14 June 2014 ~ 0 Comentarios

Chavism takes off its mask

by Carlos Alberto Montaner

Leopoldo Lopez

Nicolás Maduro will not release Leopoldo López, despite the evident injustice. What’s more, it suits Maduro that Leopoldo be innocent. As Father Lenin taught, the key to obedience is fear, insecurity. It is the ominous certitude that the State can unleash its force whenever the political police decides, without the need for a prior violation of the law. What’s important is not the legality, that contemptible bourgeois minutia, but the revolution.

But there is much more.

Nicolás Maduro affirms that Deputy María Corina Machado is an assassin bent on killing him. The Attorney General, Mrs. Luisa Ortega Díaz, head of the star chamber that in Venezuela is known as the Judiciary, accused three opposition democrats of being her accomplices: former ambassador Diego Arria, the former director of PDVSA Pedro Burelli, and attorney Ricardo Koesling.

In that implausible plot, as predictable, also figures “the ugly American,” Kevin Whitaker, the sinister U.S. ambassador to Colombia.

Why and wherefore does Nicolás Maduro fabricate such a ridiculously false accusation?

Because in this situation, any opposition candidate would sweep Chavismo out in the elections. According to surveys, the opposition democrats hold 65 percent of the popular support, Chavismo 35. But, because they’re not going to hand over power, the Chavistas plan to disband the opposition, to exile it, as they did with Manuel Rosales, or to jail it, as they’re doing with the politicians who achieve some prominence, whether it is Leopoldo López or mayors Enzo Scarano and Daniel Ceballos.

The popularity of Chavismo is plummeting as a consequence of the huge economic chaos into which the Chavist chieftains have plunged Venezuela, and they desperately need to change the focus of the debate.

Maduro doesn’t want society to protest over the shortages, the inflation, the corruption, the unceasing wave of unpunished crimes — from 4,500 in 1999 to 21,692 in 2013, a 382-percent increase.  He wants to concentrate people’s attention on the phony assassination and criminalize any manifestation of unconformity. That’s what Cuba recommends and does: they repress in order to survive.

According to the National Institute of Statistics, since Maduro seized the reins in 2013, the number of poor homes rose by 416,326 — a 30-percent increase. In 1999, there were 6.4 million poor; today, there are 9 million. And all this happens amid a bonanza created by the constant inflow of petrodollars.

In the 15 years of Chavismo, beginning in 1999, the country has received more hard cash as a consequence of the price of oil than ever before in its history since it gained independence from Spain in 1823.

How has this catastrophe been possible? Because bureaucracy and public spending grew exponentially. During Chavismo, the number of public employees rose from 900,000 to 2.3 million, a 156-percent increase. PDVSA’s payroll rose from 40,000 employees to 120,000, while its productivity — barrels per employees — dropped from 75 to 18, and the company’s debt went from $6 billion to $40 billion.

Because they have irresponsibly misspent the country’s resources, to which is added the incredible corruption propitiated by the government and the “Bolibourgeoisie.” According to Jorge Giordani, until recently the minister of Planning, $20 billion vanished from SITME, an agency that assigned hard currency.

Accumulated inflation is 933 percent. Cuba costs Venezuela more than $13 billion a year, but after you add the rest of the ALBA oil-suckers and the cash-filled briefcases couriered to the Kirchner clan, plus all the influence purchases worldwide, that figure could very well double.

Why go on? The Chavistas accomplished the astounding “feat” of bankrupting Venezuela. The country no longer has any credit, much less foreign capital. Who invests in a collectivist madhouse without law or justice, where the Judiciary is a branch of the political police?

They nationalized dozens of companies that were profitable until the government seized and ruined them. They took over more than 600 fincas [large farms], which caused the destruction of the productive apparatus. Before Chávez, Venezuela imported 37 percent of all its food; under Maduro, that figure is up to 78 percent.

Venezuela long ago ceased to be a democratic republic. It quickly became a corrupted  “soft” dictatorship. Every passing day, it grows closer to a rotten dictatorship, pure and hard, that stays in power by force of truncheons. They are now removing their masks. It is sad, but just as bad is the complicit silence of Latin America. Shameful.

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