EspañolIt is clear that demagoguery, official narratives, and coercion are the means by which Socialism of the 21st Century has come to power. This was echoed a few days ago in El Salvador, and a few years ago in Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina. Above all, it has been realized in Chávez and Maduro, flesh and blood representations of the socioeconomic planning to be imposed in the lives on those they claim to represent.
The anti-government protests that rose up in Caracas and the interior of Venezuela last month represent — if nothing else — a glimmer of hope. They are the result of a series of warnings impressed upon the public over the last 10 years. There is a part of the Bolivarian community that is not willing to be run over by the whims of a government that has never respected the individual rights of Venezuelans.
Those many thousands who came out to protest made their voices heard as they burned the statue of the dictator Hugo Chávez Frías the same week that the other half of the country honored him with festivals. For the optimist, this could perhaps be compared to the fall of Stalin’s statue in Prague in 1962.
It is these “hero leaders” that claim to lead their country to paradise, while dragging it into the depths of corruption — all political and economic relationships being measured by their degree of cronyism. Cronyism is the order of the day, as republican institutions are replaced by the sum of public power. Favored by the presidential system of government, colonial tradition, and fear of the vacuum of public government, the president-dictator endures through grand promises of a future soon to come.
These leaders exist in places with weak institutions. Where there may be democracy, but not a republic. They oppress their political opponents, create a new version of history for themselves, and abuse the electoral system through fraud. They utilize, both for themselves and for their protégés, a voluminous and fanciful official propaganda.
There are many who want a stop to the personalization of politics. Those individuals march in the streets and crave freedom. They want a system that puts an end to price controls, which do nothing but cause shortages. They demand an end to the strict regulation of currency exchange, which only hinders productivity and fosters poverty and corruption. They plead for the end of runaway inflation caused by the irresponsible financing of public spending, and a country that respects the right to property.
Freedom is an ideal worth fighting for. We are fortunate that in Venezuela and in major cities across Latin America, citizens are willing to defend themselves against the atrocities caused by populism. As Cervantes said, “For freedom, as for honor, life may and should be ventured.”