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Venezuela: What does the opposition opposes?

Milagros Socorro, El Nacional, April 1, 2004

Comment and translation by Daniel Duquenal - I was stalling some on my last installment describing the political scenery for the coming regional elections of August 1. After having addressed the general situation, the electoral traps and the chavista camp, what was left was to assess the opposition situation. I am rather disgusted by many things going on there. But while I am finishing to sort out my thoughts, there is today a wonderful article by Milagros Socorro. Again I am translating her! And almost on the spot as her article published today reflects so well the disgust that many of us have at how the opposition is organizing itself to face chavismo. I hope by Saturday to provide the information to fill in the blanks that the non Venezuelan reader might have after reading this stupendous opinion piece.

In the course of a human life there are few opportunities to demonstrate of what one is made of. Of course, the usual conduct, every day acts, sticking to principles whichever the outside conditions are can attest to the character of each one. But those circumstances where the individual must rise above its fears, above its doubts, its personal convenience and even its fanaticism, to undertake a telling action that will frame him and reveal the true mettle of his spiritual essence, these are few. This is why we must be so alert to detect which is the hour that will require our courage, our righteous spirit, our democratic allegiance, concern toward the prosecuted, inclination to the truth, because the moment might never come again and the irresolute might have lost its only chance to rise above mediocrity and villainy.

Many intellectuals, professionals and politicians that have chosen silence and consent in front of the assassinations, tortures and illegal arrests of the Hugo Chavez regime have let escape the grand moment that called for them. They preferred to blame the victims, to sacrifice them again, to give excuses to the torturer, all but step forward and condemn crimes that neither now nor ever they will be able to justify. They were on the pier of the train on which the just climbed and they let it go. They think that they can keep feeding from the power and that further ahead when they will see the ending of those that area victimizing their compatriots, they will be able to climb on the car and pretend that they were unaware or deceived. It will not be so, however, because there are rare the moments in the life of a man, a woman, to give a sign of their true nature.

The Venezuelan opposition was in the duty to demonstrate to the world its integrity and virtuousness when it plucked from its files those that would be its candidates to the regional elections of August first. The elaboration of that list was an extraordinary opportunity, and irreproducible, to put forth the will of the Venezuelan opposition to sweep from all strata of power corruption, mediocrity, petty thievery, the shamelessness, the autocratic drive that leads the strong one to do as he pleases with the property and the institutions of the nation without answering to no one, and when all is said, all that condemns Chavez and his accomplices, all that we want to extirpate from politics in Venezuela. This seems to me obvious, at the very least: the candidates of the opposition in this and in any electoral contest should be the best of every establishment, the more honest Venezuelans, the best prepared ones, the most efficient, those of most transparent acts, in other words the contrary to what now rules over us and that that we supposedly oppose.

Instead, and to put forth the most scandalous example, the Coordinadora Democratica supports Morel Rodriguez, upon who rest all sorts of suspicions except the one that would suggest his probity, for the governor seat of Nueva Esparta. What do they reproach, thus, to the second fiddles and Chavez entourage that with full hands and without shame steal the monies of the nation? What did Venezuelans march for? Is it for that that they signed, and resigned and I am sure will reresign as long as the Recall Election finally comes? Is this why the fallen put forth their chests and that the tortured were abashed? So that Morel Rodriguez returns to the state house of Margarita, in addition with the tremendous halo of being returned with the support of the Venezuelan democratic coalition? What gives?

A quick survey of the names of the candidates to compete for the governor seats of the 25 states puts in front of us a very grave question: What does the opposition opposes? The majority of us wanted to believe that the ensemble of the forces that oppose Chavez, even though they might have committed major faults, and would have allowed themselves unforgivable blunders, had, at the very least, the determination to lose any link to all that was stained with doubt and, furthermore, to all that bore suspicions of fraudulent deals. This is the obligation of the opposition and the Coordinadora Democratica. We, the Venezuelans from all sides and all ideologies, we have earned that respect. And we are in the mood to demand that such an engagement is honored.

How is it possible that the Coordinadora Democratica will surprise us oozing in its lists men like Mariano Navarro, quite often the target of grave accusations when he was Lara governor, a position he aims at returning to without having demonstrated that the accusations lacked any foundation? On what account the Coordinadora Democratica throws its support behind Antonio Rojas Suarez, whose incidents in the administration of Bolivar State are well known? Have we walked all the way here to learn with crossed arms that the Coordinadora Democratica is blessing questioned figures? What is thus the mental backbone of the opposition? What does it really opposes? What can they say of the chavista shenanigans if they support candidates accused of shadowy deals? Where is the difference?

How can they dare to confront in such a way so many compatriots who have been waiting for a sign from the Coordinadora to hit the streets to protest, to expose their lives, to close their businesses and risk, perhaps permanently, their livinghood? One has to be contemptuous to face the country and ask to have Chavez removed while aiming to give power to those who with almost the same extent have demonstrated that they are not worthy of it, that they will not serve well their regions and who have already exhibited condemnable actions. They give the impression that they want to get rid of Chavez not to install a government of justice and clean administration, but to ride his airplane, to fatten themselves at the expense of the national banquet and place, as he does, their buddies to positions that they do not qualify to.

And may they not come with the cheap argument that there is a need to support candidates with electoral options because they have a good chance to win, even though they are a far cry from the ideal ruler for which Venezuelans are fighting for. This is not about beating Chavez. It is about defeating all that he incarnates: authoritarianism, corruption, treachery, illegal repression of citizens, militarism, grabbing of institutions, the clamping to power of a gang called the governmental party, illegality, mediocrity, the monarchy of the executive, that lack of accounting, cynicism... the old immoral practices. We could have hoped that the opposition was clear on this respect. We can see that it is not the case.

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