Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Creative forms of apartheid: The Russian list in Venezuela elections

A few days ago the UCAB president wrote a major OpEd piece in El Nacional. The subject was Clodosvaldo Russian decision to bar more than 400 folks from running in the November local election. I will get back on this in more details in an oncoming post. For now I will just state that the decision of Russian, the greatest enabler of Chavez and the corruption that sustains his regime, is unconstitutional as this vile individual pretends that an ill written law is above the constitution.

The OpEd piece of Ugalde, a Jesuit priest leading perhaps the most prestigious private campus in Venezuela is noteworthy as it brings our attention to the contemptible complacency of many people inside chavismo and the opposition. In a way it is a sad comment of the degree of moral turpitude that we in Venezuela seem to have reached after 10 years of degrading chavismo. That inner chavismo seems every day more morally corrupt is not a surprise: absolute power and absolute corruption do corrupt absolutely. But what is much graver is that the opposition reactions to the new apartheid like Russian list seem to indicate that the moral corruption reaches there too, that at least within the political class there is not much hope for regeneration for our country.

The translation next.

Forbidden to chose/vote (1)

Luis Ugalde (UCAB president)

I am one of the 20 million Venezuelans who has never belonged to a political party.

In my case as a priest I will never belong, for obvious reasons. But I am a militant of democracy and social justice, where human rights and dignity are at stake and do not understand how democrats, from either the government and the opposition sides are letting go the serious attacks against democracy these days.

Why we Venezuelans, six months after the December 2007 referendum, do not have the final result? In which democracy can remain in office a Defence Minister who called cowards and donkeys most of his colleagues because they identify with the military institutions of the Armed Forces, as required by the Constitution? How can he be a sincere democrat who from the presidency states and requires from his followers: 'Repeat that those who vote for the opposition want war'? As much a lie as 'whoever votes for the opposition will do this for a plan to split Venezuela in pieces and give to Colombia or the Empire’. These are desperate efforts to polarize the country with irresponsible slanderous inventions.

More serious is the decision by the Comptroller that forbade to run for office and be elected some 400 people, expressly violating article 42 of the Constitution which reads: 'The exercise of citizenship or any political rights can only be suspended by final court judgment in the cases determined by law '.

If the comptroller has time on his hands and does not know what to do, there are tens of billions of dollars that the Government has granted and spent against the law and even against the Constitution, within and outside the country.

Who is the Comptroller obeying to as he violates the Constitution? Why the silence from the Supreme Court and the CNE? Where are the Democrats, from the opposition and government, hiding? We are told that in Belarus (Iran also has its methods) similar disqualifications have been the way to shore up the dictatorship.

Faced with this infamy, we are surprised by the silence from the government side, and we are affronted by the opposition silence; it would seem that some clumsy and visionless individuals are making petty calculations to see how they can benefit from the unconstitutional proscription affecting their colleagues. So were some opposition parties in September last year before the terrible threat of an adoption of the totalitarian Constitution.

We found cynical, but very likely, the explanation then given us: none of them would gamble against the authoritarian constitution that will end with democracy, because they do not want to pay the price of the December defeat. As students did not fear paying the price, and did fear losing democracy and freedom, they gave the battle to which later all joined to achieve victory.

Most Venezuelan democrats are not enthused with some opposition leaders because they do not see them stirred against flagrant violations of the Constitution, but instead doing shameful calculations. It seems that the tree of a small election prevents them from seeing the forest for democracy. Venezuelans want to see resolute leaders against mismanagement and corruption, leaders identified with the themes of social justice within democracy. Venezuela has hope and future, but lacks a strong democratic project, with parties and organizations determined to forge ahead.

No matter what political hue the proscribed individuals are, this is a non-negotiable principle. If the supreme finger achieves a paralysis of all the legal ways, then democracy will have to be defended in the streets. Do not expect the democrats to earn the confidence of the country without the courage and unity required to defend the Constitution on this issue of the proscribed.

There is no 'final verdict’ from any judge against these 400, and in accordance with the Constitution, they are not prohibited from running. In addition, those who violate the Constitution by preventing their choice, 'incur criminal, civil and administrative responsibility according to the case'.

It would be a grave mistake if political parties, student movements and citizen organizations allow that the electoral triumph is snatched from many candidates because, irresponsibly, a certain comptroller ordered the violation of the Constitution.

1) the Spanish title is a pun of sorts based on some local civilian organizations.

-The end-

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