Stop chasing red herrings

Stop chasing red herrings

In a country such as Venezuela, where democracy is in its death throes, the democratic factors should not waste their energy on analyzing the gossip about Chávez and Obama at the Americas Summit. After all, a handshake and a photograph of the presidents of the United States and Venezuela for the benefit of the press will hardly change the icy relations between the two countries.

The fight for democracy demands focusing attention on core issues, not on following Chávez’s latest antics with the media.

The crucial issue for Venezuelans is to use every possible means to face up to the advance of communism that the government is imposing via decrees and laws, while maintaining a democratic facade.

At the moment, after the public dressing down Chávez gave them a couple of weeks ago, the parliamentarians are churning out socialist laws wholesale.

Among the laws on a wide variety of subjects currently being “debated” in the National Assembly is the preliminary Social Property bill, which would finally divest private property of its status as a constitutional right.
One of the “gems” contemplated in this bill is the possibility of declaring any good or productive activity that, according to the criterion of the person governing, “is not aimed at meeting the real needs of the population or is not in line with national interests and the socio-productive model” to be “social property.” Another “revolutionary” bill currently being “debated” is the Land Use and Planning bill, which will do away, once and for all, with decentralization and the right of citizens to be governed by their elected regional authorities. Now, it will be Chávez who will appoint these heads of government, at his discretion.

Another key element in this fight for democracy is the need to prevent the freedom of expression and the right to information from being finally curtailed. The government has recently renewed its attacks on the media and it intends to paint Globovisión into a corner, not only with millionaire fines but also with the threat of an imminent 72-hour closedown, which has apparently been approved by Conatel as an administrative sanction for allegedly having released results of last year’s November 28 elections before the official announcement. This would be a first step towards taking the station off the air for good.

The third element that must not be neglected is the politicization of justice and the submitting of matters political to judicial processes, a strategy that is being used to coerce all political dissidence. One of the latest steps taken by the government along this path is the “trial” of former Governor of Zulia and present Mayor of Maracaibo Manuel Rosales, where the court has already taken a decision even before hearing the defense’s arguments, according to Podemos Deputy Ismael García. The government has put Rosales between a rock and a hard place, as it has done with other leaders in the past: either he submits to the vaudeville of spurious “justice” to end up in prison or being barred from holding elected office for ten years or longer or he goes into exile, which would also mean the end of his political career.

That said, as far as the population is concerned, what is truly crucial in this fight for democracy is that they shake off the fear Chávez has instilled in them with his threats and go out in defense of democratic values.

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