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In a column for the Colombian magazine Semana, Colombian-Spanish journalist Salud Hernández says that Venezuelans have a lot to learn from the Ukrainians, who stayed in their country to fight against the invading forces of Vladimir Putin. This is a lie, and there are several inaccuracies to this premise.
“Watching Ukraine become a country of fighters, of democrats defending to the death their right to choose and think what they want, I am even more convinced that Venezuelans made the grave mistake of fleeing in the wrong direction.”
Although Hernández begins the article by rightly outlining the criminal nature of communism, the hypocrisy and complicity of the left with its crimes, she becomes blurry when putting together the central premise. She says that communist regimes must be overthrown, which is true; that the Ukrainians are bravely standing up to Putin, also true; but that Venezuelans have done neither the former nor the latter.
Semana‘s journalist writes the article as a conclusion after her trip to Ukraine, where she witnessed the deep scars left by Vladimir Putin’s invasion and the innate horror of war. Unfortunately, the trip did her little good; otherwise, she would know: (I) Ukraine is fighting with its national army and armed civilians (who are otherwise trained, and with equipment donated by the international community) against an invading army. (II) Venezuelans never had weapons to fight the dictatorships of Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro. They are, instead, an unarmed population against a criminal State that tortures and kills shamelessly, never fearing the consequences. (III) Ukraine also has millions of refugees, something expected in any conflict or situation of humanitarian tragedy, and there would be far more refugees if men of age had not been forbidden to leave the country.
To the inaccuracies, we must add Salud Hernández’s profound ignorance of the resistance against the Chavista dictatorship of the last two decades. She says, in a moment of infinite arrogance — as if she had, after twenty years, finally discovered the formula to put an end to Chavismo: “They should have walked towards Miraflores without stopping the march until the capo and his accomplices were removed”. It is surprising that Salud Hernández is unaware of the events of April 2002, when the regime’s paramilitaries shot dead almost 20 Venezuelans and wounded more than 100 who were trying to reach the presidential palace. Or to the protests of 2007, 2014 or 2017, when the purpose was always to reach Miraflores and, when added up, they all ended with more than 200 murdered civilians.
Something easy to say from a keyboard in Bogota. Perhaps Hernández could say the same about the Colombians, who flocked to neighboring countries during the drug war like Venezuela, where, by the way, millions arrived.
Too bad, I respect Salud Hernández. But her text is disrespectful, ignorant and simplistic. Putin’s criminal invasion of Ukraine can teach the world a thousand lessons, but to conclude, after walking through the streets of Kyiv, that Venezuelans are cowards is unfair. She should issue an apology. I am sure Hernández will understand, because she is much more sensible and intelligent than that vulgar article in Semana.
Orlando Avendaño is the co-editor-in-chief of El American. He is a Venezuelan journalist and has studies in the History of Venezuela. He is the author of the book Days of submission // Orlando Avendaño es el co-editor en Jefe de El American. Es periodista venezolano y cuenta con estudios en Historia de Venezuela. Es autor del libro Días de sumisión.