Why I will be signing tomorrow to remove Hugo Chavez through a recall election.
Thursday 27 November 2003
It will be no surprise for anyone kind enough to read my words on occasion that tomorrow I will go to my Yaracuy voting station and sign up to ask for a recall election on the mandate of Hugo Chavez Frias, president of Venezuela since February 2 1999.
There is no need to restate the reasons why I am doing so. I have written enough on all the abuses, misrules, incompetence, corruption and what not of the Chavez administration. I have commented often of my fear that he is leading us toward some form of authoritarian regime, a regime that we have escaped so far, in my opinion, because Chavez did not close the media when he could have done so. Indeed today, the only institution left to protect us from an authoritarian regime is the press and the media. All the other institutions have been subverted and only the incompetence of their directors have saved us from further damage to our democracy.
I did write a series of summary articles the last two weeks. I could write more of such articles on education, trade unions, utilities, etc… but I trust that my point has come out loud and clear.
But the real reason that I want Chavez out is that he is an incompetent ruler. Perhaps a visionary, but a terrible, terrible manager. The only reason why he has gone so far is that he inherited a state that had lost faith in itself. Wherever he wants to lead us he will do so badly, blinded by the resentment he carries with him.
But in all fairness I must add the things that tomorrow I will not sign up for. I will not sign up for a return to the past, as such a return will only secure the return of a new Chavez. I will not sign up to restitute to the old elite their lost power. They lost it because they were incompetent and had no qualms using corruption to achieve their goals. I will not forgive them the tragedy of April 11, and the disaster of April 12, 2002. When their moment to shine came, they bestowed a half backed conspiracy on an unfit Carmona Estanga who had nothing better to offer than the stalest form of political coup that our continent has been so prolific with. And they all went to Miraflores to applaud as Carmona Estanga read a decree that made him an even worse autocrat than Chavez, dreamed to be. That blunder brought Chavez back for another two years of misery and ruin for our country. When justice will come I hope that the court benches will be shared equally between corrupt chavistas and unreconstructed anti-chavistas.
I will not be signing to see Accion Democratica, or any other ghost become again an electoral option. I will not sign for a country that still thinks that our oil is the solution to all of our problems. I will not sign to see electoral candidates lie to us promising what they full well know they will NEVER be able to provide. I do not want to go back to a past that has seen its worst avatar with the Chavez years.
In April 1999 I voted NO to the referendum asking for a constitutional assembly. Only 10% of cast votes were NO votes. The old opposition, in a fitting show of stupidity, called for abstention as if Chavez would care. I voted NO then because I knew that a country should not seek a new constitution because a leader says so, and wants to write it down himself. It never works, and this time was no exception. And I had been advocating for constitutional reform for years!
The 10% NO were perhaps no more than 4% of the electorate of the country. Never in my voting life was I in such a minority. Things have changed and that 4% was proven right.
I was in the very first manifestation that was called against Chavez, in Caracas, Chacaito square. A small gathering of perhaps up to 10 000 people that protested the planned intervention of private education by Chavez’s education ministry. I remember that night when Chavez ridiculed, scorned this first serious rally against his rule, a time when he could still call out at the drop of a hat hundred of thousands of faithful.
In October 2002 I marched with a million people to Avenida Bolivar, in the largest march to date in Latin American History. This change in two years, thanks to Chavez incompetence and in spite of the opposition ineptitude.
It has been a long road. We are a brave people and we have done it all on our own, misunderstood by most of the world except for Spain and Colombia, our mother country and our sister country.
Tomorrow we will stamp our name on a document that will forfeit our right to secrecy when voting. If we do not collect enough signatures, or if we lose the recall election, or if Chavez manages to void the referendum, then he will have the database to block us who signed, to deny us as many a civilian right he will be able to deny us. Yet I will go and sign with a light heart because I know, I truly know in my heart that if Chavez remains in office he will steal whatever future I have left.