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VENEZUELANS ON DEMOCRACY AND HUGO CHAVEZ



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I’ve translated this passage from a powerful op-ed (“Governmental Alternability“) by the Venezuelan writer Cira Romero in El Universal , perhaps the most important independent newspaper in Venezuela. She talks about regular alternations of power as fundamental in a democracy. Worried that Chavez has set himself up for indefinite reelections, she quotes his hero Simon Bolivar:

“Nothing is as dangerous as letting the same one citizen stay in Power a long time. The people grow accustomed to obeying him, and he, to ruling them, from which arises usurpation and tyranny.” (Address to the Angosture Congress, 15 fe. 1819)

When I hear Mr. President talk about his indefinite reelection, in an absolute replica of what has been established by Castro in his nepotistic Cuban dictatorship, I ask myself: What democracy are we talking about? What Boliviarian Republic is this? Is Bolivar just the trump card I use only when it’s convenient?
The Dream of Miraflores [Miraflores is the presidential palace] consists in exercising the presidency of the Republic with a democratic facade and imperial execution, without controls, without laws, flying on a magic carpet called the presidential airplane, not only for official functions, but also to visit my friends whenever I feel like it, with submissive government cabinets consisting principally of “yes man”, ordering the approval of laws, judicial decisions, policies; pontificating and intervening in the internal affairs of other countries; using public funds for caprices with neither restraint nor accounting — who [we are to believe] would peacefully and democratically accept a succession? Only a truly democratic society can put an end to a status quo such as this.



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