07 February 2012 ~ 0 Comentarios

Venezuela: Out! Out! Out!

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

Maria Corina

(THE MIAMI HERALD) María Corina Machado has written an open letter to Fidel Castro that has shaken cyberspace. I must have received 300 copies since it began to circulate through the Internet. It doesn’t go unread.

María Corina is a 45-year-old Venezuelan engineer, an expert in business matters, an anti-Chávez deputy, the mother of three and a candidate to lead her country’s democrats in the Feb. 12 primary elections, when the opposition will choose, from among five politicians, the single figure who will confront Chávez in the Oct. 7 elections — if he’s still alive by then.

Recently, Machado gained international notoriety when she interrupted and responded devastatingly to President Hugo Chávez’s marathon speech to the legislative assembly. Nevertheless, Henrique Capriles Radonski, the governor of Miranda state, remains at the head of all the polls I’ve seen, followed closely by Pablo Pérez, the young governor of Zuliá state.

Apropos the deputy’s intervention, Castro, in one of the articles he occasionally publishes under the title of Reflection s, entered the Venezuelan debate, attacking María Corina and defending his disciple, Chávez, from the accusation of “thief,” an impossible task, given the degree of corruption and impunity seen in the country.

Transparency International is an organization that measures the levels of corruption in the public sector worldwide. In its ranking of 176 countries, Venezuela occupies 164th place. It is the rottenest country in Latin America. Even more than Haiti (146), the second-most corrupt nation in the region. This ranking proves that the deputy is right and challenges President Chávez’s honor. If he doesn’t stop the corruption it’s because it would be his illegal way to exercise power; if he doesn’t prosecute it, it’s because he’s ignorant of its existence. Either way, it would be proof that he cannot continue to lead the country.

In any case, the Venezuelans’ enthusiasm over the deputy’s letter to Fidel Castro is not because of what she told Chávez, but because of what she tells “the Cubans.” María Corina reproaches the c omandante for the 110,000 barrels of oil that her country delivers to Cuba every day without any hope of collecting their value. She reminds him of the numerous fraudulent international sales to Venezuela, triangulated through Havana with no purpose other than to fill the Cuban coffers at the expense of the sacrifices of Venezuelan workers.

She condemns the crass interference of Cuba’s political police and army in its rich South American colony, but warns Fidel Castro that he mustn’t forget that, when in the past the Cuban regime infiltrated guerrillas and saboteurs into her country, the then-democratic governments and the National Armed Forces totally defeated those subversive attempts, something that will happen again in the future.

The warm popular reaction to the deputy’s letter demonstrates the Venezuelans’ deep disgust toward the type of colonial relationship established between Cuba and Venezuela by decision of Hugo Chávez, even against the opinion of many Chavistas who see those ties as humiliating and inexplicable.

It is the first time in history that a nation that’s richer, more powerful, bigger, more populous, developed and educated voluntarily subordinates itself to the orders and interests of another nation — poor, marginal and failed — that exploits it viciously.

And this is not a political perception by the opposition but a logical popular feeling, expressed in multiple ways. On YouTube there is, for anyone who wishes to see it, an amateur video recently made at Maiquetía Airport in Caracas that reflects that deep anti-Cuban feeling that is germinating in the hearts of Venezuelans.

It shows the angry reception given to a large Cuban delegation that arrived in Venezuela wearing T-shirts with the image of Che Guevara. Suddenly, spontaneously, a few Venezuelan employees, travelers and others — then dozens, later hundreds — began to shout “Out! Out! Out!” to the perplexity of the Cubans, who didn’t expect they would be greeted by shouts, with the fury shown by servants to their masters when the moment of liberation comes.

To Raúl Castro, the end of Chavismo , through either the lieutenant colonel’s demise or an unstoppable political defeat, will mean a dangerous economic and political misfortune. He can’t even rule out a kind of Caribbean Dunkirk boatlift, the urgent evacuation of tens of thousands of Cubans embedded in Venezuela’s public machinery who would have to be protected from the people’s ire.

If that happens, he knows that the Cubans will leave escorted by the visceral shout the Venezuelans have been practicing at the top of their lungs: “Out!”

Leave a Reply