By Miguel Lagos:
Castroism and Chavism have been true innovators of contentious politics and “tyranology.”
Before the naïve and the accomplices they skillfully interspersed -among many other factors- “dialogues,” “negotiations” and violence. Thus, they became immovable from the thrones they hold.
Their apprentices, their followers of the extreme left dispersed in different countries of the continent, are trying to find out how to replicate their masters in order to come to control institutions and omnimous state powers via the electoral route of the silly and inadvertent democracies. The manual is copious.
Hugo Chávez left power in 2013 not by his own will as is known, but by the chance of fate. And perhaps, if he were still alive, he would have brought to its maximum intensity the scale of internal and external conflicts that work today around the Venezuelan problem. A problem that ceased to be, for a long time, only of the Venezuelans.
Chávez always said it: his—and his associates— was a long-range power project. A political and ideological operation that had as a background strategy a revolutionary process with a civic-military base.
After having failed to take over the leadership of the country through armed and violent means, he bet on the “tactical window” (1997). That is, to advance within the “bourgeois” terrain of representative and electoral democracy. Thus, through the popular vote and the audacious overheating of antagonisms, tensions, and social conflict, he arrived at the Palacio de Miraflores in 1999. Bingo.
It was not the takeover, it was the initial takeover of the government that Chávez obtained. The real power would be given later by the dosed application of the “Bolivarian” revolutionary principles within the politically free but unnoticed democracy.
In parallel and the economic chessboard, surprises would not be long in coming. The candidate and future dictator assured that he would respect the precarious economic liberties and private property. Already on the throne, Marxist economic socialism was setting up its heavy infrastructure.
Freedom of speech and press were also its first victims. And with them, human rights, of course.
It should not be forgotten then: the general political strategy was always the armed civic-military revolution (the violent motorized and armed civilian “collectives” also pointed later in that direction of political and social intimidation). The rest, including the electoral bet, were purely tactical movements.
A revolution in which letting go of power turned out to be a serious contradiction was beginning to consolidate. And with no lesser internal and external allies.
Chávez then played within representative democracy to lock it up, while at the same time he oiled a convenient “participative democracy” (as indicated by the recipes of Heinz Dieterich and the “post-democracy” of Norberto Ceresole) in which institutions and legitimate intermediate and dissident actors were progressively eliminated.
He, Hugo, exercised the “direct dictates” of a sector of the population that ecstatically applauded and even cried when they heard him speak. He was the living embodiment of socialist populism in action. Today the results can be seen.
Thus, little by little, via slow polls, the “revolutionary Chávez” was advancing, liquidating the “Chávez president” of representative democracy. It was the “Chávez versus Chávez”, which was very well described—and warned—by the disappeared journalist and political analyst Alberto Garrido seventeen years ago.
Today, as Russia and Iran (and a calculatingly silent China on the subject) intervene more and more directly and openly supporting the criminal regime with political power, the idea of the ringleaders releasing the steering wheel of the Venezuelan ship of their own free will tends to be more and more fiction. “Except for power, everything is an illusion,” an old prodictatorial phrase once stated.
Chavismo is not only a simple or traditional despotic regime of a political sign. It is a project connected to dark criminal networks of transnational dimension. It is a project of power of long reach that was not only strengthened based on a revolutionary and ideological process but also, in that walk, it came to establish tactical collaborations and real strategic links with both drug trafficking and international terrorism. A truly lethal power.
With infiltration and constant ideological and political advice from Castro, the criminal and delinquent logic of power also found a foothold.
Not long ago Maduro—and Diosdado long before—Chávez’s successor (his logical follower and not a project “different” from the original Chavism) threatened that he alone will come out dead from the usurped presidency. That XXI Century Socialism will not leave power in Venezuela.
Alberto Garrido himself highlighted in 2003—when an immense majority underestimated the dangers—something that Chávez always warned: “The Bolivarian revolution will never leave power”. He said that they even had the right to “export their model,” as indeed it happened in an equalized way where he sought to settle.
Today, when the reach of the conflict of political and criminal contours has expanded and the highlighted dividing lines show with greater clarity to its effective external supports, Maduro and associates continue betting on the same irreversible scheme.
Miguel Lagos is a political analyst and columnist focused on issues of risk and political conflict, radicalization, and violent political extremism. @_mlagos_.