Posts Tagged ‘Hugo Chávez’


(Note: I’m doing this translation on the fly — just sitting here reading and typing away. Don’t expect a great translation: I’m wiped and am posting this without revising it. For those interested and who can read Spanish, the original is included at the end of this translation.)

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by Rafael Uzcategui

The rhetoric of Chavismo [refers to the personality cult of Hugo Chávez and his followers, especially now-dictator Nicolás Maduro], replete with the standard pet phrases of the Latin American left, created for many years expectations among those who searched for a more humane and just alternative [to the capitalist hell of U.S. subservience and exploitation].

Despite the degradation of the army to the Chavista state, and the obvious evidence of the general impoverishment of the population and the regimentation of daily life of Venezuelans, the phantasm [of “Bolivarian” revolution] hasn’t yet totally evaporated.

The unsuspecting, innocents, and political operatives of all stripes, but without the drive they had in the days of the Supreme Commander, continue to defend the regime of Nicolás Maduro repeating the empty phrases “economic war” and citing the Constituent Assembly [the illegal body created by Maduro to supplant the elected congress].

Every time we have to explain the Venezuelan situation outside of our borders, we need to overcome the echos of authoritarian propaganda [sanctifying Chávez and Maduro]. To neutralize the views of those who live in other lands, but who consider themselves better informed than those of us living here, I’ll cite personal histories, personal histories of those of us living here in Venezuela.

I’ll begin with the story of Juan Pedro Lares.

Juan Pedro is a young man of 23, who on the 30th of June, the date of the election for Maduro’s [illegal] constituent assembly, was arrested in his home in the municipality of Campo Elías in the state of Mérida by SEBIN [Servicio Boliviariano de Inteligencia Nacional — the state intelligence service]. They were looking for his father, Omar Lares, the town’s mayor. Most of the family fled through the rear, but uniformed cops arrested Juan Pedro.

There was no arrest warrant for him and he was committing no crime — the two reasons under the law that would permit arrest. But they arrested him anyway.

Meanwhile, his father fled to Colombia to avoid being arrested in the wave of repression directed against [opposition] mayors. And his mother Ramona went to Caracas to try to find out what happened to Juan Pablo.

Despite going several times to the Helicoide prison, the authorities denied repeatedly that he was there. He was.

Both Juan Pedro and his mother Ramona are Colombian citizens, and thanks to the Colombian embassy she was able to visit him in Helicoide, the headquarter of SEBIN, four times over the coming months.

The illegal detention, the violation of due process, and the negation of the rights due any prisoner — visits by family and access to attorneys — weren’t the only violations of Juan Pedro’s rights. He was never brought before a judge during the first 48 hours to be informed of the charges brought against him. He was never brought before a judge during the first six months of his captivity.

We repeat: No state attorney has accused the young man of committing a crime. Therefore, his detention consists of, nothing more and nothing less, a kidnapping by the state. In this manner, the Maduro government, with the complicity of the human rights figures [within it, apparently — I don’t know enough about the matter to extrapolate from the context]  Tarek William Saab and Alfredo Ruiz to blackmail Juan Pedro’s father to return from exile and be imprisoned.

What do you call the type of government that would do such a thing?

The case of Juan Pedro discredits ever more the international mouthpieces of Chavismo [presently, Madurismo]. If the governments of Macri (Argentina) or Piñera (Chile) had violated due process and incarcerated someone for political purposes, there would be a regional campaign against this on social networks. But no.

The case of Juan Pedro Lares is not unique.

We’ll continue, while we still have a voice, to continue to paint such portraits of infamy.

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El discurso del chavismo, repleto de lugares comunes y las muletillas de la izquierda latinoamericana, generó durante mucho tiempo expectativas entre quienes buscaban una alternativa, más humana y justa, para la humanidad. A pesar de la degradación del ejercicio de poder bolivariano y todas las evidencias sobre el empobrecimiento general de la población y la estatización de la vida cotidiana de los venezolanos, dicho espejismo no se ha evaporado del todo. Incautos, ingenios y operadores políticos de todo pelaje, con menos empuje que en los días en vida del Comandante Supremo, siguen defendiendo la gestión de Nicolás Maduro, repitiendo los desiertos de la “guerra económica” y la Constituyente.

