I did not think that I was getting the idea of a theme: how politicians deal with reality in Venezuela. But today, with a High Court (TSJ) idiotic, unfair, unconstitutional ruling and the coincidence of a new ad launched by the team of Leopoldo Lopez we get a new opportunity to discuss what is really at stake.
Globovision has been fined for doing its job during the jail revolt at El Rodeo last June. Besides noting that no one else of the media that was covering the event was fined or even questioned, Globovision not only got a fine that will put in the Chapter 11 bench, but also its workers were rather copiously accused of all sorts of things on the state media, without any right of reply whatsoever. Not only Globovision refuses to pay the deadly fine and is using all of the means to appeal, but its workers signed on their own a recourse that they submitted to the TSJ as to their victim status in all of this mess.
Today the TSJ rejected the recourse form Globovision workers. The rationale that they used are extraordinarily telling on how degraded is the judicial system in Venezuela, how servile it has become and how it is there only to protect the regime and to sink the hopes for justice from anyone pretending to seek mere redress from governmental abuses. See, as I have written in the past, the real coup d'état, the one that allowed for the regime to set it grip on the country was late December 1999 when during the Christmas recess Chavez changed all the justices of the high court to put in his cronies. All went downhill since.
Which were those reasons of the TSJ today? First, that not all of the signers were present in front of the judicial clerk when the recourse was submitted. That the TSJ security asked for only 8 of them to go to the chamber is totally ignored by the justices even though the presence downstairs of the journalists is documented on video. Trickery and material details are now used routinely to dodge any real issue. Second, even though the journalists of Globovision are constantly harassed and constantly insulted on state media the court pretends that none of their human rights has been threatened. And third, the best part, the court used a sentence of 2005 to claim that in fact only politicians have freedom of expression and thus journalists, we suppose, cannot speak their mind or seek redress. I am not too sure how to evaluate completely that as the decision is not yet made public, we only have the lawyer of Globovison to explain it to us so far, but there is no reason to deny the intent of the TSJ in refusing to hear petitions of Globovision or its workers in order eventually to close the last free media left in Venezuela. This is the order from above and the TSJ executes it.
It is difficult for people outside of Venezuela to understand up to what point the judicial system has ceased to work here. Not only any recourse you put against the state has 98% chances of failing, forcing you to move to international courts, but the corruption that goes along makes even individual civil cases decisions depending on whether one of the parties is willing to pay its way out of trouble. This is what makes Venezuela a true dictatorship today because even though there are some form of elections, and even though information sorts of circulates, the results of the vote and the consequences of the information are voided by the courts if there is any reason that these could affect the power of the regime. It is the new hallmark of what the XXI century neo-totalitarian state is all about.
It thus really great today that one of the candidates for the opposition primary manages the trick of creating a political advertisement that ties his aspirations with his deep personal knowledge of what is perhaps the biggest problem of the country. I have to admit that after my depression of the news on Globovision, watching this ad premiere tonight lift my heart. This ad is simply brilliant: Leopoldo Lopez takes his own issue and brings it forward making it the issue of all of us in a way that can be understood clearly, at least at a primal emotional level. We may not know, remember, the issue that put him down, but he stood up again and kept fighting, scoring victories and offering his skill for us to overcome our own misery, to help us in our own doomed fights. Or something like that but we do not care anymore because at the end we find ourselves trusting that man.
"There are those that ask me whether it is true that when I win the election they will not let me rule. Do not let them confuse you: that is what they want you to think. The problems are not the obstacles that they put in front of me and that I have overcome. They want to corner all of us, you, me, our future. Nothing and nobody is above the people. Do not let them fool you, the one that will rule is whomever you elect. We are going to demonstrate that the popular will [Voluntad Popular] cannot be stopped by anyone."
[Note also how brilliant the ad is in that Leopoldo takes was is hobbling his campaign the most these days, that he may not be able to be sworn in, to make it a strength!]
I personally thing that this is perhaps the biggest problem in Venezuela, the one that stops us from finding a solution to any other of our pressing problems, stopping even the regime in finding solutions because the lack of justice perversely ends up working both ways even if naively one side thinks that it is benefiting from so much corruption. When Chavez decides to remove someone, that (ex?)-chavista is no better off than us who have opposed Chavez since day -1. Misery of even a worse nature becomes his or her lot.
It is essential for the Unidad candidates to express such a knowledge of the situation of the country even though I doubt that any other will be able to be as razor sharp as Lopez is above. We are comforted because even if we do not know how he will fix the problem, that he understands it so well makes us confident that he will find a way.
Again, not only a brilliant advertisement (to whomever thought of it) but also a big moment in the campaign just as Arria's position in the first debate was a peak. Now two candidates have been able to demonstrate their stature, their grasp of what is at stake. We are now waiting for the others to make their move and reassure voters like me that we can trust them and follow them on D-day wherever it is we need to follow them.