Saturday, October 22, 2005

Oct 22/05 - Answers to concerns and accumulated questions....

PMBComments: I would like to thank those of you who have contacted me over the last days inquiring about my 13-day blog-silence. Rest assured all is fine. I was simply traveling in Venezuela with less than optimal access to Internet, and upon my return to the U.S. I have been flooded with all sorts of stuff, including the dizzying task of keeping up with what is going on in Venezuela and with Chávez’s blablabla while he travels the old Continent in Sheik-style. Thanks for the concerns…and keep in mind that, under normal circumstances, no news is usually good news.

Before proceeding with my postings, let me answer a number of questions that have been accumulating over the last few weeks:

  1. Q: Why write a Blog about Venezuela in English?

A: When I started leveraging on e-mail to disseminate information about Venezuela, I was trying to call the attention of a diverse group of geographically dispersed editors, policy makers, journalists, bureaucrats, academics, business folks and opinion makers or influencers. Back in 2002 – when I started mailing information to 100 or so individuals around the world - not that many people were concerned about Venezuela. Over time the interest grew and the distribution list broaden significantly to include many more that have come to care, sometimes quiet a lot, but who still do not speak Spanish. Therefore, I stuck to English. I know this leaves out many who do not speak English inside, and outside, Venezuela, but here I take my hat off to those inside Venezuela who assume the risk to continue to report and opine on the slippery road towards unabashed authoritarian rule.

  1. Q: Where do you stand politically?

A: I do not think anyone can be indifferent to the wanton destruction of one’s own country. I think all Venezuelans have a duty to fight against inept, corrupt, cynical, and ruinous governance. I understand that, first and foremost, many in Venezuela associate these traits with the past. And I cannot blame them because dereliction of duty and purposeless leadership preceded and explain Chavez’s rise quite well. What Lt. Col. Chávez failed to understand is that he embodies – like nothing or nobody else - a tragic involution, and as such has little to do with the solution of our systemic failings. His is the proof not the solution. As a matter of fact, I believe – and the numbers begin to bear this out – that every single crisis has aggravated. Our country is highly and dangerously polarized; the future is pretty bleak for almost every single Venezuelan; human rights have never been trampled upon like they are today in every nook and cranny in our society (more about this in my next post); corruption has never been practiced with such dexterity, in such scale and with so much impunity; and our affairs have never been at the mercy of foreigners like they are today. So yes, I think this government has to be brought down sooner rather than latter. But I am firmly behind the notion that you do not solve the problem by striking its consequence and ignoring it cause. Many who have grand designs for “our” future sans Chávez were key architects of our nation’s destruction; as a matter of fact they gave Hugo a leg up and provided him the tools for the ONLY thing he has done well - destroy the future for 25 million Venezuelans. Most Venezuelans know, factually or intuitively, who these characters are and they fear their cockroach-like resilience to such degree that one can state that Chávez is actually in power because he has been able to convince a majority of Venezuelans that the future without him is indeed a return to the past. It is this notion that I am willing to fight as hard as I fight this retrograde and ruinous pseudo revolution.

  1. Q: Don’t you think Venezuelans should be patient till they have the opportunity to vote Chávez out of office?

A: The problem is that if they are too patient and naïve they will not have elections to vote in. Let me state it unequivocally: Hugo Chávez will not leave the stage due to an electoral defeat! His Cubans handlers will not allow that after what happened in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Revolutions do not lose elections. Much less when they have become the lifeline of the longest and most brutal dictatorship in the Americas. I always poked fun at the “democratic, constitutional, peaceful and electoral” solution hapless former presidents Gaviria and Carter sought for Venezuela (it is indeed amazing to stop and admire the extent of their combined naiveté). Those who were on my list then will remember that I used to add “no-cholesterol and low calorie” to the list because if we must be wishful thinkers we might as well go for the big prize. Why hold back? The risk is that if we proceed down that path we would be ignoring the lessons of history. After running and ruining a country the way they have, jail is the only option under OUR laws for Chávez and his cronies. That, my dear friends, will trump any lingering desire to test luck and fate with fair and transparent elections. More so if they are reading the most recent polls.

  1. Q: In your opinion who can replace Chávez?

A: That is a veritable $64,000 question. My $1, knee-jerk, answer is that none of the people that have thrown their hat into the “electoral” (what elections?) ring will make it. The problem, at this late stage in the demise of a country and its institutions, is not one of competence or organization. Even assuming that these attributes were present (certainly not too obvious however hard Borges, Smith, Petkoff and a few others try), failed States always end up being pulled up from the ground by individuals that are endowed – one way or another – with tremendous moral authority. Degrees in Public Administration and prior experience are not as important as the ability to earn the people’s trust and patience. This type of figure do not self promote, they live earnest lives, they suffer unjust persecution and punishment. Furthermore, they do not see themselves as saviors, it’s the people who perceive, or come to perceive them, as such and are therefore willing to suspend judgment for enough time to allow them to assemble solutions around unassailable moral principles and broadly shared objectives. So, my real answer is: I have not idea who is next, but I think searching for him or her inside the ruins of the political infrastructure of Venezuela might be a fruitless task.