Carlos Sánchez Berzaín
July 11, 2017
(Interamerican Institute for Democracy) Dictator Nicolas Maduro has taken Venezuela’s situation to the crossroads wherein the very survival of the homeland is at stake. The core of the confrontation is between the consolidation of an unpatriotic Castroist dictatorship and the regaining of Venezuela’s freedom, sovereignty and democracy. The rejection to the dictatorship grows each day, but the de-facto government remains in power because people, officials, the military, the police and others, who are not a political part of the opposition can’t seem to find neither the space, nor the conditions to help to end the disgrace, trapped by threats from a regime to whom they identify as a foe but one they cannot help to end. The time has come to attract and encourage converts to the defense of the homeland in Venezuela.
In the current situation, the fight in Venezuela is no longer ideological or political party driven, it is a fight of multiple sectors and diverse -and even dissimilar- leaderships to prevent the country to be subjugated and be dissolved with Venezuelans in it. The general conflict in Venezuela is not a dispute between the left and the right, it is neither between Marxists and capitalists, nor between populists, progressives, or neo-liberals, not even a fight between the haves against the have-nots. Since a little more than one year back, but certainly clearer within the last three months, the facts show the regime lacks any legitimacy, has no popular backing and yields power in much similar fashion as a criminal cartel.
With an astounding rejection by 90% of the population and with the citizenry permanently protesting on the streets, the response by the dictatorship has been of daily violation of human rights through the use of techniques and people from Cuba and transnational Castroist sympathizers that have inflicted oppression and barbarism on Venezuelans. Amongst those who comprise and experience the highest rejection -which is nearly about total- are obviously the Venezuelan members of the Armed Forces, the National Guard, members of security institutions, the regime’s political structure including mid and upper levels, official propaganda media, civil servants in positions of authority, even the jailers of political prisoners, members of Chavez’s political party and obviously those Venezuelans who have already benefitted from the now agonizing regime’s demagogue -but highly politically effective- perks, that at one time they supported.
There is a very important group of Venezuelans that are “trapped in the ruling party” compelled into a shameful position, forced to tolerate and defend something they no longer believe in but that are now even against. There are clear, albeit few, examples of Venezuelans who have converted to the defense of the homeland, of freedom, of the sovereignty and Independence of Venezuela, noteworthy among them we can include the 123 military who have been imprisoned by the dictatorship (certainly there are more), the Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega and her inner circle, Oscar Perez the helicopter pilot now accused of plotting against the government, and who knows how many more, to the point that Maduro is now demanding “absolute loyalty” from members of the Bolivarian National Armed Force to deal with “possible cracks” that in reality are huge insurmountable gaps.
Those who while being part of Venezuela’s government and/or the state’s apparatus have changed to defend their homeland, are converts. It is not about an ideological change, although individually they are free to choose that, but is evidence of a change to be in a correct historic position. To be a convert is neither bad, nor disgraceful, it shows a trait, a sign of freedom, of intellect, of a sound decision based upon what is in the best interest of the country, and on the reality that today in Venezuela it is impossible to continue supporting or being -either through commission or omission- part of the dictatorship. To be a convert is synonymous to the pursuit of “change” and when you put that into practice in order to defend fundamental values and the homeland’s independence, results benefit the entire society and it should be sponsored and guaranteed.
It is important to clarify that to be a convert is totally different than to be a traitor. Treason is “the act that is committed breaking the faithfulness and loyalty that must be practiced or be had”. In jurisprudence, it is “the crime committed by a civilian or military that attempts against the security of the homeland”. By “high treason” it is understood to mean that which is committed “against the sovereignty, honor, security, and independence of the State”. An essential element of treason is that which is done “solely for one’s own benefit as motivation or consequence”. By definition and his acts committed, Maduro is the principal traitor of the homeland who through his repressive inner circle, his involvement with narcotics trafficking, corruption, and as a squanderer of resources shall not go unpunished, but for this to happen he and his cronies must lose power and that can be accomplished enabling all who reject him to complete their conversion.
History is full of great personalities who were converts. In the realm of religion, for example, Judas Iscariot was a traitor and Saint Paul a great convert who propelled Christianity as a universal movement. Paul from Tarsus, or Saul of Tarsus, today known as Saint Paul by Catholics, originator of the Paulian Theology of the justification of the faith for Christians, was a Roman Jew who persecuted Jesus’ disciples, and has been presented even as the one responsible for the stoning of Esteban, converted and is considered as the Disciple of the Gentiles.
Simón Bolívar the liberator whose image was used by Hugo Chavez who tried to emulate it in the drafting of his project and who, at one time, called it the “Bolivarian Movement”, and with whose name he rebaptized Venezuela and several of its existing institutions, was another convert. He was born a realist, Spaniard creole and was converted to the fight for the freedom of Americas’ peoples after 5 July 1811, a date in which the independence of Venezuela was proclaimed, becoming part of Liberator Francisco de Miranda’s army as a Colonel. As with most of the officers and Generals of the liberator armies, Bolivar was originally a soldier of Spain’s crown converted into a fighter for freedom and independence.
Winston Churchill the British politician and statesman known as one of the great leaders of the victory of democracy over Nazi-fascism in World War II, started his political career in 1900 being a conservative and in 1904 “crossed Parliament’s chambers and seated himself in the bench of the liberals” with whom he was able to become the First Lord of the Admiralty, Minister of Armament, Minister of War, and Secretary of the Air. This extraordinary figure, twice a convert, was elected to Parliament in the conservative ticket in 1924 and a year later rejoined the Conservative Party occupying several ministry positions until he was Prime Minister in 1940.
Currently, the book “Dialogue of Converts” is well known and recommended because the book’s authors Roberto Ampuero and Mauricio Rojas, along with the prologue written by Mario Vargas Llosa, present their story as Chilean militant communist youth at the end of the 60’s and beginning of the 70’s, then being exiled under Pinochet’s dictatorship and becoming “converts” because, by their own assessment, they were convinced out of the communist dogma until they became liberals. As described by the very own Mauricio Rojas “our journey from the lack of moderation of the redeeming utopia to the sobriety of the liberal thinking is part of a great phenomenon, not only Latin American but also world-wide.”
And what can be said about Eduardo Galiano, is he a convert or not?… who in Brasilia’s Biennial of the Book and Reading, some 43 years following the first edition of his book “Latin America’s Opened Veins” claimed “I could not bring myself to read the book again” and added “that traditional leftist prose is way too heavy” and said that when he wrote the book “I did not have the necessary expertise” and that while he is “not sorry to have written it” he considers it as “a stage that has been overcome”. “I did not have knowledge of economy nor politics when I wrote it” he said.
So are these things; to be a convert and change to the side of reason, of justice, of the defense of basic rights, of democracy, this is what almost 90% of the Venezuelan people have already done with their rejection of dictator Maduro and his regime. This is why the immediate challenge to depose the dictatorship and regain freedom, national sovereignty and democracy in Venezuela is to enable, attract and promote converts to act without fear in favor of the great cause of their homeland in which they already are silently active.
Published in Spanish by Diario las Américas on Sunday July 9th, 2017