What about the period between elections?

Wednesday 4 September 2013

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Authorship: Aram Aharonian*.

Editorial and Canal: Latin American Information Agency (Agencia Latinoamericana de Información, ALAI).

Type of document: Article.

Language: Spanish.

Subject: Politics.

Keywords: Democracy, development models, socialist economic models, neo-liberalism, public opinion and paramilitaries.

Countries and Regions: Venezuela.

The three month period remaining for municipal elections to take place in December will be characterized by denunciations of assassination attempts and sabotage, debates on the ways to fight corruption, a lack of debate on development models or economic-financial planning, also in the midst of media campaigns aimed at not informing or guiding the citizenship, but rather to create a state of confusion.

For he Chavista group Marea Socialista, lthe Bolivarian Revolution is undergoing its most critical period, since the death of Hugo Chávez opened a new dispute for the political hegemony in the country. The elections held on April 14 were not a continuity moment, but rather a rupture one, demonstrating in its full dimension that a new stage in the process was opened, they say. And the also underline that in order to change the path, it is indispensable to defend the social and political achievements attained during the last fourteen years.

It might seems that in Venezuela, a country that still is not able to define its development model and preserves an economy based in monoculture and the profits from oil exports, this is what they experience in the period between elections. The difference in the Exchange rate brings about the fact that a 50 liter tank of gasoline cost US$ 1.50, the same Price you have to pay for one liter in any other country of the region.

And while opposition sectors, under the seemingly leadership of Henrique Capriles Radonsky – still engaged in the search of political and financial support from the ultra rights sectors abroad- predict a nearby apocalypses, Chavismo leaders stressed on the fat that regardless of the result of the elections, this will not exert any influence whatsoever on the Bolivarian Revolution.

Data shows that Nicolás Maduro has positioned himself in the presidential succession. Even more, the survey office Hinterlaces indicated that 90% of Venezuelans wishes him success in his management, while 56% consider that his tenure of office as Head of State has been positive.

And on this occasion –once again – an opposition sector says that the elections of December 8 are a sort of plebiscite, stating that if results favor anti-Chavismo, new presidential elections held on April this year in which Maduro scored a narrow winning margin over Capriles should be organized again.

There are those, somewhere more apocalyptical and linked to a scatological and indecent language, they even says that a municipal triumph will justify any other violent attempt (in April it causes 14 deaths and almost one hundred wounded ones) and even favoring a coup d’état (if they are able to find proper military cadres willing to do so).

Public opinion is being prepared for the so used denunciation of “fraud” in the elections. This opposition sector does not accept an electoral defeat, using the same script they have been using during the last 15 years. And to explain all that they have used a constant bombardment not only in the commercial media (radio, television, radio) but also they have flooded social networks. If they win, is time for violence to barge in… and if they lose violence again. For them the option is to retake the use of force to retake all the privileges they lost 14 years ago, dreaming with a rebirth of neo-liberalism.

In Venezuela, ¿does the media try to attain democratic regulation of conflicts or rather they are exacerbating confrontation? Is there a civic pressure against political lies or tolerance prevails in political hearings? There are half truth that really kill … good journalist practices, as said by sociologist Maryclén Stelling.

But there is also an opposition sector that does believe in democracy, although the Venezuelan experience show that these “moderates” are always buried by the assault of destabilizing and coup prone sectors, seduced by the permanent non-knowledge of the constitutional order, as it has been happening since 2002: coup, “guarimbas”, oil sabotage, attempts to promote civil disobedience to reality (these are called successive defeats).

The opposition is once again insisting on the fact that the call for a Constitutional Assembly. Some do that as part of a quest for a mechanism that will allow voting prior to the presidential in 2018. Other sectors (powerful ones) want to change the present definition of mixed economy by a neoliberal vision, where the rights to health, education and housing are consecrated.

And in general terms no one likes the model of popular participation and there are those who maintain that if they win presidential elections, the political power will not be in their hands.

So in the midst of denunciations and sabotage, lies the future.

The opposition sociologist Leopoldo Puchi said that the opposition strategy of an “Arab spring” have been destroyed, after April 14 and its figures of dead and wounded. But in fact this is not the main danger the government is facing: the challenge is votes, facing an unhappiness for the inefficiency and bureaucracy, something which is not easy to revert. And as they say: “Without votes there is no Paradise, this everyone knows”, after stressing that expectations created in the basis of PSUV regarding primary elections have been destroyed. Maduro openly denounced new para-military operations with the aim of attempting against his life and that of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, part of a plan organized from Colombia among sectors linked to former president Álvaro Uribe, the former US official Roger Noriega and the Cuban origin terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.

These sectors, he denounced, have been recruiting mercenaries and paramilitary forces in Colombia, planning a cover operation using uniforms of the Venezuelan army to create the image that this is a military action against the Bolivarian government. To these denunciations of the assassination project it should be added sabotage actions to the refineries and power generating plants.

Reinaldo Iturriza, Minister for the Communes, expresses that “quite often there are some logic thinking ruling us, and these logics induce practices that govern us again and overnight we awake under the government of forces which are not ours ".

Toby Valderrama, a Chavista column writer says that domestic struggles are a sign of the health of the Revolution: “we are all aware that silence, lack of debate, unanimity, is suicidal. The main work of the leadership is to hold the grounds, maintain equilibrium, so that the internal struggle of the classes will not overspill, in order to attain the close contact effect of arguments and not that of bayonet. On the success attained in the debate will depend that the Revolution will set its course”.

And within the framework of the nomination by the top leaders of PSUV of the candidates to majors and council members, he says, the task of the revolutionaries is to discuss on top of any difficulty and lack of understanding, to criticize, to commend the ideas leading praxis, to fight against detours with courage. And also among those allied to the Gran Polo Patriótico the ill feeling is for “sectarism”.

In the period between elections doubts continue: should economy be reactivated or transformed? The economist and former Minister Víctor Álvarez says that economic reactivation is a process that should be synchronized with the structural transformation to serve the old order, the one that exploited human beings and a plundered of nature by another order able to eradicate the structural causes of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. .

Since the entry in force of the monetary reconversion accumulated inflation is of 311, 3%. This means that at present one Bolivar is equivalent of 0, 2431 cents of the strong Bolivar coming into circulation in January 2008. Accumulated inflation in July reached 29% and the annual one reached 42, 6%.

The level of corruption and inefficiency is a factor that not only influence the wearing out of the present political model and that conspire against the hopes of millions believing in a fair socialist society. The general practice of corruption by groups or casts embedded in the state apparatus, is also one of the main obstacles to build a socialist economic model, says the economist Simón Zúñiga.

Tolerance of corruption has been transformed into a culture with different expressions in misappropriation of public funds, the negotiation with natural resources (such as gold and coltan) and the practices of nepotism. And quite often in order to kill a fire you call some pyromaniac…

The difficult economic juncture and the continuous hesitation in the highest levels of the government has avoided until now to set in motion gradual, but urgent measures, to confront main economic and financial short term problems, said Zúñiga. The real economic urgencies the citizens have also place in doubt the results of December elections. What is concerning is that this chain of elections is to be seen as an expression of democracy. In a given process, in which a citizen is transformed in a subject of policy (and not the simple object of it) one of the main successes has been to take passive participation in the elections as participatory democracy and popular protagonist, which seems like a bad joke.

*Uruguayan-Venezuelan journalist and teacher, director of the Magazine Question, a founding member of Telesur, director of the Latin American Watch in Communication and Democracy (Observatorio Latinoamericano en Comunicación y Democracia (ULAC).

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