The big scam | Culture

Each time the Venezuelan crisis, the interlocutor who surely listens amazed does not take long to ask the same question: how is it possible that the most solid democracy in Latin America has disintegrated in this way? It is again the reaction that is generated in the viewer when it absorbs the images of the film documentary film The town is me, that these days the Venezuelan filmmaker Carlos Oteyza has premiered in Madrid and other Spanish cities. It is worth remembering that in December 2018, it is 20 years since Chávez came to power, and the accident is more than propitious for Oteyza to have made a difficult balance to structure for everything that has happened in those two tragic decades.

Are there reasons to think that the Venezuelan democracy of 1998 had weakened? If one remembers that in that year of presidential elections, the candidates that stood out the most were an exmiss and an exgolpist, it will agree that we were in the very risky field of antipolitics, fertilized by sectarian economic interests, few responsible media and some called " remarkable "that came from academia and rancid politics. There were reasons to rectify and, above all, to be alarmed by the scourge of corruption, but not to the point of destroying the institutions, the party system, and even less with a noble constitution that had governed the country since 1961 during the entire period. democratic. Perhaps in the end, despite the response of the institutionalist military who aborted the two riots of 1992, everything has been summed up to the rise of militarism, which we thought was well buried, and which Chávez translated into pure and simple populism on the political plane. The excuse of the people - that anomia that has no face - was enough to reinterpret the hidden desires, and as Chávez anointed himself as the only translator, it was to be expected that the people would merge with him. It was enough to finish off with a neo-language of power, which has used all the extremist hardware ("homeland, socialism or death"), to build a fascist project where power is retained or never delivered.

It happens with democracy what we experience on a biological level with breathing: we only notice that we lack when we no longer have air. That is to say, it seems to us something so natural, so typical, that we forget reservations. And sometimes, even in the strongest democracies, reserves are exhausted and populisms are seen pounding. Every democratic system has recessive cells (the hidden cancers of a society) and a slight change of variables is enough for the most stable to go under. It happened in Venezuela as it is now happening in Poland or Hungary. Each degree of temperature must be measured, because when the organism is already taken over by fever, the same antibodies of democracy fail, and everything is a drift where neither institutions nor laws weigh. The social pact has been broken and only the voice of the principal is heard. In this sense, it is also very significant that these regimes bury the concept of citizenship, which implies compliance with duties and enjoyment of rights, and prefer to avail themselves of the very moldable people, who adjust according to their whims.

As a balance, the documentary shows that all the Chavista rhetoric was a big lie, or rather a big scam if measured against unfulfilled promises. No doubt that the years of petrodollars cushioned the fall, but now the nightmare is greater when it is discovered that there was never a dream. The evicted faces of mothers with children or elderly people who search the garbage are unspeakable. These are people who have reached the zero degree of humanity: unreflective, inanimate, who look without a center. The rhetoric about the people had never been exploited so much, and it had never been discarded as thoroughly as now: those who postulated themselves as coming from the earth ended up burying their imaginary, if they ever had it. Given these images, the surprising thing is that they continue to lie, in a systematic way, and that the power is blinded to the point of ending or expelling the Venezuelans.

The level of destruction is immeasurable, because it has a material and an immaterial dimension. It also remains to be seen how, in the future, a citizen culture immune to tricksters should be reconstructed. If the vote for Chavez in 1998 was an act of blindness, of democratic decrepitude, how can we prevent it from being repeated in future elections? I will be told that the time is an emergency, and it is entirely true, but we must not forget that the mandate of the coming times will be to prevent Venezuela from ever experiencing a tragedy like the present one.

Antonio López Ortega He is a Venezuelan narrator, essayist and editor living in Spain. His last book is The great regression (UCAB, 2017)


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