU commission was not going to send an electoral observation mission to Venezuela, which I needed to find out by calling my EU representative who very diligently forwarded me the official reasons for it. The old dinosaurs in Caracas never said anything of the sort!! Ergo under no circumstances can I feel represented by such a bunch of incompetents.

Where does that leave us?

The biggest obstacle that people like me find to enter Venezuelan politics is not Hugo Chavez, is the opposition that feels threatened by a new breed of people who preach by example. A famous Englishman once said that the biggest political enemies are those sitting in the backbenches. As such the first action that we need to tackle has to be to stage a 'coup' against the current leadership. The second step is to dismantle the CD and the third is to let our message known. Obviously we shall need the concourse of the media to attain rapidly said objective, however there are no guarantees that said help will materialize. From a merely strategic perspective, Hugo Chavez has succeeded over his adversaries for he has had to confront only one block, namely the CD. Should said block disappear, and become atomized into a myriad of groups each presenting different alternatives, it will be extremely difficult for chavismo to lead a victorious campaign in numerous fronts. A similar phenomenon is occurring within the revolutionary movement, as noted by diverging views posted in Aporrea. Thus decision-makers from both antagonistic factions are being undermined from the base by sectors that do no feel represented by their respective establishments. In the days of the Fourth Republic, when the duopoly AD-COPEI ran the show, all decisions -political and otherwise- were taken at the “cogollo” level [1]. Capitalizing on the sheer popular discontent that such exclusive practices represented, Hugo Chavez irrupted on the scene offering to extirpate said model and implant an inclusive one whereby decisions would be taken by popular consensus. Our fellow citizens from leftist, socialists and workers movements seem to feel as betrayed by their leadership as we do, and that levels the field laying the bases for a formidable opportunity to construct the democratic building in which we all want to live.

Lack of plans or lack of coverage?

When it comes to plans to reconstruct Venezuela, I beg to differ regarding the non-existence of them. Indeed there are programmes, much more coherent than the clumsy chavista attempt, what they lack is the appropriate coverage which leads to the next question. Why is the Venezuelan media wasting precious broadcasting time interviewing failed politicos? Supposing their role is the provision of information, what's the gain of emphasizing past and present failures pounding ad infinitum on every word the president utters? Would it be not better to espouse a proactive stance educating the people instead on alternatives to counteract the current chaos? I know of a plan that has the potential to take us out of the hole (there are more), is the one written by the fellows at Liderazgo y Vision, “Un Sueño para Venezuela.” Gerver Torres and collaborators have done a fantastic job at putting in comprehensible words a plan for the nation. Econometrics and other fancy themes have been translated into stupid proof jargon. Furthermore I remember that recently Torres made an invitation to Hugo Chavez to debate publicly about governing plans, alas the president did not even acknowledged said invitation. Too bad that he does not want to be derided by someone whose command of the subject trespasses his ignorance. Could it be that the media is also playing by the rules imposed by Chavez, i.e. to sustain the dinosaurs to impede the emergence of new people?

A new breed of politicians

That's what Venezuela needs, further the official battery is constantly bombarding those who pose the greatest threat, which in our case are Sumate and Primero Justicia. That Sumate received $ 54K from the NED? Yes, so bloody what? Hugo Chavez received $1.5 million from the Spanish Banco Bilbao Vizcaya after he won the presidential race. Chavez' receipt of foreign monies is explicitly forbidden in our legislation and should have been investigated and castigated accordingly. Conversely acceptance of foreign funds by NGOs is not, moreover I have invited the American advocates of the revolution to forward the article, provision, statute or legislation that renders illegal the acceptance of said funds by NGOs, still waiting Eva... Besides none of the members of Sumate is running for presidency, for the time being. Henrique Capriles Radonski was imprisoned on trumped up charges. Leopoldo Lopez is constantly under the revolution's loupe and so are others. Readers may wonder why and the answer is rather simple; for they represent a new breed of politicians that are not subject to blackmail owing to past deeds, much to the detriment of the dinosaurs of the CD and Hugo Chavez' apparatus. The same rationale applies to me, even though by no stretch I belong in the same league. My activities have been scrutinized and condemned by the troop of international leftist prostitutes at the service of the regime accusing me of neocon, fascist, coup cheerleader, CIA op and a long list of unpleasantries. Nonetheless it is a gratifying experience to tell them “bring out the proof,” which I have done to expose them. The regime has much more things in common with the past and the CD than what meets the eye and for the same reason is bound to crumble.

To conclude I would like to respectfully request individuals that observe our crisis from the distance to practice the following rules, before condemning those of us who want to see the end of chavismo:

1) Do not take whatever Hugo Chavez and his representatives say at face value.

2) Do not compartmentalize those of us who oppose him with the CD or the previous establishment for we are creatures of a different breed.

3) Approach the subject with respect, humility and an open mind. The issue is not some Animal Farm revolt but rather a crisis deeply affecting the lives of 25 million people who deserve better.

4) Question, with base, both sides of the political divide.

5) Allow for diverging views to be equally exposed and commented upon. There are plans, even I have one!!

6) Sharing the dream is always better than conniving the nightmare.

[1] Cogollo: a system whereby the leadership of political parties in unilateral and based-unadvised fashion took decisions.

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