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Attempts to theorize about Chavez’ “illegitimate” presidency are simply ludicrous

Monday, June 13, 2005 commentarist Elio Cequea writes: Regardless of what some fictitious and off the wall “political scientists” might say, the government of Venezuela is legitimate. Venezuela is a democracy and as such, its government came about through the votes of the people.

Attempts to theorize about Chavez’ “illegitimate” presidency are simply ludicrous. In addition to have been elected by the people, all the recent polls consistently give the government a 70% rate of approval. And the President is in the seventh year of his “illegitimate” Presidency!

Oh, yes! Castro has 97% of support in Cuba and Saddam had 100% of the votes in Iraq’s last election … the difference with Venezuela is that neither one had polling companies openly identified with the opposition running the numbers.

Why would they show numbers favoring a government they explicitly oppose?

I want the opinion of one “political scientist,” especially from one of those “increasingly aware of the authoritarian and repressive nature of the regime.”

Is somebody increasingly suffering from hallucinations? There is not doubt! Someone who aspires to be someday a political scientist turned out a set of criteria to test the true democratic nature of “the regime.” According to him, it failed. Even though he recognizes that his was “a subjective analysis,” he also mentions that it was also “largely backed by facts.”

Until now, I had the belief that any analysis backed by facts were objective. In any case, let’s take a look at the test. It will be more fun if we are objective and backed our arguments with facts.

1. There are no free and fair elections in Venezuela.

Of course not! That would be impossible when by definition “free and fair” election is one that results in the defeat of “the regime.” At a 70% rate of approval for the government, it will be a while before anything with regards to elections can be considered free and fair.

2. There is accountability.

A legitimate government has to be held responsible by the people, says our analyst. If you visit any opposition website you will see that not only the government but also its supporters are being held responsible. In this particular, there is a webpage called that is exclusively dedicated to making sure that accountability “occurs” once Chavez is gone. In that webpage you can read that its mission statement is “to fix in your memory the faces of the people who support and participate in the government.” The sole intention of Reconocelos is to help to make people “accountable.” They used to have a file on the murdered prosecutor Danilo Anderson … once he was “accounted for” (assassinated), the file disappeared from the website.

3. The Rule of Law exists.

At least the government is trying. Corrupt judges are being demoted and even prosecuted. Anyone who breaks the law gets the weight of it. ‘Political prisoners’ are actually lawbreakers that happen to be politicians. Journalists are not considered sacred cows any more. The days when they could say and write anything with complete disregard for the truth are over.

The people elected the President and the members of the National Assembly (AN) which has elected the members of the other public powers … the Supreme Court has intervened in this matter when the National Assembly has not been able to do its job for reasons such as opposition filibustering of the decision-making process.

4. There was no social inclusion. There is now!

In the past, most of the population was partially or totally excluded from receiving basic benefits such education and basic healthcare. Government programs created to take those benefits to the ones who need them the most are ideas recognized as excellent by leaders of the opposition. Most of the population lives at poverty level … thus, the majority is being included. There are also subsidized food programs available for the general population.

Politically, there has been a referendum for every major political change that has taken place. Some have claimed large abstention. This has been the case in some elections, but, it is also true that the vote is an earned citizen right. Those who did not vote excluded themselves from the political process. How could that be fraud?

5. Without doubt, Venezuela has a strong and independent media.

The claims by the opposition of lack of free press are childish. They say that the major blow to freedom of expression in Venezuela has been the enacting of a law that regulates the content of media news. There is a headline today indicating that the judicial power is nothing but an entity that executes what is of interest for the regime. That is a strong, independent and perfectly legal opinion to express. Also, TV stations have absolutely no limitations on what they broadcast after 11:00 p.m.

Some cry self-censorship … and there is nothing wrong with that. If you take that to a personal level, self-censorship has to do with having common sense, morals and values. Is that bad?

6. Do we have institutional checks and balances?

This is another twisted definition. Opposition analysts complain, “Chavez is the law of the land in Venezuela.” This is a matter of point of view … he actually has 70% approval among the general population. With that in mind, he is definitely the law of the land. There is support for his policies everywhere you look: the Attorney General, the Comptroller General, the Ombudsman, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, the National Assembly and the National Electoral Council.

There are minority rights though … all depends on what is considered “minority right.” Stopping the main source of income of the nation is not a minority right!

There is civilian control over the military in spite of the opposition’s claims … Chavez is a civilian who also has the democratic support of the majority of the Venezuelans.

7. About economic and political stability.

There is no question that Venezuela can do better on these two. For that, the opposition has to start cooperating .. they also need to stop sabotaging the country in order to take political advantage of the situation.

The day the opposition agrees to accept the new political order, that will be the day the “political crisis” will end.

That is the case with the economic stability … the moment Fedecamaras and the opposition media decide to contribute, that moment there will be more economic stability.

The government could throw all the oil industry and economic saboteurs in jail too. But, that will not necessarily bring us more stability. This ball is in the opposition’s court.

8. Equal Access to Public Services.

Defining as “public” services such as potable water, electricity and telephone, these are problems that come with being a development country. These problems hopefully will be resolved as the country develops.

About people being denied government jobs, this is a difficult situation for both sides. The civic strike was simply an attempt to sabotage the country … it had the support of many who in turn put their signatures tp the referendum petition.

Would The White House hire a Muslim cook from Afghanistan without asking questions?

Do you get the picture?

Also, the claims that there is no equal access because now there are “ex-privileged” people running into the same difficulties as everybody else in order to get a passport or an identity card can be discarded as hypocrisy. It was difficult to get a passport or an identity card back in 1976!

The reasons why an apparently decent human being will go through these eight points making up arguments supporting allegation that the Venezuelan government is illegitimate are beyond my understanding.

But anyway, what actions of the Venezuelan opposition are rational?

Certainly, an apparently decent Venezuelan senior went through the exercise … his conclusion to his own “subjective analysis” was unavoidable: “There is a growing issue of illegitimacy surrounding the Hugo Chavez presidency.” (?)

The darkest wishes and frustrations of the civil society are also expressed in his conclusions:

a. “Venezuelan society appears incapable of generating an internal protest strong enough to force a change in this situation, at least in the short term.”

b. “Ousting Chavez will require a combination of strategies, including domestic and international components.”

It sounds to me it would be a lot easier for the opposition to stop the BS … recognize the legitimacy of the government and immediately start cooperating with the development of the nation.

As the disgruntled analyst stated: “These strategies, in fact, should have started yesterday!”

Elio Cequea

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