Saturday, July 23, 2005

Honorable Venezuelans

With such a title the reader could be forgiven from expecting a list of the distinguishable honorable Venezuelan who dotted our history. Instead I will offer a gallery of rogues, recent ones at that.

It all started last Sunday when EL Universal published an interview of Rosalio Cardinal Castillo Lara, by Roberto Giusti (translated in English here). Not to elaborate too much on this subject, Cardinal Castillo has had a very distinguished career in the Vatican administration for which he obtained many years ago the princely title. Based, in large part on the trust he gained from both John Paul II and Benedict XV. This is a man that has seen it all, a man that has succeeded in life beyond any hope he could have had when he left his humble Güiripa decades ago to study for priesthood when Venezuela was still a rural country. And after so many years in the cultural splendors of Rome, he preferred to come back to his family house in Güiripa for his retirement where recites mass for his humble parishioners and neighbors.

In the interview, the Cardinal replied to a question as follows:

Q: Do you think that all in all, there is still rule of the law in Venezuela?

A: Let me laugh. A long time ago, I have said that there is neither democracy nor rule of the law. This is just varnished democracy. The laws approved by a feeble majority, but majority in any case, against the constitution, according to which qualified majority should approve organic laws, do not represent justice or law, but the way to an oppressive end.

Readers of this blog of course will not be surprised by such an opinion, an opinion held by at least the 40% of the people who voted against Chavez in 2004, and certainly held by the chavistas in office who enjoy that privilege of not having to account for their administrative actions.

The answer came swiftly that same Sunday afternoon during the Chavez talk show. In declarations that matched any vulgarity he ever uttered, words or tone, he repeatedly used the words Pharisee, hypocrite, bandit, devil, enabler (in the pimp sense), coup monger, and immoral.

The Cardinal was promptly asked for his opinion, and replied magnificently: he would only be affected if those insults were coming from an honorable person. And in case the message was not clear he added "Things are noticed according from whom they come".

It is needless to say that the reaction to Chavez words was not very favorable. Though it would be useful to point out that according to the new "gag law" the Cardinal would be in his perfect right to sue Chavez for saying that live on TV. But of course the Cardinal knows full well who controls the justice and probably felt quite satisfied to have made a bull's eye on the president, who as usual replies with insults instead of arguments... Just as he probably used to do in the barracks that he should have never left, la soldatesca...

Instead of dwelling in news already one week old, I would rather look at the notion of honorable, so well used by Cardinal Castillo. A web search gives us the following:
1-honest: not disposed to cheat or defraud; not deceptive or fraudulent
2-showing or characterized by honor and integrity
3-used as a title of respect
4-ethical: adhering to ethical and moral principles
5-estimable: deserving of esteem and respect

Do we find any of this in the Chavez administration?

1-Hugo Chavez, who promised to change his name in 1998 if within a few months street kids could still be found in Venezuela. There are more street kids in Caracas than ever, at every major intersection, dirty, starving, trying to make a living out of acrobatic acts while cars are waiting for the green light, or with plain begging. No word.

2-Isaias Rodriguez, the nation's prosecutor, busy pursuing any opposition figure while accusations against chavista officials lay gathering dust in some distant shelve of the state prosecution building. No integrity.

3-Nicolas Maduro, the National Assembly president, declaring that he will rule the assembly as he pleases, and who has no qualms sending the guard to kick out anyone who dares oppose his pusillanimous decisions. No respect for institutions.

4-Jorge Rodriguez, the CNE president, who stopped hiding long ago his political preferences, making fun openly of the opposition complains while as the electoral umpire he should be the most impartial person in the country. No ethics.

5-Jose Vicente Rangel, the vice president, once upon a time a journalist in the search of truth and who daily tries to justify the unjustifiable. No self respect.

The reader will easily sense that I could write hundreds of examples, and list dozens and dozens of high ranking officials in this list.

Since 1958 this is definitely the administration most lacking in honor. And one would be hard pressed to find past administrations of our pre 1958 caudillo era as dishonorable as this one: many a caudillo allowed his political enemies to take a dignified road to exile even if he could have arrested and killed them. Even Gomez probably betrayed his own word and violated his own constitution in his near 30 years reign less than what Chavez has done currently since 1999, to the constitution he wrote himself.

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