For years, diplomats of the democratic world have listen to the cry of 49.12% of the Venezuelan people asking for expressions of support in the face of the authoritarianism they are suffering.
By JAVIER EL- HAGE / ROBERTO GONZÁLEZ
El País. 03 – 05 – 2014
When the East German government erected the Berlin Wall to prevent its citizens from escaping from that dictatorship, West Germany decided to follow the footsteps of the United States and created his own volunteer Peace Corps to promote social and democratic values in other countries around the world, and doing so present resistance to the expansionist Soviet totalitarianism. Applauding the initiative, President John F. Kennedy said: “Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of moral crisis maintained their neutrality.”
For years, diplomats of the democratic world, including Latin Americans gathered in the OAS, UNASUR and CELAC, have heard the cry of 49.12% of the Venezuelan people –a percentage certified by the Chavista electoral body itself after the 2013 elections– that ask for support expressions in the face of the authoritarianism they are suffering.
The democratic half of the country has never asked the U.S. to send marines to topple Maduro, as the government suggests, but spent years asking the world to emit expressions of solidarity rejecting the complete takeover of state institutions by the “chavistas”, including the use of the Venezuelan intelligence agency and the submissive judiciary power to intimidate, persecute and to put in jail critics of the government. It calls for the rejection of the closure of all TV channels that have an independent editorial line. Since the recent closure of NTN24, Venezuela has literally only one news channel (transmitted by cable): CNN en Español; others simply transmit soap operas, sports, or the stultifying government discourse. This segment of the population also asks that election results, which gave victory to Chavez’s representative by a difference of 1%, be declared illegitimate, viewing it as the product of an election that was neither free nor fair, which was characterized by governmental abuse and the monopoly of the media.
That excluded half simply asks the world to shun the physical beatings given by chavistas to the parliamentarians who represent that 49.12%; asks that these parliamentarians be allowed a word in the National Assembly; that the “enabling laws” (as that from last December 2013) which have allowed the chavistas to “legislate” for years through the same “decree laws” used by Pinochet and Videla, be dismissed. It calls for the condemnation of the unilateral policies of a government that has submitted the whole country (not just half) to the highest inflation and murder rates in the world, and the “scarcity index” (published by the Chavista Central Bank itself) oscillating between 25-30%, which means that 25 out of 100 products in stores and supermarkets have vanished throughout Venezuela.
We are faced with a government that blatantly tramples half of the country. First it shuts down any roads for institutional participation, and when, in reaction to this, 49.12% of the country takes to the streets to protest the disastrous results of the imposed policies, protesters are automatically suppressed and labeled as “murderers”, “Nazis”, “fascists” and “terrorists” during mandatory broadcastings for all media. The trouble is that these insults do not come from a irrelevant radical looking to escalate the violence, but from the commander of all weapons in the country (including those of vigilante groups) himself, Nicolas Maduro, the head of the legislative branch, Diosdado Cabello, and Foreign Minister Elias Jaua; and that stigmatization is accompanied by the imprisonment of the leader of that massive opposition who called for the peaceful street protest, under charges of “terrorism” and “murder” (later lessened to “incitement to commit crime”, among others).
An authoritarian rule prevails in Venezuela, where government officials behave like street bullies, the difference being that the former do not cower to public scrutiny or media exposure, but rather are imbued with that “revolutionary conviction” that wills them to get rid of that 49.12% of Venezuelans, be it by imprisoning them, killing them, or simply terrorizing them. Maduro’s government has not resorted to indiscriminate shrapnel, as many dictatorships did in the past, because that kind of repression would be too obvious and outrageous in a Venezuela that, after 15 years of chaos and political paranoia, uses Twitter as no other Spanish-speaking nation in the world. Instead, the government has been using the “surgical approach” consisting of having agents of the SEBIN and paramilitaries kill one by one, and with accurate shots to the head, a small number of protesters to see if millions are terrified enough to cease the protests and go back home to inertly wait as the arrival of the night of dictatorship keeps falling on them.
