Is the pathology of democracy firmly established in Venezuela? The electoral triumph of the PSUV in the regional elections, and fundamentally in the rural government offices, is indisputable. But the problem persists, says the author. And this is it: Chávez is a problem, but Chávez is not the problem: the problem, before and after November 23, is called Venezuela.
(From Madrid) PRESIDENT CHÁVEZ’S CANDIDATES have won the regional elections of November 23: the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) prevailed in 17 of the 22 government offices. But the opposition won in Miranda, Zulia, Táchira, Carabobo, Nueva Esparta, and the most important City Hall, Caracas, whose symbolic value is well known.
“In his daily life, the president will not forget that he resides in a city in which the opposition rules” It should be emphasized that the PSUV used to be in power in Táchira and Carabobo, but these areas are now run by the opposition. Furthermore, Miranda includes part of the populous city of Caracas. A high participation -65.45 percent of the electorate- in the elections shows just how committed Venezuelans are.
The mayor-elect of the Libertador municipality, Jorge Rodríguez, said that, since the Constitutional Reform referendum -rejected by the electorate this past December 2nd– the PSUV has obtained something more than one and a half million votes.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE
The results make two things clear. “Once again, the people have endorsed the former paratrooper and coup conspirator’s ambition” The first is that Chávez can claim victory in elections in which he himself was not a candidate, but that he presented as being a referendum on his figure. And the second is that the resistance to a style of power repudiated by many has been consolidated, thus hindering a possible evolution into a dictatorship.
Chávez is right in reference to what he said: now no one can say that there is a dictatorship in Venezuela. In his daily life, the president will not be able to forget that he resides in a city in which the opposition rules.
The PSUV obtained more than 5.6 million votes, and all of the parties that ran against it garnered slightly more than 4 million. “Uslar Pietri: A Government is nothing more than the expression of a reality”
Once again, the people have endorsed the former paratrooper and coup conspirator’s lust for power. Entrusting a man with the current president’s profile with the ability to choose what direction the republic takes, and with the uncertain future that awaits it, is entirely the Venezuelan people’s doing.
We know that charismatic caudillos are only good for leading their nations to ruin, and when they are already in ruin, these figures’ paranoid leadership is only good for consolidating scenarios that the nations will not be able to leave behind.
Therefore we write: Chávez has won some elections that Venezuela has lost.
THE FAILURE OF THE DEMOCRATIC IDEAL
Some days ago we ventured that if Chávez were to win, “The failure of the democratic ideal, which Uslar Pietri talks about, is perfectly compatible with the holding of periodic elections”he would do nothing more than take a step towards his eventual failure. There is an element of circularity running through the lack of a society’s culture, the style of leadership that prospers in it, the misery of large segments of the population, the lack of ideas to change the negative state of things, the corruption of those in power, and the consolidation of underdevelopment. Where can this vicious circle be broken?
In the article that we referred to before, we turned to Arturo Uslar Pietri in our search for answers. And in the dictator Juan Vicente Gómez (1857-1935), we found a portrait of that Venezuela of the beginning of the 20th century, which is the same as the Venezuela of the beginning of the 21st century.
“History hands us portraits of the past that continue to play their pranks at the expense of the people of today” Gómez ruled from 1908 and 1935, sometimes personally, other times through puppets who carried out his will. Uslar Pietri, in Funeral Service (Oficio de Difuntos), writes the following about him:
There is a contradiction in all of this. A Government is nothing more than the expression of a reality. How are we going to have congresses and lawyers and legal systems, if what we have is guerrilla warriors and savage caudillos? In order for the president to be a man like a doctor from Salamanca and not a machete-wielding caudillo, we would have to change the country. Therefore, the fight for the democratic ideal has always failed and will continue to fail. Machete-wielding countries must be governed by the machete. The men who can come to power are these guerrilla leaders.
The failure of the democratic ideal, which Uslar Pietri talks about, is perfectly compatible with the holding of periodic elections. The formal ritual of the ballots does not ensure anything by itself. There is an evil history lurking behind this ritual, from which we can expect little other than more of the same.
And history and truth go hand in hand. Cervantes wrote: truth, whose mother is history, emulator of time, depository of actions, witness to the past, example and advice to the present, warning for the future. And history hands us portraits of the past that continue to play their pranks at the expense of the people of today.
THE NECESSARY GENDARME
In the nineties, Chávez had a bedside book: The Oracle of the Warrior. The author, Lucas Guerrero, is Chilean, and – perhaps – a writer. The perhaps is relevant, because after all, a writer is anyone is who jots down letters and strings words together. Now, what is true is that we have done some research on the author, and indeed, he has no desire to be a writer: his scene is judo, yoga, aikido, acupuncture and martial arts. The intellectual value of the little book in question can be calculated to be zero. And Chávez promoted it in Venezuela. “The author of these lines knows that the article leaves the door wide open to criticism: to some it might seem like a pro-coup article”
But if that book is the one that perhaps defines Hugo Chávez intellectual level best, he must have found the inspiration for founding his regime in another book: I am talking about one called Democratic Caesarism, published in 1919 and written by Laureano Vallenilla Lanz (1870-1936).
Vallenilla talks about the necessary gendarme, and writes: Anyone who reads the history of Venezuela with an unprepared spirit finds that, even after the Independence was assured, social preservation could not in any way entrust itself to laws, but instead to the prestigious and most feared caudillos, as had occurred in the camps.
VENEZUELA OR THE PATHOLOGY OF DEMOCRACY
The author of these lines knows that the article leaves the door wide open to criticism: to some it might seem like a pro-coup article. “Venezuela, a land of poorly managed riches, oil capable of breaking wills, and women with a disturbing beauty that can cause people to lose sleep and predispose some to heart attacks, is a politically gangrenous territory” No: the only pro-coup person here is Chávez. When the doctor confirms that that thing that looks like gangrene is, without a doubt, gangrene, no one accuses him of wanting to cut off a citizen’s leg. And the fact is that Venezuela is not a democracy, but a continuous celebration of democratitis. Formal democracy is the minimum that is demanded, but in no way is the reality satisfactory. One must be glad that there are elections, but the survival of a pre-democratic political culture must be lamented.
Venezuela, a land of poorly managed riches, oil capable of breaking wills, and women with a disturbing beauty that can cause people to lose sleep and predispose some to heart attacks, is a politically gangrenous territory.
And we say this with philosophical arguments: Ortega and Gasset said that democratitis is to democracy what hepatitis is to the liver. In other words: its pathology. And that is the truth: the pathology of democracy is firmly established in Venezuela. The electoral triumph is indisputable. But the problem persists. And it is that Chávez is a problem, but Chávez is not the problem: the problem, before and after November 23, is called Venezuela.