I remember the day Juan Guaidó was sworn in as interim president of Venezuela. At the time, many of us believed he was valiantly confronting the Chavista dictatorship as well as the controlled opposition that feeds on the regime.
That day, I listened to and read several colleagues here at PanAm hoping that Guaidó would be the one to liberate Venezuela. And for a few weeks, I believed it myself. But as time went by, the interim president proved to have a great ability to fulfill the first meaning of the term “buchipluma” as used by the Spanish Royal Academy: “A person who promises something but does not fulfill, or who takes responsibility for something but can’t achieve it.”
The months showed that Guaidó’s priority was not to free Venezuela from an ideology that has plunged the richest country in Latin America into misery for more than two decades but to consolidate his own power even though dead bodies continued to pile up in the streets.
I remember that on May 31, 2019, I told one of my colleagues when we were talking about negotiations between the dictatorship and the interim that Guaidó was in favor of negotiating with Maduro, not for the good of the Venezuelans, but “because dialogue prolongs things and keeps him at the head of the opposition. The longer the transition process lasts, the longer Guaidó will be at the head. On the other hand, in a quick process with a free election, he knows he could lose to someone like María Corina or Ledezma.”
Well, it’s been nineteen months since Guaidó swore he would free Venezuela, and the country is still waiting for the interim to do once and for all what it should do: remove the usurpers and call for free elections. That was the promise he made, but, as the saying goes, “empty vessels make the most noise.” However, it doesn’t seem that Guaidó can’t do what he has to do. He does have the backing of more than sixty democratic nations, millions of dollars at his disposal, and a nation that seeks freedom. So it seems he simply doesn’t want to. Perhaps, he is afraid to show his incompetence in leading a free Venezuela.
These months have shown us that the interim president is no different than those who have publicly called themselves the opposition for years, but who receive favors and millions from the dictatorship under the table. How can we not question Guaidó’s intentions and integrity when, for years, he has backed corrupt figures who have ties to the dictatorship? How can we hope to rebuild a country in ruins when a part of the opposition wants those who helped destroy Venezuela’s democratic foundations with a chisel and a sledgehammer to be part of that reconstruction?
As if his incompetence during these months was not enough, Guaidó has now come out to say that he has a new route, one that is different from the one he promised the Venezuelans, and that has been changing bit by bit. Now, Guaidó, who once promised freedom for Venezuela, is brazenly proposing to “discuss and agree on a common path in the next ten days.” Wasn’t this clear when he was sworn in as president in charge, or has he been making fun of Venezuelans and the governments that recognize him? Hasn’t the true opposition, those who do reject the dictatorship, sent him multiple proposals to remove Chavismo from power?
He also says he expects from each of the nation’s leaders “a public and active response that demonstrates a common disposition to restore freedom in our country.” I remind you, Mr. Guaidó, that it is you and your team who have not shown a sincere intention to oust Chavismo. Others have reiterated this and demonstrated it to the point of exhaustion.
Guaidó had everyone’s backing to achieve the freedom of Venezuela. Do not try to blame for your failures those who have denounced the tyranny for years, those who decided to support you on January 23, those who have demanded for months that you take concrete measures and stop modifying the roadmap as if it were a crossword puzzle. They continue to fight. It is you who decided to turn your back on them to keep your friends and Chavismo happy. I hope they do not do the same.
Despite all the support, Guaidó failed to achieve what he had set out to do. Now he wants to put on others the task that has primarily been his responsibility. And what happened to the main point- the end of the usurpation? Is it no longer a priority? Is the goal now to avoid fraud? Is overthrowing the tyranny not the best way to avoid fraud?
Regardless of what they want to sell to Venezuelans, Guaidó has not been the architect of the main coups against Maduro’s dictatorship; it has been the United States- that uncomfortable ally for the interim president due to their ideological differences. Those from the north are closer to freedom and the interim president closer to socialism.
Poor Venezuela finds itself between a dictatorship that bleeds it and a National Assembly that prefers to live with the usurpers just to keep power. The deputies must suspect that when the country finally achieves freedom – not thanks to Guaidó but in spite of him, – and holds democratic elections, many of them will not be heeded by Venezuelans. Why do so when they have been supporting the tyranny they denounce for years?
It is futile to call for a change in the approach of the interim that is leading the cause of freedom of the country. For nineteen months, Venezuelans have waited for their interim president to make good on the promise he made to them on the day he was sworn in. Nearly two years of misery and death that Guaidó has witnessed as president have not been enough to convince him to free Venezuela.
To demand a change of direction is unproductive because the multiple promises of the interim validate the three meanings of buchipluma: “Said or done without value or substance.” What Venezuela needs to free itself from tyranny, is to first get rid of the incompetents and friends of the murderers. Demanding Guaidó’s resignation and putting someone in his place who truly desires his people’s freedom is a start.