The latest scandal brewing is the coming visit of Fidel Castro to Venezuela. That would not be the first time, but now it has a totally different feel to it.
Castro stopped coming after April 2002 when his presence was definitely a minus for Chavez. Though Chavez recovery after April 2002 is certainly due at him finally following marching orders dictaded at the very least in large part from Havana. Rumor has that even the referendum maneuvers to pad the results were thought off among Cuban intelligence stationed in Caracas. They do not have free elections for nothing in Cuba.
Now, almost a year after the referendum, as Venezuelan money is holding together Cuba, the prospect of Castro coming to visit his newly acquired colony is taunting us. This would be bad enough already, but to add insult to injury, Chavez, because such an intiative can only be promoted from himself, wants Castro to be made the god parent of the latest military school graduation, during the Carabobo ceremonies of June 24. If this comes ot pass, the symbolism cannot be missed by any one. Castro, the killer of Venezuelan soldiers, will be the honored guest of the Venezuelan army.
I could go on a long article to express the disgust at seeing Chavez as a "vende patria", the ultimate betrayer of the country. But Milagros Socorro came to the rescue with yet another brilliant article (where, by the way, she mends fences with SUMATE). And as I was very busy today, Guillermo also helped tremendously by translating it specially for this site. Readers of this blog are great. Original version here. And also a bonus article from Manuel Felipe Sierra on the subject, not to be missed. There are things that are just indefensible and true spirits always rise to the occasion.
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The Fear Factory
El Nacional, June 09, 2005
A great despair drags down Venezuela's heart.
An anxiety that equally chokes all the political sectors of the nation. Including government sympathizers, because after six years of rhetoric and abuse of the dossier of confrontation, they don't see a true recovery for the country, they can't manage to catch a glimpse of the beginning of a peaceful road, of work, of perspectives favorable to the development of a better life, with opportunities for exercising the right to freedom and personal safety, to study, to develop a career, to have an existence in tune with modernity's promises of well-being (promises we see fulfilled in foreign TV shows, in movies and in the letters we receive from our expatriate relatives). And including the various branches of the opposition, because almost all of them have lost the faith that things might change: we have been humiliated so frequently, cruelly and mercilessly, that even the mildest spirits have begun to give in to disenchantment.
Besides, democratic methods have proven to be more fragile than we thought, and many have failed in the attempt to detour the authoritarian manner in which our country is moving.
As though these weren't enough, some segments of the opposition have let themselves fall under the illusion of methods they thought were faster and which turned out to be swamps where their aspirations were shipwrecked. I'm thinking of that period when some in the opposition thought that if they made a lot of noise in the public spaces where they discovered the presence of a government official, this would help to mine their morale and make them desist from their bureaucratic tasks. Thus there were those who believed that Juan Barreto, to give one example, the man who ordered an anonymous pamphlet be published, in which he insulted various journalists (among whom I had the honor of being included), that this man was going to soften because they banged pots at him.
And I'm thinking of that other period when one sector of the opposition wagered that the salvation of the Republic could be found with the dissident officers of Plaza Altamira. I keep the insults I received at that time in a sealed envelope, insults received when I reacted, a few hours after the maneuvers around the obelisk, pointing out their uselessness and theatrically pathetic quality. (The style of these letters is condensed in a message that read: "Bitch, whore from Maracaibo." Which, by the way, quite imprecise since, in fact, I come from the region of Perija.) As can be seen, that fraction of the opposition was convinced the dissident officers would defeat Chavez's government and a new era would open up for the country. How can that blunder be explained? Because at the time, this state of despair, which today is evident with utmost clarity throughout the entire, absolutely the entire country, was already beginning to be forged.
Other terrible periods would arrive. The times, for example, of what has been called, very appropriately, "the continued fraud," which was so meticulously documented by The SUMATE Report: the "Truth About the Reafirmazo", one of the most horrifying books, because of its rigorous technical tone and the irrefutability of its arguments, its documentation of torture, which in this case was practiced whole scale and not just against one single detained person in a military base (a book, it seems, that few of us have read and respected, since no one cites it when the time comes to mention the great merits of SUMATE, which surpass their graceful physical attributes, themselves undeniable and worthy of notice).
That series of traps, of mockery of citizens and of shameless abuse of power, would conclude with the August 15th referendum, whose results still elicit doubts; if not regarding the support president Chavez counted on and counts on today (which is supported by the polls from that time and now), then definitely because of the antecedents of a gross prohibition of political rights for a very large part of the population.
August 15th would strangle our hope even further. And I allow myself to assure that this means everyone's hope, not only for those us who voted for the option of revoking the presidential mandate, but rather the hope of all Venezuelans. Because that date would mark the flooding of Chavez's authoritarianism (whose greatest coagulation is the Tascon list), his nefarious alliance with Fidel Castro, the handing over of Venezuela's resources to the Cuban dictatorship, the entry of the Cuban G-2 agents, which was already occurring, of course, since the beginning of this government but which became massive at that point and clearly visible to citizens. And that date would also mark, above all, the widening of administrative corruption in all levels of the Government. No one was victorious on August 15th, only Chavez and his clique. And Fidel Castro, who was evidently the prime beneficiary.
After that date, the government would commit itself to a strategy of intimidation elaborated to reach all Venezuelans. It would reach its acolytes, in order to guarantee militancy, loyalty…and complicity, in many cases. And it would reach its adversaries, in order to demolish, in their minds, in the center of their souls, the rebelliousness, the critical spirit, the oppositional clarity. Fear and desperation are the best stimuli for falling into mistakes, for making people lurch, for setting one's principles aside because painful impatience can push one to attack without making important discernments.
And that is where we now find ourselves.
I wish my writing had the necessary efficiency and vigor to express the dismay I feel when I see the president of the Cuban National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon, standing on the dais of our own National Assembly. In my pilgrimage through the Spanish language I haven't yet learned the exact words to account for the tornado that it unleashed in my chest, the mortifying lava that quickly spreads up to my throat and sweeps through my arms. The Cubans have tattooed me with humiliation.
The presence of Cuba's ambassador in our Parliament, in our political life, in the scenarios belonging to Venezuela and to Venezuelans, has permeated me with the greatest shame I have ever felt.
But if I don't have the words to name the dishonor in which I live since Fidel Castro and his thugs are masters of my country, creators of our destiny, I would at least hope to have them to help dismantle the plot prepared to maintain us in fear and silence.
It is with the objective of paralyzing us with fear that Cuba's dictator, the last invader of Venezuela and the executioner of our soldiers (during the 1960s), has been chosen to be the godfather of the upcoming graduation for officers of the Armed Forces. It is for the sake of transforming us into collaborators of this authoritarian project that the commanding general of the Armed Forces, general Raul Baduel, sends a bulletin to the media to announce "the incorporation of the Reserves into the military exercises being realized in the town of El Pao, in the state of Cojedes." This is not a mere gesture of keeping us informed. The esoteric officer concretizes for us, with abstruse slang, the perversity of informing that the Armed Forces are being concentrated in order to become an asymmetrical warrior. In other words, an instant repressor of any subversive initiatives (the asymmetry is not between the United States and Venezuela, in which case we would speak of a sidereal dissimilitude of military options, but rather between the people and the Government).
This, what the sycophants call "military thought" in order to ascribe a philosophical capacity to Chavez, is all conceived to terrorize, confuse and place obstacles against the formidable task of liberation we now face.
All of us Venezuelans.