By Luis Manuel Aguana
If anything has been served these days without electricity courtesy of the regime by action, omission, corruption and deliberate chaos, it has been to stop reading for a while in electronic (Twitter, WhatsApp, news sites and articles on the web) forcing me to return to the traditional method of reading in paper books. And since there’s no bad thing that doesn’t come in handy, as the popular saying goes, re-reading the work of master Manuel Caballero “Romulo Betancourt, politician of the nation”, I found this pearl that I had previously overlooked because we weren’t in the situation we’re in:
“But above all there is a lesson that in one way or another has to impress him (referring to Betancourt), so much so that it is evident: the Venezuelan people may detest the gomecist regime, but first and foremost they hate civil war. Along with his Marxist readings, when he arrived in Costa Rica, he said it many times, Betancourt will dedicate his scarce free time to reading Francisco González Guinán’s very boring and gigantic Contemporary History of Venezuela. To go through these pages is to realize why the Venezuelan people prefer tyranny to anarchy, despotism to war. And the relevance for the history of the country is accentuated by the 28th movement of the group of young people who rebelled in the street and not in the camps…”. (1) (highlighted by us)
That quote hit me like a hammer on the head. And I flew into González Guinán’s Contemporary History of Venezuela – which in my opinion is not boring at all – and rescued the following quotation that corresponds to the description of the period of José Tadeo and José Gregorio Monagas in the 19th century, which can well be applied to all the bloody history of that century, including the Federal War:
“it was about political upheavals, civil wars, social upheavals, faults, liberal conquests, institutional reforms, nepotism, and the usurpation of public power. In its beginning, the exaltation of the passions of the parties communicated to politics an extraordinary warmth: men forgot their homeland; the parties fought with fierceness; hatred animated hearts; slander was introduced with anger into the ranks of adversaries; reprisals were cruel, and having taken the dais of the legislators as the sad arena of gladiators to begin the armed struggle, the temple of law was desecrated and opened the dark palenque of internal wars”. (2)
That text is a precise description of what is happening in Venezuela today. History repeats itself and the difference is that the war has not yet begun. Too much blood has been shed in our country, and according to the quote from Betancourt’s life described by Manuel Caballero, that violence was engraved in the genes of Venezuelans to the point of preferring “tyranny to anarchy, despotism to war,” and hence, according to the historian, to fight tyranny, Betancourt chose a Leninist party forged for civil struggles rather than going to armed confrontation. But is this what you would apply today? I would venture to assert that this assessment is not as applicable as it was at the time. We are not facing a common tyranny. We are facing an international criminal cartel.
So thinking of political tools to deal with a situation that is criminal in nature puts things in a different perspective; and where it definitely requires the use of legitimate state violence, only in this case this violence is hijacked by criminals.
But there is still a quotation pending for history and it would seem that we are indeed willing to set ourselves a tyranny preferring despotism to war. It’s hard to say, but so far that’s what’s happened. But it has happened because the political factors driving the process have not dared to establish the conditions for that decision to be faced by the people themselves. Hence, a timorous political leadership makes the car of history not advance because she has decided to drive with one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake at the same time, due to the most abject interests that favor the internal politics of the parties opposed to the welfare of the population.
And in that sense, the Director of the Inter-American Institute for Democracy, Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, puts his finger on that wound when he states in a recent article: “Today in Venezuela there are only two entities that do not recognize Juan Guaidó as President in Charge and they are Maduro’s dictatorship and the National Assembly that is supposed to end the dictatorship. Guaidó is prisoner of the sum of minorities that make up the opposition majority, which prevents the President from forming a government because he has imposed in articles 7, 25 and 26 of the Statute that there will be a transitional government only “once the usurpation of the Presidency of the Republic of Venezuela by Nicolás Maduro Moros has ceased”. And further down he ends: “Time is running out in favor of the dictatorship that applies the strategy of suffocating Guaidó, wearing down its very high popular support and using it as its greatest political weakness. Such great popular support is used by the dictatorship so that Guaidó does not have the real backing of the leaders of the political parties that say they are in opposition, because if he manages to withdraw the dictatorship and call elections, Guaidó could easily be elected and would be surpassing three generations of candidates that today are in control of the National Assembly” (I recommend reading Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, Transitional Government to end the dictatorship in Venezuela, in Spanish, in http://www.carlossanchezberzain.com/2019/03/11/gobierno-de-transicion-para-terminar-la-dictadura-en-venezuela/).
We have reiterated on several occasions the unconstitutionality of the aforementioned Statute for the Transition, which hijacks the constitutional powers of the President in favour of a coalition of parties. If Guaidó remains a prisoner of that Statute, it will be difficult for him to have his hands free to do what he has to do to leave Maduro definitively, since he has already been declared legitimate President as a fundamental first step, with all the support that the International Community and Venezuelans have given him.
If the National Assembly itself does not recognize Juan Guaidó with all the corresponding symbols of power and is prevented from forming a government immediately, the International Community will be bound by hands to act in favor of Venezuelans, preventing the Venezuelan people from deciding between tyranny and anarchy, or between despotism and war if necessary. That is why the National Assembly refuses to approve the authorization of Article 187.11 for the international military custody of Humanitarian Aid. The pettiness and ambition of the political leadership of the G4 parties is such that their leaders and candidates will first allow the opportunity to succeed in this new opposition cycle with Juan Guaidó and the Venezuelans at the head to be lost before giving in to their ambitions for power. That is criminal and must be denounced!
Venezuelans must demand that Guaidó finish being formally recognized by the deputies of the National Assembly as the Constitutional President in Charge of the Republic, as our constituents that they are, so that he proceeds to form a government and immediately summons Venezuelans to close ranks behind his leadership. I am sure that with this open opportunity, and before the very serious and exceptional situation of Venezuela, Venezuelans will demonstrate that they have no problem in deciding against tyranny and despotism, even if we have to fight a war to get out of anarchy.
Caracas, March 11, 2018
(1) Manuel Caballero, “Rómulo Betancourt, político de nación, ISBN: 978-980-354-246-7, Pág. 352-353, Caracas-Venezuela, Editorial Alfa, 2008.
(2) Francisco González Guinán, Historia Contemporánea de Venezuela, Tomo I, Prólogo, Págs. XIII-XIV, Ediciones de la Presidencia de la República, 1954.