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Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Featured, Regions, The Americas | 4 comments

“We are on the right side of history”

andresAzp via Flickr

andresAzp via Flickr

Everyone is entitled to have an opinion. Whether left, right; socialist, capitalist; Democrat, Republican; liberal or conservative; that is a different story. However, having an opinion is a right. I have a political inclination; yet, I am in the first place a libertarian. I believe that men are rational individuals and therefore worthy of respect. Thus, acknowledging a man’s dignity is accepting their freedom to choose. I would need more than just a few pages to outline all the different reasons why I am opposed to the current government of Venezuela. Nonetheless, the foremost reason for my stand is that for the past fifteen years, the Venezuelan people have lived under the command of a government that has done nothing else but to cover its eyes and deny to its people what I think is a person’s most essential right: the right to express and choose for themselves.

Since 1999 when Hugo Chávez came to power, he devoted himself to what I consider is a suicidal mission: to implement a socialist “Bolivarian Revolution.” That is, to put into practice “popular democracy”, “equal distribution of revenues”, “autarky”, and an “end to political corruption”. Yet, what Chávez’s “motherland, socialism or death” quest actually accomplished was to terminate all private television channels, suppress free speech, give away free oil to autocratic regimes and achieve a remarkably poor status for the country in business competitiveness: Venezuela ranked 134th out of 148 countries in last year’s World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report. Chavez turned the state that used to be a beacon of prosperity in the region into Latin America’s most dangerous country, empty-out the shelves of the grocery stores throughout the nation; and the list just goes on and on. In other words, what Hugo Chávez did was to follow the Cuban model and impose a dictatorship in every sense of the word.

Hugo Chávez was a nightmare for Venezuela. Although he passed away from cancer last year, the seeds he planted in his country still carry his poison. Through electoral manipulation his party was able to stay in power; and even though now under the dictate of Nicolás Maduro, the current president, the government has kept on rotting more and more from the inside out.

There still is hope for the country, however. As Leopoldo López, the leader of one of the opposition groups in Venezuela, has said “We are on the right side of history.” There is no more room for governmental repression in society. People have been silenced for too long and are not going to allow this to happen any longer. Uttermost, Venezuelans are not going to sit and watch how their country goes on free-fall, while simultaneously their freedom to choose and to act as rational individuals is taken away from them by an almighty government. It was the generalized powerlessness caused by the people’s acute lack of freedom which made the support for the opposition group grow and materialize in the shape of peaceful protests held first by students and then by thousands of citizens all around the country which started on February 12. Yet, as a typical trait of any authoritarian regime, in absence of a response, the government is retaliating with bullets. Sadly as it is, the panorama does not look good as the abuses increase exponentially hour by hour.

The Venezuelan people are fighting for the noblest cause that exists: their freedom. However, they are in a situation of complete vulnerability although they are within the borders of their country, supposedly any local’s safe heaven. Yes, I am certain that sooner or later they will achieve their goals; nevertheless, the later both the international media and the international community react and impose pressure on the Venezuelan government, the more bloodshed there will be.

-Camila Ortiz de Zevallos

4 Comments

  1. Very one-sided analysis in my opinion. Though I don’t completely agree with Chavez, and know that his economic policies are completely unsustainable, I think he did something truly important, and that is bring the lower-classes into civil society. From now on, no government can ignore the plight of the poor. Even Capriles assured last elections that if he won he would try to improve Chavez’s social projects, not cancel them.
    Right now Venezuela shouldn’t pursue the idea of returning to the old democracy, because in that democracy there was no real freedom of speech, that is a luxury only high classes could enjoy. Venezuela should move forth into a new, more inclusive democracy. Without making moral judgements, Venezuelans should consider both the good and bad of Chavez’s legacy to make future decisions. But the solution will not be to erase all that Chavez did, that would be reactionary and impulsive, as any ideology that believes itself a 100% right is, by definition, wrong.

  2. Populism.The specific issue is that Chavez didn’t integrate the lower-classes into civil society, but merely used them through tactics of bread of circus (thanks to the petro-dollars) in order to legitimize his position. Real integration of the lower classes into society would entail the implementation of, bluntly said, real genuine policies whose purpose in existence is not confined to political ends.

  3. No, Chávez didn’t ban all private media. One channel didn’t have its license renewed after supporting the coup, but the vast majority of media in Venezuela is privately owned and therefore often critical of the government. Also, its hard to blame the government for empty supermarket shelves, when elites are hoarding, as was done in Chile in the lead up to Pinochet’s 1973 coup. Is the Bolivarian government perfect, no, but the interests of the people are far safer in the hands of Maduro than with elite usurpers like Lopez and Machado (who in any other country would be in far more serious trouble right now).

  4. Because blocking internet in the hot spots of the protests wasn’t censorship at all. Neither is blocking the import of news print for media to actually publish their newspapers. Neither is heavy intimidation of media, with threats of sanctions occurring on a regular basis, a notable example being the brief arrest of the network owner of Globovision for speech deemed offensive by Chavez.

    Concerning the empty supermarkets, instead of criticizing the elites of which the government officials are a part of (how else would Chavez’ daughter take internet selfies with hundred dollar american bills whose access is highly restricted by the gov’t), you might rather want to criticize the macroeconomic policies of the government which are actually responsible for the empty store shelves. Look for the root cause, not the symptom. Have you ever seen a stampede of literally thousands of people running towards the supermarket when they learn that there is chicken?

    The protests are legitimate displays of popular discontent with the current regime. These “elite usurpers” were/are the legitimate representatives of those protests. Their arrest is nothing short of political intimidation and a vast breach of the rule of law.

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