By Rafael Ramírez Carreño
Posted May 04th, 2019
NO SURPRISES, MANY DOUBTS, AND SOME QUESTIONS
Maduro’s government has not only plunged the country into the worst crisis in its history, but it has also closed any political gateway to rectify its errors or to allow the people to express themselves through the different avenues provided in our Constitution.
It first lashed out against the Chavismo, chasing it, cornering it, imprisoning anyone who showed dissent about its actions or voiced criticism, regardless of how constructive, burying with its arrogance and imperiousness the psuv, the participatory and protagonist democracy, the always healthy exercise of criticism and self-criticism, and the practice of accountability. We have said it so many times and the answer has always been plagued with violence.
It did the same thing to the sectors of the country’s traditional opposition: it chased them, imprisoned them, and disabled them. Many lives have been taken due to its violent and unreasonable response. An intolerant, authoritarian and deeply anti-democratic government has taken over. The country is suffocated; those who can, leave; some others have resigned themselves to live in chaos; while others try to survive in a constant state of unusual things, mired in the deterioration of their living conditions and their political rights, a scenario impossible to fathom only six years ago.
Authoritarianism, violence, and government abuses have opened the door to grueling outcomes in the country, from the State’s dysfunction to a dangerous confrontation among brothers or even to open military conflict.
It is in the framework of the possible grueling outcomes in the country that the events of last April 30th cannot but be deemed a new adventure of the Venezuelan far right. First and foremost, it is necessary to underscore, in order to avoid beating about the bushes, that it was an attempted coup. The extremist sectors of the Venezuelan opposition have tended in the last 20 years to evade or whitewash the nature of their actions. This was the case of April 11th, 2002, when they denied carrying out a coup d’état and talked about a “power vacuum”; or when they considered the oil sabotage of December 2002 an act carried out by the “civil society”. They are now labeling this new attempt of April 30th, 2019, as “operation freedom”. The adventure, the lie, the evasion of responsibilities have always defined the actions of these power groups, which are the same ones of the coup of April 2002, but now reduced to its most intolerant and violent expression.
Neither they nor their promoters seem to understand that coup d’états are not part of our political culture, at least from the majority, and that, despite the disastrous situation that we have been dragged to by the madurismo, we are not going to regress to the April 2002 coup or to fall into the abyss to bring us back to the IV Republic and its ghosts.
The photo of a Guaidó alone, at dawn, with Leopoldo López in the background in a defiant attitude, a sort of “Avenger” surrounded by a few members of the National Guard, who announced an impending uprising of the military forces in the country, speaks for itself: it was a military attempt of his political party, where his boss, in case anyone still had doubts of who he was, would be at the frontline. For those of us who are familiar with the pro-Chávez military world, with the reality of our forces, one where it is the military who defines any situation in the country, in addition to political logic, we realized straight away that this was nothing but another dangerous adventure, very typical of this group.
Immediately after, I received and exchanged phone calls with friends and pro-Chávez officers who affirmed that, despite the widespread annoyance at maduro, the situation in the country, and that of the military institution itself, no one, or at least very few, would be willing to join a movement headed by Leopoldo López and his extremist party.
The almost immediate response via tweets of political leaders and presidents from other countries, calling for the Venezuelan citizens to take to the streets to support the attempt not only represented an open, blatant and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs, but also made it clear, in case of doubts, the close relationship between the most intolerant political groups in Venezuela, Florida, Colombia, and Brazil. This link between actions and purposes, far from favoring the opposition groups, blurs them and strips them off any national and independent character, even if that is something of their pretension or concern. In any case, it triggers a great deal of rejection among the majority of the Venezuelan people, and particularly within the Bolivarian Armed Forces and the pro-Chávez people.
The situation was clearer later that day after finding out, with images that were released on the media, that the leaders of the attempt were never inside the Military Base of “La Carlota”, as they made believe. They were actually outside, on the bridge of the “Altamira interchange”. For the international observers and political leaders with whom we talked, it was rather incredible that someone was trying to engage in military action from the bridge of a highway. The image was pathetic: alone, surrounded by a very few members of the National Guard who had already begun to leave them, and the presence of only some civilians. The visit and hugs of some opposition leaders, congratulating them, were fast, fleeting. The faces of the promoters showed consternation. To add to this, an arrogant López was shown instructing a National Guard officer how to properly place a machine gun, then, the surrealistic image of a banana bunch next to the killing machine. Immediately after, a shooting happened, in which those on the interchange repelled the National Guards who approached by motorcycle, seriously injuring an officer.
A few moments later, the usual violent sectors reached the “command point”, those who had heard their call to violence, to the habitual guarimba, always with the same intentions and results. Most of the armed officers had deserted the “coup command” or had already been arrested. The promoters, as always, had already left the site.
