The New Venezuela: Farewell, Fidel

EspañolIn recent weeks, the streets of Venezuela have been filled with protests throughout the country. Initially triggered in Caracas, demonstrations are now seen far and wide, ever since the wrongful arrest and imprisonment of opposition leader Leopoldo López. What else could we expect from a corrupted justice system directed by executive authority? Venezuela is a country where people are still imprisoned for ideological differences, and where over 25,000 murders took place in 2013 and 97 percent went unsolved.

In response to peaceful protests, the Venezuelan government has resorted to killing and torturing the young people who attempt to exercise their right to speech. In doing so, until yesterday, Nicolás Maduro’s government had already killed 21 people, jailed more than 1,000, and injured several hundred more.

Nevertheless, there has already been much written about the substance of the demonstrations taking place. In order to look forward at what the future holds for Venezuela, it is important that we take a look back to understand how the nation arrived at this point. Clearly, the populism of Chavismo has been fomented by the big and empty promises of better housing, health, education, and welfare. This famed populist dream is nothing new and has never been an achievable solution.

Beyond socialism, this has become the totalitarianism of the 21st century. Unconstitutional governments are taking power under fictitious elections and ruling behind a guise of democracy. Under these regimes, the vulgarity of the populist leader is the suffering — and sometimes death — of its citizens.

There are many who might be wondering what happens now. The protests have clearly weakened the unconstitutional government of Nicolás Maduro and have brought to light the worst of his “leadership” decisions. Venezuelans who have been traveling down the road to serfdom for the last 15 years have finally lost their patience with a government run by a puppet of Fidel Castro. They have been exhausted by a colossal inflation rate of 56 percent (an unofficial estimate exceeds 300 percent), a shortage of food and basic supplies, insecurity in the streets, expropriation, and a lack of proper institutions that support the rights of individuals, not the arbitrary whims of government.

As a result, fear and self-censorship have begun to disappear, and we now find ourselves in a country that has been awakened. The agenda imposed from Havana appears to be nearing its final days.

Meanwhile, in a desperate attempt to calm dissent and deceive the international community, the government is proposing a “dialogue for peace.” They do so while they continue to kill and repress their own citizens, revealing the “circus for peace” to be nothing more than a distraction.

Given the situation, it is encouraging to see the emergence of a real opposition led by people like Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado — individuals who do not negotiate with an unconstitutional government, or try and shut down peaceful and civil protests, unlike Henrique Capriles Radonski. Today, the real opposition seeks a new course for Venezuela — a country that has suffered through one of its worst decades in history. It is likely that through this new leadership and a vigilant resistance, a new path toward freedom and democracy for Venezuela will emerge.

The arrival of freedom in Venezuela will mean the collapse of “Socialism of the 21st Century” — a giant with feet of clay that has trampled its way throughout Latin American in the last decade. Without the flow of petrodollars, Venezuelans will leave behind the authoritarian projects of the region, including Fidel’s Cuba.

It is clear that until two weeks ago, Venezuela was headed toward becoming a second Cuba. Today, the fate of the country can change, so long as Venezuelans remember the motto of Leopoldo López: “The one who tires will lose.”

This article first appeared on El Ojo Digital.

Translated by Guillermo Jimenez.

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