EspañolThere are many reasons to keep protesting in Venezuela. After 15 years of populist policies that have impoverished our nation and undermined our liberties, inflation, scarcity, unemployment, corruption, a lack of basic services, and insecurity have been the most visible consequences, but not the only ones.
This regime has been, and continues to be, the main factor in taking each of the aforementioned problems to their highest levels, but it is not the original source of these problems. While they worsened during the 15 years he was in power, our problems did not arise with Hugo Chávez. Socialism is nothing new in Venezuela. Even before the arrival of democracy, the political leadership of Venezuela flirted with the idea and its many variations. During the 40 years of bipartisanship and the preceding historical period, socialist-oriented parties always governed Venezuela, whether they were social democrats, Christian democrats, or communists.
The policies implemented by the Punto Fijo Pact destroyed the healthy and necessary link between effort and reward, substituted competition for cronyism, and turned Venezuelans into slaves dependent on the illusory magic of the state. All of these populist practices strengthened the bonds of cronyism, thereby laying the groundwork for the arrival of an evil regime like the one that we face today.
Those who abuse power in Venezuela today are not “inefficient” — they are well aware of what they are doing. They are destroying the productive elements of society and purposely perverting the state (or what little is left of it). Their mission is to entrench themselves in power, and causing poverty and misery is their best means to achieve it. Although the regime occupies the head of the status quo, it is not its only component. The “official opposition” also plays an important role in the apparatus of power.
The regime has knitted shirts that the “opposition” appears quite comfortable wearing — they’re red, and sport a hammer and sickle. While some might want to add a few more colors to the shirt — perhaps yellow, black, or white — they’ll wear it just the same. Even though they may have their differences, the truth is there is far more that unites the opposition with the ruling party than what separates them.
It is vitally important to understand that the regime is not alone in maintaining the established order. There are agents that legitimize their actions, rhetoric, and their project — united by common values of “equality,” “social justice,” and the “common good” over the individual and the free market. Political slogans and proposals may vary to some extent, but there is never any fundamental change. Marxists may change their names or their programs, but they never cease to promote the same Marxist agenda. Venezuela has had 55 years of socialist government, as moderates gave way to the more radical variety over time. To believe now that moderates are the solution would be madness.
There is a desperate need for change in Venezuela, but it cannot be a simple change in “government”; there must be a wholesale change in the system, its foundations, and the ideas that strike at the very root. Those who comprise the official opposition in Venezuela do not represent such change. Therefore, a new political generation, intellectual and organized, must arise and lay the groundwork for real change.
We need statesmen who know their roles and understand their limits, an entrepreneurial class that moves away from cronyism and protectionism that damages the economy, and above all, academics who understand the important of liberty, responsibility, and dignity. Each component has a very important role, and the state must protect the people, not to run their lives.
By understanding this, we will guide our nation towards prosperity, and convert the harsh reality of today into just another distant memory.
We must remember that a change in politics requires a change in ideas. Only then will we set a course for a new Venezuela. Only then will we build the freest nation in America. Liberty, or nothing.
This article was first published on Foro Libertad.