Later that day, the leaders of the attempt were seen on a “march” to the center of the city. Once again, their faces reminded us of the sad events of April 11th and 12th, 2002, where the eyes of the same political sectors, widened by hatred and revenge, exalted, filled with triumphant joy during those hours of “Carmona the Brief”, chased and captured, in the midst of shouts and turmoil, pro-Chávez ministers or political leaders (including the prosecutor who today does the same, and is silent about maduro’s Human Rights violations)
But this time, unlike April 11th, 2002, they did not have soldiers, people or targets. They were lost. The group of armed men that paraded through Chacao was incapable of even walking by the corner of the Ministry of People’s Power for Transport, from where groups of armed civilians emerged to quickly disperse them. Afterward, it was reported that Leopoldo López took refuge in the residence of the Chilean ambassador, but he left because there were already too many “guests”. Later that day, it was learned that he finally stayed at the residence of the Spanish ambassador as a “guest”. This ended, with a sense of pathetic improvisation, such dangerous adventure.
It is not a surprise for anyone that this military attempt has failed because it was plagued with errors in its conception and execution. I have said it and I repeat it again: to change the current political situation in the country, to depose maduro from power, to restore the Constitution, return sovereignty to the people and begin the reconstruction of the country, we must count on the Chavismo as a political and social bloc. We must count on all the patriotic, progressive, revolutionary sectors, including the opposition; and, of course, on the military.
The last attempt was an isolated, sectarian action carried out by the party voluntad popular, which left aside all sectors of the country, including the other opposition factors that, in the end, joined them after finding out about the developments.
It happened again as it did on January 23rd when Guaidó proclaimed himself “interim president”. The faces of the two vice-presidents of the National Assembly were a real sight to watch, they showed surprise, that of someone who has just found out about it, to the point that they did not even raise their hands in approval. Just like now, they were not present during the pronouncement made at the interchange, they only stopped by to “say hello” and to engage in an embrace that can cost Zambrano dearly (hopefully it will not, but it seems that they are going to take on him all that they do not dare to do to Guaidó). Conversely, nothing will happen to the other guy because he is one of the “buddies” of madurismo, his brother-in-law continues to engage in “trading” for Manuel Quevedo’s PDVSA. Some other well-known opposition leaders were completely in the dark or they kept the silence of those not joining them in this adventure.
It is evident that voluntad popular is the political element that enjoys the political and economic support of foreign promoters. They are the ones that pay and play music. That is the reason why they control the political direction of the opposition, even if they are out of tune or are wrong again and again; they are the ones that lead this sector to one error after another, to mistake after mistake. They are those who cry out for a foreign invasion or a violent outcome. They have promised the looting of the country, among other things that they have and will be incapable to deliver.
Maduro is still in power largely thanks to the mistakes made by the opposition, whose intolerance and thirst for revenge render them unable to think. They will continue clashing once and again with this reality, basically due to two fundamental errors:
1) It is difficult that the Bolivarian Armed Forces and the Chavismo, as a social and political bloc, support a movement whose scope is to hand over power to Leopoldo López, voluntad popular or the far right, those who have been promising revenge and retaliation against Chavismo; the same who hate the people, Chávez and his legacy; those who are subordinate to foreign powers.
2) It is a major mistake to think that Chavismo and madurismo are one and the same thing. One thing is the Chavismo, bolivarianismo, with its patriotic, mobilizing, inclusive, protagonist, revolutionary force, its love and hope in the hearts of the humble; and a very different one is the madurismo: chaotic, improvised, treacherous, incompetent, sellout, corrupt, and indolent before the suffering of the people. When we are lumped together, maduro rides on Chávez’s name, stirring up fear, hunger, necessities, blackmailing, using the survival instinct against the hatred of the far right.
The involvement of Major General Christopher Figuera casts doubts on the situation within the Army. I have known Christopher long before the beginning of his military career. We met again in the government with President Chávez. I believe he is an honorable man, a patriot, pro- Chávez, and Bolivarian, someone who has been placed in a very important position of the State security but surely led to an untenable position that ran against his principles. I hope he is in a safe place and that he can speak out to the people.
All the hyenas are now out there discrediting him, I am sure that further arrests and persecutions are yet to happen. To me, all the officers of the Bolivarian Army deserve respect, I am sorry to see them vilified or subdued by politicians that cannot fill the boots of Commander in Chief.
The declarations and public information on the involvement of some leaders of madurismo in the attempt to raise serious doubts regarding the circle of power that surrounds maduro, particularly in the civil sphere. And just as I insist that most of the military sector is pro-Chávez and Bolivarian and has my full respect, I know, and it causes me repulsion, the corrupt circle that closely surrounds maduro.
