In this New Year day a late breakfast brought me in front of the TV to see what was the latest on Gaza. Telesur did not disappoint choosing to celebrate 50 years of Castro entry into Havana as the biggest event of our Latin American lives (1).
I find it odd that chavismo supporters celebrate such an event which ushered in the longest dictatorship in Latin American history, rich of such caudillos to begin with. After all, one of the main arguments of chavismo sycophants is the lovely recount of how many elections Chavez won since 1998. Curiously in almost the same text they praise Castro who never submitted his rule to a competitive election. The distortions and inner contradictions of that lot will never cease to amaze me.
I had more opportunity to think about that today as I am reading “El Poder y El Delirio” the latest book of Mexican historian Enrique Krauze who in spite of a couple of tiny errors should be mandatory reading for anyone in Venezuela who has any pretension at an intellectual discourse (2). And I must say that if I picked two minimal errors it is because I am an amateur historian myself and because Mr. Krause did not write an actual history book but rather a critical review on Venezuela’s recent events. He is professional enough not to attempt such a feat from Mexico even though in my experience the best history books are always written by foreigners.
Still, as I am reaching page 100 of the book, I must say that I am pleased to read someone who puts so clearly and succinctly the nefarious role that Fidel Castro has played in all of Latin America, almost single-handedly delaying our progress in the name of his own ambition and his hatred of the US. True, Castro and Cuba do have reasons to hold grief against the US but that was never an excuse to build a continental movement defined AGAINST things rather than FOR ideas. Revenge has always been a key emotion that drove Latin America guerilla groups, best exemplified on how this led the FARC to become a simple drug cartel. And revenge feelings of Chavez against imaginary ills have also allowed him to squander Venezuelan wealth in pursuit of his very own and personal agenda, created by the manipulation of Castro on his immature psyche. I personally doubt that Chavez was himself directly affected by a “gringo”, and certainly less than I could claim myself to have been affected if I were to look at the decade an a half I spent in the US, too often confronted to US bigotry and xenophobia.
Krauze is absolutely clear in his appreciation that Venezuela, or rather the money that came with Venezuela’s oil, has been the main target of Fidel Castro as the best way to finance his reign of terror all across Latin America. Chavez has been stupid enough to serve it on a silver platter to an aging and failing Castro. Failing is a purposefully chosen word because as soon as Raul felt in enough control he started reversing some of the dogmas held dear to Castro. Not that these dogmas were necessarily ideological dogmas of Fidel, but because Fidel has known always that in a island nation any independent thinking or independent means of existence were invariably serious threats to any established power. Islands are either beacons of democracy or ruthless dictatorships.
The evil of Castro has thus kept spreading in Latin America. He finally managed to conquer Bolivia. Ecuador is not a sure thing but Nicaragua has been taken back in the most shameful way. Salvador could well be the next victim. Peru and Colombia cannot rest in peace and any day a new country could be added to those where Castro ideas come to destroy everything without building anything. Make no mistake: what Chavez pretends to carry across Latin America is nothing else but the old and failed recipes of Fidel Castro who only bring ruin, misery and tyranny. Chavez democratic mask has fallen off and he now stomps on it happily. The only novelty here comes from us living in an era of mass communication where charismatic leaders can do what they could not do 50 years ago when long and one on one campaigns allowed influential electors to get a better image of the candidates seeking their votes. Or why do you think that Castro never sought to gain votes the hard way?
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This post is dedicated to my friend Val Prieto and the folks at Babalu who might be at times a little too extreme for me but who on Cuba have been fighting the good fight, and impeccably at that. Like Krauze or yours truly, Val has known from day one what Chavez was all about.
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1) Telesur is the Chavez created network intended as a “reply” to CNN. Over the years it has slowly but surely become a sycophantic channel for Chavez glory and anything anti US you can come up with.
2) Editorial Alfa; ISBN 978-980-354-266-5