Cada vez que hemos tenido que explicar la situación venezolana fuera de sus fronteras, tenemos que vencer los ecos de la propaganda del autoritarismo. Para neutralizar auditorios que a pesar de no vivir en el país creen estar mejor informados que tú, he recurrido a la estrategia de contar historias que, dramáticamente, hablen por sí solas. Cuando he querido neutralizar las intervenciones de quienes desean refutar que entre nosotros existe una dictadura, empiezo mi intervención relatando la historia de Juan Pedro Lares.

Juan Pedro es un adolescente de 23 años que el pasado 30 de julio, fecha de las elecciones a la Asamblea Constituyente madurista, fue detenido en su domicilio ubicado en el Municipio Campo Elías del estado Mérida. Un comando del SEBIN y la policía fueron a buscar a su padre, Omar Lares, que en ese momento ejercía el cargo de Alcalde de Ejido. La familia huye por el patio trasero, pero Juan Pedro queda atrás y es capturado por los uniformados. No había ninguna orden de aprehensión en su contra y no estaba cometiendo en ese momento delito alguno, los dos causales, que según la ley, permiten la privación de libertad. Inmediatamente fue trasladado a Caracas. Mientras su padre huía a Colombia, para evitar ser parte de los alcaldes detenidos ilegalmente, su madre Ramona comienza la peregrinación en la capital para conocer el paradero de su hijo. A pesar de haber ido varias veces a El Helicoide, las autoridades negaban que se encontrara ahí. Tanto Ramona como Juan Pedro tienen nacionalidad colombiana, por lo que fue por intermediación de la Cancillería que, semanas después, corroboraron que se encontraba en la sede del Sebin y le permitieron una primera visita, que hasta el día de hoy sólo suman 4. La detención ilegal y la negación de los derechos de cualquier preso (ser visitado por abogados y familiares de manera periódica) no son la única violación del debido proceso. La más escandalosa es que durante los 6 meses que Juan Pedro ha estado recluido en El Helicoide en ningún momento, ni en las 48 horas que dice la ley ni después, ha sido trasladado a tribunales para que un juez sea formalmente informado de los delitos que se le imputan. Repetimos: Ningún fiscal ha acusado al joven de haber cometido acto fuera de la ley, por lo que su detención constituye, nada más y nada menos, que un secuestro por parte del Estado. De esta manera el gobierno madurista, con la complicidad de los próceres de los DDHH Tarek William Saab y Alfredo Ruiz, intenta obligar a Omar Lares a entregarse. ¿Cómo se llama un gobierno que actúa de esta manera?

El relato sobre el caso Juan Pedro Lares enmudece a los, cada vez menos, altavoces internacionales del chavismo. Si el gobierno de Macri o de Piñera, por decir dos nombres, violara el debido proceso de una sola persona encarcelada por razones políticas, tendríamos a la progresía regional haciendo movilizaciones y campañas por redes sociales. Pero el caso Lares no es el único. Debemos continuar, mientras tengamos voz, relatando sus historias para continuar dibujando el rostro de la ignominia. @fanzinero (Publicado en Tal Cual)


Fidel Castro

 

by Chaz Bufe, publisher See Sharp Press

It’s time to speak ill of the dead.  It’s been time for nearly a century. Since 1918, the left in both the U.S. and Europe has had a dictator-worship problem. First it was Lenin; then it was (yes) Stalin; then Mao; most recently the dictator of choice has been Fidel Castro.

To illustrate the depth and nature of this problem, let me recount an incident from Cuba in the 1960s. In the 1970s, a maoist friend told me about his experiences there as part of a Venceremos Brigade a decade earlier. (Venceremos Brigades were bands of American leftists who traveled to Cuba to work in the cane fields in support of “the revolution.”) At one point, Fidel himself showed up where they were working in the fields. My friend told me that the reaction of his fellow brigadistas was like that of 14-year-olds at a Beatles concert.

