Dear President Maduro,
I have seen a video in which you address me directly, making reference to a note I published on my website. I don’t usually reply to comments, but I feel obliged to do so this time as you have addressed me directly. I hope it is not a fabricated video, as there are many that litter the Internet today. In any case, if it’s fake I’d have to say it is of the highest quality.
Given the respect you deserve as President, and as such, the person who represents a nation, I must begin my note by thanking you for the general tone of your comment about my letter. I take it by your amicable gesture that you have understood the good intentions underlying my thoughts, which I have expressed in a heartfelt manner with the Venezuelan people in mind.
I do not wish to initiate an epistolary debate of sorts, but I would like to clarify some of the points you raised yesterday insofar as they involve me personally.
- The comments I made about the difficult situation that Venezuela is experiencing are not the result of what I see and hear on CNN, Univisión, or any other news source, be it “imperialist” or not. They were born from the letters, comments, and reflections shared with friends, in Venezuela and abroad, and from my careful and analytical reading of a great number of publications, both in favour and against your government. I believe the diverse nature of the material I usually choose to read tends to feed my points of view in a broad and objective manner.
- I have not, knowinlgy or unnconsciously, joined a plot orchestrated by the CIA, nor am I part of an “international lobbying effort” created with the purpose of bringing any given government into disrepute. I was surprised once again to hear these types of accussations. After all, aren’t we beyond this type of labeling in the 21st Century? If I criticize someone on the Left, then I must be part of the CIA. If I criticize someone who considers himself Right-wing, then I must be a communist. If I criticize militarism, then I must be “subversive”.
- I agree that by winning consecutive elections, the late President Chávez proved that the traditionally dominant political parties in Venezuela had been completely discredited, and that the desire to change the country had been freely expressed by the people at the polls.However, it is also true that today Venezuela cannot be considered an united nation. The country’s population is politically polarized, it is a society immersed in obvious contradictions, with a government elected by a margin of merely 1.49%, or less than 51% of the votes cast by approximately 80% of the voting population, with an abstention rate of 20.32%. Despite this, the government is determined to impose a political/economic system —which I will not qualify as neither good nor bad— that is evidently not supported by a clear majority of the population. In such a situation it seems reasonable to call for a national consultation process so that the people can decide. In the absence of this, well, then it seems as if something is being imposed. President Maduro, I think that your government does not hold a representative majority that can justify what you are doing to the country. On the other hand, the opposition, a mix of Venezuela’s old political guard and new visions that fight to earn respect and be taken into account, is not comprised by a couple of fascist pigs, as it is being portrayed. We are talking about a large amount of people. Under these circumstances, Venezuela today could be likened to a house where a divided family has to live, but where some cannot go into or even walk by certain rooms. The Venezuela of today is not the nation that all its inhabitants aspire to live in. If we take into account the total number of votes cast in 2013, it looks more like a version of the country that only 50% of the population supports. This reality makes it necessary to consider the possibility of modifying the current course of action in search of a balance: one that could pave the way for a national debate to take place on its own terms, perhaps in a more realistic and less aggresive fashion; a Venezuela where brothers and sisters do not have to be drawn into a shouting match of “Motherland or Death” (Patria o Muerte).
- Given that Chavistas define themselves as “Socialists”, we must assume that they know what they are talking about. They must have studied those who initially converted the theories of Marx and Engels into experimental proposals of socialism and communism, especially in Russia after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. They must know, for example, about Vladimir Ilich Lenin’s comments in his pamphlet“Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder (by the way, this is not a Borges-like artifice, it is the actual title given to the work by Lenin —you can ask Fidel if you don’t believe me, I’m sure he’s read it). In his work Lenin cites the mistakes that had been made in the name of the Left-wing movement by ignoring objective circumstances at the moment of making decisions, and even worse, the historical consequences of not recognizing and rectifying said mistakes. He describes how in 1918 comrades Radek and Bukharin, the top representatives of what was known at that time as “Left-wing Communism”, had to publicly recognize the mistake of not understanding or accepting at first that the argument that justified the Brest Peace Accord was not necessarily a compromise with imperialists, but rather that it obeyed to a political need determined by the objective conditions of that particular time. Something that Lenin described as a “do ut des”, or “give and take”. The metaphor used by Lenin about assailants and victims clearly illustrates his position. When it comes to Venezuela selling its oil to the US in exchange for the dollars the economy needs, couldn’t one say that the implicit agreement between Venezuela and “Imperialism” is nothing but a “do ut des”?
