By Jorge Arreaza M.
It is already common that “Venezuela” turns into a commonplace in the different electoral campaign processes in Our America and beyond. The question coming from the most renowned journalists in mainstream media is simple: In your view, is Venezuela a dictatorship? But this story is not new. In 2004 in Venezuela, under the eyes of the world, a unique event in the political history of Latin America took place: Hugo Chavez, an elected President, during his tenure, subjected the exercise of his mandate to the people’s will in order to be ratified or not. This option is expressed in the country’s Constitution, which, furthermore, was proposed by President Chavez himself. These elections took place within the framework of an incessant and unyielding attack carried out by liberal capitalist political actors and the world’s hegemonic press, which rabidly ranted that in our country there existed a cruel dictatorship, the likes of no other in the region. The referendum resulted in que unquestionable victory of Comandante Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution and was ratified and endorsed, among others, by the biased OAS and the Carter Center, who had no other choice but to make reference to Venezuela’s electoral system as one of the best and most secure in the world. Eduardo Galeano, thinker and intellectual, accompanied this process as an observer and wrote these visionary words about it:
“Strange dictator this Hugo Chavez. Masochist and suicidal: he created a Constitution that allows the people to fire him, and he took the risk of that happening in a recall referendum that Venezuela has carried out for the first time in universal history.
“There was no punishment, and this became the eight election that Chavez has won in five years, with a transparency that Bush would have wished for any given day. Obedient to his own Constitution, Chavez accepted the referendum, promoted by the opposition, and placed his office at the disposal of the people: ‘You decide’.
“Until now, Presidents interrupted their tenure only because of death, military uprising, popular revolt or parliamentary decision. The referendum has inaugurated an unparalleled form of direct democracy. An extraordinary occurrence: How many Presidents of any country in the world would entertain doing it? And how many would still be President afterwards?”
The unending litany about the democratic quality of our country has not seized during two decades of elections. It is impossible to reconcile the “false flag” of the Venezuelan dictatorship with the real, palpable and verifiable fact that in the country twenty-five (25) elections have been carried out in twenty (20) years of Bolivarian Revolution, six (6) of which have been Presidential, four (4) parliamentary, five (5) for Governors, five (5) for Municipalities and Municipal Councils, two (2) for a Constituent Assembly and three (3) for National Referenda. If there was a dictatorship, how can it be explained that participation and social inclusion has increased given that over three thousand (3,000) Communes, over forty-seven thousand seven-hundred and forty-eight (47,748) Community Councils, seven-hundred and forty-one (741) community education nuclei, eight-hundred and sixty-six (866) Community Banks have been created, which in turn have promoted an active participation in communes and social movements with two million seven-hundred thousand (2,700,000) people in all of the country. How can it then be explained that a “dictatorship” has facilitated the democratization of culture by incorporating over a millions children and youth from the most humble sectors into the Venezuelan Orchestra and Choir System; how can it be explained that school enrollment has increased five times and that Venezuela has positioned itself as the fifth country in the world with the largest university enrollment.
Venezuelan society during the last decade of the 20th century began to see and feel the privatization of all services and was on the edge of seeing the total privatization and denial of all of its social rights: healthcare, education, social security. The Revolution stopped those processes and was able to avoid the takeover of people’s lives by the dictatorship of private capital. Today, that same society has seen those social rights being amply democratized, universalized, like never imagined before, and has become the protagonist of the rise of many others, a result of its organization and political protagonism.
But those are not the numbers that gain the attention of the hegemonic global system that carries itself under the parameters of balance of payments, economic growth and human exploitation.
It does not matter how many times the Venezuelan people express themselves politically at the ballot box and in the streets in the daily exercise of communal democracy. The blind eyes and deaf ears of world capitalism disregard the extraordinary discipline of a society that has not swallowed the bait of the internal war induced more by the provocations launched from all latitudes in the planet. Only one voice is valid for those that want to see the Venezuelan people on their knees, and it is the “truth” that emanates from the political and economic interests of the United States.
It should raise suspicion that often the “democracy thermometer” that pretends to be applied on Venezuela, lines up with the geopolitical or economic interests of world capitalism, often both at the same time. Therefore, having declared the “democratic incompetence” of its fellows, immediately they line up their war artillery against the “presumed suspects” subjecting them to any type of abuse that violates Public International Law with the greatest cynicism in the world. The actions carried out by the United States through military interventions, economic coercive unilateral sanctions and other contraptions of imperialist anger, placing such country at the margin of the planetary democracy.
