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The Death of Venezuela's Solitarian Revolution

By Gustavo Coronel

December 21, 2003. After five years of misgovernment by Hugo Chávez and of his ambitious plan to install a Cuban style authoritarian regime in our country, it seems clear that his revolution is dead. Although the President is still in power and in control of important segments of the government, his original objective of a continental bolivarian revolution now resembles a plane without fuel, stalling in mid-air, starting to glide down to earth. There are several important reasons for the failure of this political adventure. The first is the fact that the pretended revolution was not so much based on doing something good for a segment of our society as it was based on hate and resentment against other segments of our society. It was not a revolution of positives but a revolution of negatives. The second reason is that, as it happens in most authoritarian regimes, this one has depended almost exclusively on the wild improvisations of one individual and never on a well-structured plan or government program. The third reason is that it never went beyond the purely political stage of antagonizing opponents, in order to tackle the real social and economic problems of the country. In fact, Venezuelans are today poorer and more depressed as a society than ever before in our history, at least since the first days of the loss of our first republic, way back in 1814.

These and other reasons have created a strong popular reaction against the Chávez government. After winning the presidential elections, the President started to engage in multiple confrontations with important sectors of society, those sectors without which cooperation a country can not hope to function: industry, commerce, church, media, private banking, universities, civil society organizations and political parties. His language was and remains not only aggressive within acceptable limits but openly abusive, unbecoming of any public figure, much less the President of the country. As time went by, he became more associated with authoritarian figures such as Castro, Hussein and Gaddaffi than with democratic leaders of the civilized world. We became convinced that he was not trying to lead the country into a twenty first century of progress and modernity but to align it with some of the most despicable political regimes in the planet. When his extremist international posture and his ineptness to improve internal conditions became evident, our opposition became stronger, more militant and better organized. The popular march of April 11, 2002, the spontaneous protest that took place that day in Caracas and other cities of the country, made him to resort to force. As a result of his criminal initiative to implement the military “Avila” plan, which would use the military against the people, his top army officers rebelled and forced his resignation. Although he was put back in power by other segments of the armed forces, his regime emerged extremely weakened from this event. He has never recovered from this jolt to his popular strength and to his self-esteem.

As his revolution evaporated within the country he began to spend millions of dollars trying to promote himself as a new Manco Capac or as the successor to Fidel Castro in the hemisphere and, indeed, all over the world. He enlisted a group of intellectual guns of varying quality, including Norberto Ceresole, now dead, Ignacio Ramonet, Marta Harnecker, Greg Palast, Michael Lebovitz and others, in order to preach his gospel. This has been a common strategy among strongmen such as Sukarno in Indonesia, Amin in Uganda, Mugabe in Zimbabwe and, of course, Castro in Cuba. A dishonest film: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” which presents an idealized version of the April 2002 Venezuelan events, has been showing all over the world, financed by Venezuelan embassies with our money. It has been showing in Bethesda, Maryland, getting favorable reviews from local and candid reporters who have never bothered to find out what is really going on in our country. Petroleum money is being spent by Chávez with abandon in his attempt at gaining international credibility but the tide of international public opinion has been turning against him, as he departs from democratic ways in order to cling to power.

I think that we Venezuelans can be proud of the manner we have reacted against the attempts of Chávez to establish an authoritarian regime in the country. Slowly, systematically, patiently, the people of Venezuela have been reducing the capacity for maneuver of the Chávez government. In boxing terms, he is now against the ropes, receiving much punishment from the democratic opposition. He is still swinging wildly at us, hoping for a lucky punch. We have to keep very alert because a cornered beast can be very dangerous. It looks evident that while the tiger is now largely toothless is not yet clawless. He is now openly indecent, as when he replays a private telephone conversation in his TV show. The President of Venezuela breaking the law over national television!

What will come next?

© 2003 Gustavo Coronel


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