Maduro, in order to “purge” the Chavismo from the government, and to persecute and destroy the work of President Chávez, surrounded himself precisely with people that Commander Chávez himself had cast aside and had removed from the government at the time. We all know them, and so does maduro. That is why he brought them back, placing them in very high-responsibility positions within the government and the State institutions. These are incompetent, off-balanced, unprincipled, unethical individuals that swore allegiance to maduro and fill him with praise and flattery. Their resentment against Chávez ran so deep, even if they deny it, that they willingly went along with the formula “whatever maduro says”. Likewise, maduro surrounded himself, and gave too much power to his own group, individuals that were in hiding, whom president Chávez kept at bay from power: politicians, lawmakers, businessmen, military officers, adventurers, former ministers that requested to be placed in embassies, or those that the Commander himself had to remove from his office; as well as some others that left their positions and went away because they “were sick”. And, of course, the economic agents of the madurismo and its inner circle, lots of his relatives, who now became “top entrepreneurs” of the media, of the oil sector; suppliers of all kinds of products to the government, from the Clap boxes to gasoline and diesel no longer produced by PDVSA. These are the ones now in control of the State companies, with the “oil service contracts”, the “financial experts”, importers, currency speculators. It is rare to find their names in the jungle of social networks because they have all the money in the world to pay for their “image”, to “lobby”, and because the prosecutor, sad poet, does not even think of mentioning them. They give money to everyone, madurismo and “opposition” to keep themselves safe and in the shadows. These are the “partners” of maduro and the madurismo, including some strange characters, who, as “spiritual guides” of their sect, are involved in every business dealing and decision made in his inner circle.
Any of these individuals will betray maduro. The foreign powers and their intelligence agencies know that they lack principles, loyalty, and ideological coherence; they will sell themselves to the “highest bidder”. Each one of them has been touched: their interests, their illicit dealings, their business networks, their properties in the United States or Europe, their records, files, their chances to leave the country. It is a matter of time for these gentlemen to leave maduro alone because their ethics work for any political purpose or in favor of any power group.
This may explain the prolonged absence and silence of maduro and his innermost circle during a good part of the day. The only ones that stuck up for the government were Diosdado and Padrino López. In the meantime, maduro remained silent while in Fuerte Tiuna the military preparations for his personal protection were reinforced and his first security detachment received instructions from abroad.
If my much-respected General Alberto Müller Rojas said in 2007 that President Chávez was “standing on a nest of scorpions”, a rather harsh expression to which the madurismo would, unfortunately, prove right years later, we can say today that maduro is surrounded by snakes that have swallowed this revolution, as Silvio would say. At any time he will be betrayed, they do not care about him.
How much longer will our country continue to be exposed, suffering, in this logic of the «annihilation of the opposite» of two extremist and intolerant groups that will do anything: some to maintain power and some to take control of it?
How much longer will the rest of the Chavismo in the government, in the Army, or in PSUV continue to support maduro and his circle of power?
How much longer will Diosdado and Padrino López continue to stand up for this man, protecting his interests, supporting the destruction of the Bolivarian project and handing over the country?
How much longer will the progressive, revolutionary, patriotic sectors continue to remain silent, subordinated to this erratic leadership of the government and the destruction of the Bolivarian Revolution, to this claudication of the principles?
How much longer will the advanced, progressive or nationalist sectors of the Venezuelan opposition remain subordinated to the leadership of the most sectarian and intolerant sector of their political spectrum?
How much longer will Leopoldo López and his interest group continue to insist on taking power, at whatever cost, whatever happens?
Is it not clear that these groups are only moved by their own interests of power, their own economic groups, that there are neither national interests nor the purpose of agreeing on anything?
Most of the country, the people, the citizens are tired of the permanent conflict of maduro and the madurismo, the adventures of the far right, the foreign interference, the deterioration of the economic, political, and social situation. We are at the end of the world, we are once again the field of dispute for international interests, others are deciding for us. We have a shattered country, one from which the young people flee in any way they can, a country where one cannot live.
There is no more time, maduro’s time is up and so is the opposition’s. The country is suffering, all Venezuelans, which are the majority, are tired of the hatred, the threats, the uncertainty, the fear, the standstill, the hopelessness. The political and military forces need to reach an agreement to allow us to reestablish the Constitution and our Homeland Plan to exist as Bolivarian people. To be once again a country, a nation, with institutions, laws, social justice, sovereignty. It is pressing to reach the unity of the patriots, the civil-military union, a Patriotic Governing Board that allows us to reestablish sovereignty in the hands of the people. Should we fail to do so, one of these days we will wake up, and there will be no time.