March 7, 2014
State of the nation and bleeding Venezuela
The situation that Maduro has to handle emerges as a risk for every president in the region
While both teacher unions and government officials put their heads down to discuss pay increases while nobody knows if classes will start on time next month, various other questions have been heating up Argentina’s already torrid summer. Such as the price mark-ups which have roused thousands of consumers to put a halt to the constant abuses, although in this part of the world it is impossible to rule out that price controls and appeals to the presumed virtues of a speculative business class will once again prove illusory.
The list of other issues combines both good and bad, according to your viewpoint. Unemployment fell to 6.4 percent but the major opposition dailies preferred to headline 2.5 million people having “difficulties” finding work.
On the other hand, the political opposition publicly threatened to stage a walkout in Congress next week when the president delivers her annual state-of-the-nation speech. Meanwhile the mayor of this always inflamed capital insists on the online school registration system entrusted to three crony companies at the price of 15 million pesos, which has left thousands of porteño kids out in the cold (or heat). To cover the vacancies, Mayor Mauricio Macri has devised metal and plaster containers in the corridors of some schools to serve as classrooms. Which has already been banned by a judge (Roberto Andrés Gallardo) as unsuitable and unhealthy.
In that context, that patchy judicial system we suffer once again showed itself to be split in two — those who want to reform a colonial system and those who would prevent anything from changing, thus preserving privileges, nepotism and those delays which always benefit their own friends, in contrast to the citizenry who work decently every day and only want to live in peace.
There can be no doubt that the republic faces dark days for justice in the highest spheres — especially when the Supreme Court “orders” state advertising to be assigned to a television channel, a decision which corresponds to the executive branch and not to the Court, regardless of the equally questionable government intentions when handing it out or withholding.
Such darkness lit up the week, which saw two Kirchnerite lawyers — deputy Eduardo “Wado” de Pedro and Senator Ada Iturrez de Cappellini (Santiago del Estero) — enter the hitherto useless Magistrates Council. But by way of compensation the Council is to be chaired by Alejandro Sánchez Freytes, a federal judge questioned by Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo for his slow and questionable handling of a human rights case of babysnatching in his native province of Córdoba while the deputy chairman is a lobbyist detested by all Kirchnerites — the Radical Ricardo Recondo.
And just to disconcert the government yet further, the media continue to give full play to the self-victimization of the prosecutor José María Campagnoli, suspended pending his impeachment. Idolized by the opposition press, he was even seen being used by a cable television channel in its crusade against Vice-President Amado Boudou.
Meanwhile Rosario continues to do its best to imitate the Medellín of the 1990s or the Ciudad Juárez of the past decade with daily slaughter. Some 35 members of a drug-trafficking gang called Los Monos (The Monkeys), including 13 policemen, are facing trial. Really scary, as is the virtual certainty of most citizens that they will soon all be free (if they are not already as this column is being written).
These never admitted national disgraces are what do so much harm to democratic institutions — and also allow us to understand better the crisis provoked by the opposition in Venezuela, where republican institutions are even weaker than here and where violence is embedded in both the most downtrodden and powerful sectors, if for very different reasons (if there can be “reasons” for violence).
In Venezuela it is evident that that the same old coupmongering impulses which are daily denied are emerging once again (both here and there) which inflame societies long in hock to media captivity with enervated middle classes and ferocious demagoguery — including those opposition leaders who accuse the governments of being demagogues. An all too familiar movie but what makes it even more serious is that some now want to display the Venezuelan tragedy as a trailer of what is supposedly “coming soon to a theatre near you.”
The basic question, which is as valid for Venezuela as it is for Argentina, is that the socio-economic changes of recent years — almost throughout this 21st century — have become intolerable for the powerful. That is why their “arguments” are of real and enormous weight — perfect cynicism, a media bombardment, an absolute lack of scruples, complete disinterest in the fate of the great majorities and life’s disinherited.
Venezuela is the key today because deep down for those powers, the obstacle to certain traditional voracious ambitions is unacceptable — the continuing rejection of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) as from 2005; the emergence of millions of outcasts who previously just died but now have education, public health, housing and some possibilities — and who now want more.
The power of the powerful can be bestial and it is showing its teeth with the destabilization of Venezuela. Over and above the clumsiness, corruption and incompetence of the government inspired by Hugo Chávez, what is at stake here is the enormous wealth of this lovable country and a democratic model which has triumphed in 18 out of 19 elections. That is why some fools speak of a “dictatorship.” And that is why when President Barack Obama asks for “peace to be restored” and speaks of the “unacceptable chaos in Venezuela,” it is valid to suspect (God forbid) that he could be pushing for the conversion of Caracas into the Baghdad of the Americas.
That is why the deplorable outburst of picket leader Luis D’Elía calling for the execution by firing-squad of the seditious Venezuelan Leopoldo López must be repudiated in Argentina. Such barbarity is only the other side of the same coin.
What is certain is that the CELAC Latin American economic community is unbearable for the real power — that which yearns to dictate once again the course of a Latin America which parted company with the neo-colonial script a decade ago. Because these Washington “advisers” are almost always ultrarightist Latin Americans, especially Cubans, Venezuelans, Chileans and Colombians ready for anything — people capable of filling their mouths with democratic discourse but who are disposed to any violent action if only to stop and reverse the incipient independence processes, however lukewarm, in what José Martí rightly called “Our America.”
You only have to see and hear the wild shouts of Leopoldo López to understand the degree of hatred, spite and fury which has been unleashed on Venezuela. That is why President Nicolás Maduro has called above all for the violence to be brought under control: “The orders are very clear — keep the peace, build peace, tame these crazy fascists within the law.”
Argentina’s absolute support for the Venezuelan government is thus consistent. Because what happens in Venezuela can happen anywhere. Here people always clamour for the truth all the time although in reality it does not interest those who have power, the real power, in their hands. Here too corruption is criticized without presenting any evidence and letting slip thousands of minor cases in which they themselves might be involved. As when from throughout the 1990s until 2003 they were silent accomplices of how economists and lobbyists were robbing the public assets of the Argentines in broad daylight.
The most serious and the most alarming is that they are now showing themselves capable of a violence which they did not need then. And for that they count on the foolish complacency of those who keep following them while denying any coupmongering. At least this column will continue to affirm that there is a coup hanging in the air and that only with good government, more democracy and more peace can it be stopped.