Life in Venezuela under Hugo Chávez was no picnic, as the strongman dismantled democracy. But it is far worse today, under the successor chavista government.
Here is Rayma Suprani, a Venezuelan journalist and cartoonist: “It’s hard to believe, but Chávez kept some kind of order, some kind of balance. He had a big mouth, and a volatile personality, but there was less repression than now. Much, much less.” The new leaders “are truly dangerous — much more dangerous than Chávez.”
Why is that so? Rayma’s answer, in essence, is this: “You know the expression ‘to be more Catholic than the pope’? These guys have to prove they’re more chavista than Chávez.”
Rayma Suprani is barely able to work today, as Venezuela’s independent media have been shut down or bought out. She has received many death threats. Of course, she’s thinking about leaving the country, but that is not a simple matter. I have an interview with her today on the homepage.
I said to her, “It must be a strange experience to grow up in a free country, live in a free country, and then see it become unfree.” Yes, she said. “You realize that your country is disappearing around you, and you see how the faces of the people change with fear.”
Democracy, freedom, and constitutional government cannot be put on autopilot, it seems. They have to be fought for and defended all the time.