Thursday, December 15, 2005

Venezuela and Subversive Democracy

While we are all focused on the imperialistic American War on Iraq, and rightly so, the “Ronald Reagan neo-liberal economic Iran/Contra” cabal in congress are still out to make Central and South America a U.S. political/economic “partner” and not the opposing economic model that is being presented. And the “new” model is presented by none other than that “master of disaster” for American Neo-Liberal economic policies that benefit only the “chosen” few, Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela.

This current administration (Cheney/Bush) and their partners in congress absolutely hate Chavez. The reason is simply due to the fact that Hugo Chavez, and the Bolivarian Revolution he has given a rebirth to, shows in no uncertain of terms, that there is a viable and workable alternative to U.S. Neo-Liberal economic policies. Policies that look past the “cost-benefit” analysis so favored by the neo-liberal corporatists in charge of the Washington, D.C. funny farm today.

After all, it is the very same neo-liberal economics at play by this nation around the world that are the very same economic policies at work in our own country. Welcome to the “New World Order” first articulated on Sept 11, 1991 by George H.W. Bush. Interesting date is it not?

If I had one wish that would be granted it would be this: that the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela would move up into this nation. -- Jack

Venezuela and subversive democracy

By Jesús Arboleya Cervera

In the belief that they had seized power, the Venezuelan putschists in April 2002 proceeded at once to dismantle the democratic system of that country.

They not only imprisoned President Hugo Chávez and persecuted his supporters but also dissolved Congress, abolished the Constitution and even reneged the Bolivarian nature of the republic. Evidently, that wasn't the kind of democracy they wanted.

Never mind that Chávez has won more elections than anyone else; the issue is not form but content. He is a "populist dictator" and the people have no right to impose a dictatorship on the oligarchy. Dictatorship is the patrimony of the oligarchy and, in the best of cases, democracy consists of packaging dictatorship in gift-wrapping paper.

The United States had to wait for Woodrow Wilson to define itself as a democracy, maybe out of realism or modesty. Until then, the leaders preferred to talk only about a republic. Nevertheless, although Theodore Roosevelt's language and sincerity regarding the expansionist project changed, democracy was much too uncomfortable.That didn't imply important changes in U.S. policy toward Latin America. Throughout the 20th Century, the United States promoted some of the most brutal dictatorships in the region's history, an attitude that intensified during the Cold War.

After the defeat of the Soviet Union, it appeared that the possibility of a "democratic era" had come to Latin America. No other power questioned the strength of the United States, and the disarray of the progressive forces was such that any capacity for resistance could be ruled out.The neoliberal state had weakened to the point that it didn't matter who won the elections, all the more when the social exclusion of broad sectors guaranteed in advance the nature of the majority of the voters.

To deal with the alienated mobs, governments utilized its forces of repression, which now could act in a manner more selective and discreet, eliminating the need to bear the infamous burden of the military dictatorships. It was the end of the story, and the U.S. could enjoy the luxury of promoting democracy, rather, this type of democracy.

The only variable that was not taken into account was the people. Neoliberalism consumes itself in the contradiction between the phenomenon it confronts and the dynamic it creates to settle the confrontation. In Latin America, this has translated into the spread of politico-social movements that are quite diverse but that also tend to interconnect thanks to the development of communications, which is another consequence of globalization.

Generated by very simple and localized complaints, these movements instinctively move toward the common goal of transforming the system, because the neoliberal model does not offer any alternatives for reform. In addition, there are no actors to implement such reforms, once the state loses its ability to act on the economy and its accompanying social reality. Whether joining the state in order to modify it, or acting against it, the politico-social movements in Latin America present a new political dynamic that is having an appreciable impact on the region.

Governments such as Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and, more recently, Uruguay were the result of popular pressures on the neoliberal state. When they tried to serve only as containment walls by joining the established powers -- as happened in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador -- they failed noisily and increased the radicalization of the popular movements and the lack of governability of their countries.Argentina and Brazil remain in an unstable equilibrium, thanks to their attempts to reform the system. But their political impact on the region tends increasingly to accentuate their contradictions with the global neoliberal system, affecting the imperialist bloc as a whole.

But in Venezuela, the scene of a growing radicalization of the original goals of Hugo Chávez's government, we are in the presence of a revolution that has tended to consolidate throughout the process.The government of the United States has exhausted its chances to deal with Chávez by siding with the discredited Venezuelan oligarchy. Several elections, plebiscites, management lockouts, coups d'état, and media campaigns have done nothing more than radicalize the process, strengthen Chávez and weaken the opposition forces.

All that's left is to delegitimize the democratic process and turn to armed violence. This is the obvious purpose of the withdrawal of the opposition from the parliamentary elections of Dec. 4 and the growing campaign to stress voter abstention.

The argument made by the Right is that they don't trust the voting machines and the U.S. government has declared that it, too, is worried about that situation and the high level of abstention because, in its view, both factors limit the legitimacy of the process.

This, from the Bush administration, sounds like a joke -- but it isn't. The voting machines in Florida are "democratic" because they serve the system -- even if they commit fraud -- while the Venezuelan machines belong to another democracy and therefore are not valid, even after Jimmy Carter, the Organization of American States and the European Union certified them, even if abstention is less than in previous parliamentary elections and maybe similar to the levels found in the U.S. As far as Bush is concerned, Chávez does not play fair with his fairness.

The paradox is that Venezuela's revolutionary forces stand to benefit from true democracy, because it guarantees the economic stability that fosters the social development of the richest country in Latin America and, with it, the articulation of popular consensus. Chávez does not need revolutionary violence, because he has already defeated the internal forces he needed to defeat; therefore, a direct confrontation with the United States is becoming increasingly evident.

However, Venezuela cannot be blockaded or politically isolated; the only tool left to destabilize the country is violence. It may be that, due to the war in Iraq, there are not enough Marines available to carry out a direct intervention, but everything points in the direction of increased terrorism, the use of paramilitary forces and attempted coups d'état, if the opposition manages to penetrate the Armed Forces.

The packaging of the dictatorship of oligarchy in Latin America, call it neoliberal democracy, has frayed much too quickly and Washington's "democratic era" has evaporated. Every day, democracy becomes more subversive, and evidently counter-insurgency will have to change its name to cope not with guerrillas but with voters.

Somehow, the United States will have to anoint its "good" terrorists, so it can again call them "freedom fighters."[Jesús Arboleya is a history professor at the University of Havana. He has written numerous books and essays on U.S.-Cuba relations and the Cuban-American far Right.]

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Additional Information:

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