21 February 2012 ~ 1 Comentario

The Republic vs. Chávez

by Carlos Alberto Montaner


(THE MIAMI HERALD) You multiply it by 2.5 or 3 — depending on whom you ask. That’s how you usually translate the votes from the primaries into the final election results. Electoral experts insist that the three million votes obtained by Henrique Capriles in the Venezuelan primaries could bring him between 7.5 and nine million votes in the balloting against Hugo Chávez. Enough to remove him from power.

“Eight and a half is a reasonable prediction,” Joaquín Pérez Rodríguez, one of the most knowledgeable people in the subject, told me. Then he added: “It will depend on many factors, inasmuch as more than seven months remain until the Oct. 7 balloting, but if the elections were held next week, and if there was no cheating, with the degree of enthusiasm now observed in the opposition, especially among the young, Chávez would be clearly defeated.”

The Democratic Unity Board , led by Ramón Guillardo Aveledo, a former Christian Democratic president of Congress, forged a miraculous agreement among the various leaders who aspired to power, so a single candidate could be put forth.

To do so, he set three conditions: He would aspire to no post and accept nothing for the service he’d render; also the entire process should be fair and transparent. Nothing but “fair play,” as the Americans say.

Today, that immaculate behavior is being studied by Ecuadoreans, Nicaraguans and Bolivians looking for a formula to enable them to put a peaceful end to the collectivist neopopulism of the so-called 21st-century socialism.

After Capriles’ victory by more than 60 percent of the votes, at the ceremony that invested him as the candidate, Aveledo opened his speech with the wise phrase uttered 200 years ago by patrician José Félix Ribas: “What’s needed is victory! Long live the Republic!” Well elected, that is.

Capriles is not the candidate of the Third, the Fourth or the Fifth Republic. He is the candidate of the republic, period. The republic that separates its powers to protect individual rights and freedoms. The one whose authority is limited by a sober constitution. The one where everyone is subordinated to the rule of law. The one whose elected or appointed officials admit that they are public servants under a mandate from the sovereign people. The one that treats adversaries with respect and by the rules of civic cordiality. The one that requires alternation in government, because the opposition-vs.-power game can produce a gradual and constant improvement in the quality of the state.

That is a republic. That is the institutional design that Hugo Chávez trampled on until he pulverized it. That’s the spirit that Henrique Capriles today intends to rescue as the head of his country’s democrats. And that is exactly the choice being offered: either republicanism or a populist strongman rule. That, of course, was the ideal of Bolívar, Miranda, Martí, Juárez, Alfaro and the rest of the great Latin American heroes.

With more than enough reasons, some people think that the narco-generals will not let Chávez lose the elections and surrender power.

One of them, Defense Minister Henry Rangel Silva, has warned of that. But in the army there are many officers who are not narco-generals and see no reason to be dragged into the abyss to protect a chief who, as the U.S. claims, has stained his uniform.

Other analysts fear that the Cuban government, totally dependent on the Venezuelan subsidies and dirty businesses, will not let its extremely rich oil colony slip through its fingers and will use its enormous capacity for intrigue to institute “active measures” that will guarantee Havana that Caracas is ruled by a puppet government, with or without Chávez.

Havana will probably attempt it, but in the real world — no matter what Raúl Castro’s communist intelligence apparatus might do, a miserable political structure like Cuba’s will never control the fate of a society that’s one hundred times richer and more complex than the island’s.

Finally, there’s the possibility that, by the October elections, Chávez will be severely weakened or killed by the dangerous cancer he’s suffering. In that case, Chavismo will try to find a substitute candidate and postpone the elections at once. If the opposition and the millions of people who back it remain firm, and if it continues to speak with a single voice — Henrique Capriles’ — nobody will be able to stop the democratic will from imposing itself.

One Response to “The Republic vs. Chávez”

  1. Felipe JORGE 21 February 2012 at 4:25 pm Permalink

    Lo que me pregunto es, porqué la Derecha y el Centro Democrático Venezolano, permitieron en su día ésto, porqué le dieron tanta ventaja al iluminado, analfabeto y peligrosisimo faltón ..
    Lleva años engordando la maquinaria de su amplia guardia pretoriana, acaso piensa alguien de que va a entregar el poder así como así¿?..

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