- By the same token, current circumstances would suggest that it is probably not a good idea for your government to impose its wishes, nor that it brushes aside or ignores the validity of the arguments brought forward by your critics in Venezuela. I do not believe that repression, censorship, or demagogy can be seen as a rational response to an undeniable objective condition. This sort of attitude can only generate more violence, which could lead to unruliness and a political vacuum that could only be filled by a coup d’état, as the military would be the only institution with the organizational capability and coercive power to confront the resulting civil and institutional chaos.
- I am not, never have been, or ever will be in favor of armed interference by any country with the intention of meddling with the internal affairs of our countries. I state this categorically. My own country suffered such wrongdoing, and I find no justification for it whatsoever.
- Although I thank you for your invitation to visit Venezuela, I do not believe it is appropriate to accept it at this moment. Such a visit could be considered as an endorsement of your administration and of your government’s stance. Similarly, I wouldn’t accept any type of invitation from your opponents; not now. To make this point absolutely clear: I have also rejected invitations to stage concerts in Venezuela this year,as I do not think it is the right thing to do in the current situation.
- Regarding the “Venezuelan soul”, Mr. President, and the nobility of your people, I know these all too well. I carry them with me, without labels, right next to my Panamanian and Latin American soul. This cannot be disputed and plays no part in this discussion. Besides, I have come across this soul both inside and outside your noble country ever since I first visited it in the 1960’s. And it is something that grows as years go by, rekindled through my friendship with César Miguel Rondón, Pedro León Zapata, the late but my friend always, José Ignacio Cabrujas, Jonathan Yakubowicz, Edgar Ramírez, Budu, Oscar de León, Clarita Campins, Marilda Vera, Gustavo Dudamel, Ozzy Guillén, the great Luis Aparicio; also in my admiration for Don Simón Díaz –whom we are sadly grieving for right now–Aldemaro Romero, Professor Abreu, and so many other amazing exponents of the talent, abilites, and nobility of Simon Bolivar’s people. They all reinforce the presence of this soul, perhaps none more so than my late and dear friend, the eternally young Luis Santiago, who left us in his prime during the tragic floods of La Guaira in 1999. Equally inspiring is the excellence of the young men and women graduated from El Sistema, the orchestras and the choir, all of them marvellous examples of what can be achieved through hard work, discipline and the hope of becoming someone better. Without making a fuss, without pamphleteering, guided by Venezuelan maestros the popular sectors have proven that they are world class.I do not need to go to Venezuela to find its soul, because I carry it with me wherever I go, from way back.
- I agree with the affirmation that, under governments seeing themselves as Left-wing, a greater number of opportunities are created for the poorer segments of the population. Generally speaking, so called Right-wing governments are more concerned with their own interests than with those of the people that they allegedly represent. However, I think there are different versions with which we can typify the sort of empowerment that you are talking about, understanding “empowerment” as granting the “Pablo Pueblo” character that I describe in my song the possibility of doing and the power to do. One of these is generating opportunities so that people’s dignity and rights are respected. Another is offering people the opportunity to develop their capabilities, and not only through subsidies that make them dependent on others, or that stimulate the worse instincts in all of us. For me, the true social revolution is that which provides a better quality of life for all, one that satisfies the needs of the human species, including the need to be recognized and to reach a state of self-fulfillment, one that grants opportunities without expecting servility in return. Unfortunately, no revolution has achieved this yet.
I express my opinions Mr. President without hatred or secret agendas, devoid of irony or surreptitious interests. I would like to reiterate my appreciation for the amicable tone of your conversation and for granting your precious time to address the words of this Panamanian of Latin America.
I would like to conclude making a plea to the two opposing groups of my dear Venezuela: start contributing positively and put an end to your negative actions. Stop insulting each other and forget your diatribes so that Venezuelans can start talking to each other again. Silence is the best preamble to a reasoned dialogue.
Long live Venezuela!
February 20, 201
Rubén Blades Bellido de Luna, professionally known as Rubén Blades, is a Panamanian salsa singer, songwriter, actor, Latin jazz musician, and activist, performing musically most often in the Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz genres. (via Wikipedia)
Original source: Respuesta al presidente de Venezuela
Translation by #InfoVnzla