If the United States has specialized in anything throughout its history, it is in its capacity to put an end to any democracy in any place where its interests are threatened. Latin America is the space most intervened in within its particular exercise of political projection. Since the beginning of the 21st century, when it knew it had sufficient military power to impose its weight and to apply the so-called “Roosevelt Corollary”, which was no other than the real possibility of enacting what had been expressed 74 years before by the Monroe Doctrine: “America for the Americans”. With the big stick policy and the use of the dollar as a mechanism for coercion, democracies and wills were taken down in Central America and the Caribbean. Later on, at the peak of the Cold War, they needed to give theoretical support to the dictatorial exercise in the region, so they created the infamous School of the Americas. There, the thugs and torturers that filled the region with horror and blood for at least two decades, were trained systematically, using manuals coming from the Vietnam War and the rest of the conflicts where it used to interfere with its invasion troops.
Some of the numbers of the most brutal dictatorships in South America shed light on what really constitutes a dictatorial regime. According to specialized studies, it is calculated that in Uruguay there were approximately eighteen (18) people processed by the military justice and thirty-one (31) political prisoners for every ten thousand (10,000) inhabitants. That is, for a country with a population close to three million inhabitants, there were eight thousand three hundred and seventy (8,370) political prisoners. In Argentina, according to some reports, it is estimated that there were thirty-five thousand (35,000) disappeared from the military dictatorship. Likewise, the cruel dictatorship of Pinochet in Chile resulted in nearly forty thousand (40,000) victims, of which three thousand and sixty-five (3,065) were killed or disappeared proving the existence of a systematic extermination policy against left-wing political opponents. The Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay, resulted in eighteen thousand seven-hundred and seventy-two (18,772) people tortured and one-hundred and seven thousand nine-hundred and eighty-seven (107,987) indirect victims. When we speak about the promotion of dictatorships, no one beats the United States and its machine.
It is surprising that our country is always in the political agenda of some neighboring governments that, shielded and propped by the anger of the United States, have invested time in deliberately violating issues that only concern Venezuelan sovereignty. Our doctrine has always been that of Our-American brotherhood. Since the profound ideals of the Liberator, Simon Bolivar, who visualized in the Jamaica Letter the necessity for the unity of our peoples as an indispensable requisite for the true liberty of the hemisphere. For us, Bolivarian thought is embodied in the essence of the democratic exercise and is translated into the constitutional text. We were and will continue to be a country that is a friend to people in need. We have always welcomed with open doors those that have been displaced by the numerous conflicts throughout the world, of those politically persecuted by the dictatorships promoted by the United States during the second half of the 20th century. In our country live numerous colonies that have never been affected by xenophobic hate campaigns such as the ones that today are being promoted by governments in other latitudes so close, that they bring shame to our common history. All the contrary, our spirit is based in the deepest roots of solidarity and in being good neighbors. Our democratic system may not resemble that of the United States, but we can assure without doubt, that its is our own and much more democratic than the other.
The imperialist interests of the United States intend to break the Venezuelan people and its sovereign decision to define its own economic, political, and social destiny. Through the published opinion, they try to cover the truth with the only purpose of looting our wealth once again, that wealth which the Bolivarian Revolution, with so much effort, restored to its people through a system of “just distribution of wealth”, as is well-stated in the 1999 Constitution. There are also voices, complicit with the national oligarchy, which have echoed irreflexively, in order to handover the peoples’ resources in a silver platter to U.S. imperialism. Yet the decisive and constant action of the people, the unbreakable will of President Nicolas Maduro, will lead us once again to unquestionable victories. No matter how much they hit us with sanctions and blockades, no matter how much they howl with the purpose of silencing the truth of our political democratic and inclusive exercise, we will continue onward with the firmness of always in order to preserve our independence, our sovereignty, and help the free nations of the world in the restitution of a democratic world system that overcomes once and for ever the anger and cynicism of the United States in its quest for taking over the world.
A humble suggestion for whoever see themselves subjected to the media inquisition using Venezuela as a distracting issue, do not give in to the blackmail, hold on to the respect for International Law, try to inform yourselves better about the reality of our new-type democracy and do not fall into the trap of the media dictatorship, which in turn responds and supports the fierce world dictatorship of capital. In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, we believe in political dialogue as the essence of the participatory and protagonistic democracy that we have given ourselves. Do not believe in fairy tales or let yourselves be derailed from the heart of your political proposals. The dilemma about the Venezuelan political system ends up being a trap for fools, very well elaborated in the CIA labs. In democracy, with our organized people, in Venezuela, we will defeat all aggression, all interference, and all intervention.