We make a lot of noise, we resist. We are used to that.
That is why Chavez has had so many troubles to reach his personal goals. That is why gullible foreigners have been puzzled by the claims of some parts of the opposition that Venezuelans live in a "dictatorship". There is such a thing as a mixed political system. There is Lukashenko light. There is Venezuela.
If you happen to visit Venezuela in the context of some EU delegation, if you belong to the left part of the Left and you are staying at a nice hotel with cable TV and you happen to watch Globovisión or another similar fierce opponent to Chavez, you might arrive at the conclusion that Chavez is a democrat and a rather permissive politician. If you just visit some shopping centre and take a guided tour by Chavista officials to some slum, you might become more sure Venezuelans live in total democracy. You might hear Globovisión saying Chávez is behaving like a dictator, that he is a monster, that corruption is unprecedented and nepotism has reached incredible levels. And you might think: well, that is not what one hears when visiting a country like Belarus or Cuba. You would never hear something like that in Iran or in China either.
The thing is: Chávez has been trying to push us into a dictatorship and things went well for him as long as petrodollars were flowing in fast enough. Chávez has played the game as long as he knew he had good chances. He threatened in a more menacing way when he felt more insecure. In 1998, when he was running for the first time, he kept saying if he did not win, "The People" would stand up and violence would ensue. He said the same thing time after time before the referendum of 2004, when it was not clear he would win. He kept repeating that time after time.
Chávez popularity started to drop last year. Corruption has been too much, mismanagement cannot be covered up by the huge amount of petrodollars, crime has hit everyone and all threats are way too much for the average Venezuelan.
Last December he lost a referendum. The referendum was intended to allow him to run for president as many times as he and, of course, The People, wanted, and it had some sweeties as well intended for the people (don't confuse with The People). Since then he has kept repeating people were lazy for not going to vote for him en masse, people did not understand the issues, his workers did not do their jobs and he once said the opposition's victory was just a pyrrhic
victory and one that was "shit, shit, shit".
He started saying he would push for his reforms in other ways. It seems he even forgot the sweeties he was adding to his reform to get it passed in December (sweeties like a 6 hour work day in a country where productivity is very low). His obsession is staying beyond 2013 and that is all he talks about, apart from hammering on against Colombia's government.
Yesterday Chávez declared in Aló Presidente that he would press for a referendum in 2010. That referendum would be ask people "a little question" (he keeps repeating "little" all the time). People would be asked if they want to allow indefinite reelections.
He said, more importantly, that there will be a war in case in the next elections a "counter-revolutionary" would win.
"If Hugo Chávez - he often talks in third person - has to hand over the presidency to some else, he won't give power to a counter-revolutionary because if he did, we would have a war. I am telling those Venezuelans who are confused or angry not to be short-sighted, we are the project of peace".
Hugo Chávez Frías is known for using the personality cult to Simón Bolívar in ways similar to what old dictator Juan Vicente Gómez did. He might be wanting to "Gomez us" in other ways now as well. What might he be thinking for 2013? He might think
- to let someone with the same maternal and paternal DNA he has be the president of Venezuela, someone like...hum, minister of Education Adan Chávez Frías
- to let a pawn of his do the same, someone like PDVSA chef Rafael Ramírez or any other "revolutionary" he likes
- to use violence in spite of results. In that case he would say the opposition did not leave him any option and he would have done it for the people (even if we know it is for the The People).
A reference about Gómez:
Juan Vicente Gómez claimed to have been born the day Simón Bolívar was born (well, our good chap Chávez does not say that about himself, it would be hard to believe). He was president of Venezuela from
- 1908 until
- 1914 when he gave the power to puppet Victorino Márquez Bustillos until
- 1922, when he took over officially again and was president until
- 1929, when he selected puppet Juan Bautista Pérez, who ruled in his name until
- 1931, when Gómez took office again until he died in 1935, according to his friends on the very same day Simón Bolívar died.
To the EU observers: it takes more than just watching Globovisión in a nice hotel in Caracas (and going to guided tours) to get a picture of the state of democracy in Venezuela.