But the targeted extrajudicial executions has not worked and Venezuelans remain in the streets demanding Maduro’s depart, while playing a tyrannical Russian roulette. And they will continue to be in the streets because they do not need anyone’s permission or compassion to do so and because they know well that all nonviolent revolutions throughout history have occurred in the streets: in the streets of Johannesburg while Mandela was in prison, in the streets of Prague lead by Václav Havels, in those of Poland led by Lech Walesa, and in those of Santiago de Chile, where years before Operation Condor was hatched, at the head of the brave leaders of a democratic agreement that sang, banged on pans, and waving flags and posters to remind the dictator that his days were numbered. And because it’s on the street where you can best lay bare the cruel nature of a regime that is capable of executing and beating students and defenseless women, and because it is then, when their brutality has been made transparent in the eyes of the world, that the authoritarians starts to lose that which made them strong: the support and obedience of their followers.
The clamor for recognition, freedom and democracy in Venezuela is a request of elemental justice, and it should not surprise or confuse the hundreds of politicians and diplomats around the world who came to their jobs thanks to the notion that their countries’ democratic institutions respected them when they were part of opposition and auditing forces. That’s why politicians and diplomats from the United States, Canada and the European Parliament have responded by condemning the abuses of Venezuela´s government and call for the immediate dissolution, disarmament, and to put an end to the impunity of the paramilitary groups known as “revolutionary collectives”. The blunt statement from the European Parliament shows that the European people and their representatives learned –after much bloodshed under the terrible Nazism, fascism, Francoism, and communism– the importance of all the institutions that form a democracy.
It’s distressing that out of 31 Latin American heads of state, so far only three messages have been sent. The first was a shy but laudable message from the Panamanian government, which consulted its ambassador in Caracas and asked that its permanent representative to the OAS (formerly headed by a leading democrat: Ambassador Guillermo Cochez) request an urgent meeting to discuss the situation in Venezuela. The second was a strong, decisive, unconditional and militant support, but not to the democrats who are risking their lives in the streets, but towards the authoritarian government, from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Uruguay plus, of course, the Cuban dictatorship that has even sent troops to help suppress the people.
The third message is a deafening silence coming from all other Latin American states, many of whose leaders closely experienced a mere three decades ago a state terrorism from military dictatorships that stigmatized, tortured and disappeared not only young, armed rebels (which should have been prosecuted for using terrorist tactics), but who also terrorized a generation of people that included fans, followers, relatives, and any other supporter of those same Marxist ideas.
A diplomat, that when young opposed the dictatorship of Pinochet, and that broke the silence last week, was the secretary general of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, but made it through a press release with a funny language, in which it announced that he will remain neutral as to not “deepen” the “ideological divide” in Venezuela. To Insulza, such “ideological divide” consists in that the opposition has “damnably” called the venezuelan government a “dictatorship” and that the government “damnably” calls half of the country “fascists.” What Insulza does not say is that the “fascists” are actually all the parties and democratic organizations of Venezuela who years ago had to join forces to face the authoritarianism, and that today do not have a voice in the parliament and in the media. Nor does he says that the “dictatorship” is that which has imprisoned and is still imprisoning opponents, that which shut down all critical media, that which dictates all executive orders it feels like, and that which, before the protest of millions of defenseless people, releases the packs of armed forces, police, parallel polices, and judges.
Insulza and his colleagues, who today continue to maintain an immoral neutrality before the injustice being suffered by the Venezuelan people, will not be assigned to the hottest place in hell, as President Kennedy mistakenly interpreted. In the Divine Comedy, the useless, undecided and neutral towards injustice were not sent to the hottest place in hell, but were condemned to wander the banks of the River Acheron (anteroom of hell), where, after watching and listening to many souls suffer with “sighs”, “cries” and “words of pain,” Dante asked Virgil, “Teacher, what causes them that sorrow and such bitter lamentations?” Virgil answered:
This miserable fate is that deserved of the sad souls of those people who lived without fame and without infamy. They are confused between the wicked choir of angels who were not rebels nor faithful to God, but to themselves.
“This miserable mode maintain the melancholy souls of those who lived withouten infamy or praise. Commingled are they with that caitiff choir of Angels, who have not rebellious been, nor faithful were to God, but were for self. […] These have no longer any hope of death; and this blind life of theirs is so debased, they envious are of every other fate. No fame of them the world permits to be; Misericord and Justice both disdain them. Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass.”
Javier El-Hage is International Legal Director and Roberto González Associate Lawyer at the Human Rights Foundation; a non-profit international organization that promotes and protects human rights globally based in New York. Follow them at Twitter: @JavierElHage y @RobCGonzalez
Source. El-Hage, Javier y Robert González. “El infierno de los diplomáticos de la OEA, la UNASUR y la CELAC”.
El País. 03 – 05 – 2014
Translated by #infoVnzla