Anarcho-Syndicalist ReviewSince then, the American left in large part has continued to idolize Castro and his Stalin-admirer cohort, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, overlooking their  crimes. We’ll get to those crimes shortly, but let’s first speak of Castro’s, and his “revolution’s,” achievements. During his half-century reign, Fidel Castro and the Cuban Communist Party achieved the following:

  • The literacy rate in Cuba in Cuba went from approximately 70% (figures vary) in 1959 to an estimated 96% today, thanks to the Cuban government’s literacy campaigns and universal education for those aged 6 to 16.
  • Cuba has universal, free medical care. One example of its success is that infant mortality in Cuba fell from 37.3 per 1,000 live births in 1959 to 4.3 per thousand today. (In contrast, the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is 5.8 per 1,000 live births today.)
  • Higher education in Cuba is free for most Cubans.
  • There is remarkably little street crime in Cuba.
  • Every Cuban adult is guaranteed a low paying job, with pay averaging about $20 a month.
  • The Castro regime did show that a Latin American regime can defy the United States government (and the corporations it serves) and survive.

Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Well, consider this:

  • Freedom of speech does not exist in Cuba, nor do the other freedoms listed in the U.S. Bill of Rights. Since its inception, the “revolutionary” Castro regime has jailed opponents for exercising their freedoms of speech and assembly. Human Rights Watch notes: “Many of the abusive tactics developed during his [Fidel Castro’s] time in power – including surveillance, beatings, arbitrary detention, and public acts of repudiation – are still used by the Cuban government.”
  • All media outlets (newspapers, magazines, book publishers, radio stations, television stations) are controlled by the Castro regime, and access to the Internet is tightly restricted.
  • Cuba is a one-party state.
  • In its first four-plus decades in power (ending in 2003), the Castro regime executed hundreds if not thousands of its political opponents. Amnesty International estimates that that regime executed 216 political opponents between 1959 and 1987. Other estimates run up well into the thousands.
  • The Cuban government maintains a surveillance network in every neighborhood in Cuba, the so-called Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs — more accurately, Committees for the Defense of the Regime), which not only spy upon residents, but have considerable control over their lives. As an example, The CDRs can ban political dissidents from even applying to institutions of higher learning.
  • One of the first things the Castro regime did when it took power was to destroy independent unions, either jailing or driving into exile unionists who opposed its takeover. For over half a century, all unions in Cuba have been controlled by the government. (See Cuban Anarchism: The History of a Movement, by Frank Fernández. Full disclosure: I translated and edited the book.)
  • There is no workers’ control, no workplace democracy in Cuba. All workplaces are tightly controlled by government apparatchiks.
  • The Cuban government denies its citizens the right to travel, the right to emigrate. Since 1959, over 1.5 million Cubans have fled the country (current population 11 to 12 million). At least hundreds of thousands fled on rickety boats and rafts, and at absolute minimum thousands of men, women, and children died in the crossing. The actual figure is likely well up into the tens of thousands. No one really knows.

Since Castro’s death last week, the American left has, by and large, continued to sing Fidel Castro’s praises. To cite but one example, a few days ago Amy Goodman, on her generally excellent “Democracy Now” broadcast, devoted a full hour (bar the first few minutes devoted to news) to Castro. There were a few seconds (considerably under a minute) near the start devoted  to generalized mention of the repressive nature of the regime, but there was no mention whatsoever in the rest of the hour of any of the crimes listed above. It was largely a love letter to Castro.

One might mention that many antiauthoritarian Latin American leftists and anarchists deeply resent the largely uncritical support given Castro (and until his death Hugo Chávez in Venezuela) by the American left. They see it as a betrayal of principles — and themselves — and consider it utterly hypocritical, especially when coming from those who loudly proclaim their allegiance to human freedom, human rights — in the United States, but not Cuba (or Venezuela). They believe that the typical leftist refrain, “Well, we wouldn’t want that repressive system here, but the Cuban people are better off for it,” is grossly patronizing to those who are the victims of repression and those who struggle against it.

They have a point. If you believe in human freedom, in civil liberties, you believe in them everywhere, and you support all those struggling against repression. You’re either for freedom of speech or against it. You don’t make excuses for repressive regimes because you know “what’s best” for the people in those countries, because you know better than the Cubans (or Venezuelans) struggling against repression. If you make excuses for authoritarian regimes, if you don’t stand against repression everywhere, please don’t pretend that you have principles, please don’t pretend that you’re anything but a political apologist, a political hack.

If you think a one-party state, suppression of civil liberties, government control of the media, suppression of independent unions, replacement of capitalist bosses by “Communist” bosses, secret police, prisons, executions, a network of neighborhood informers, militarism, and a personality cult are a good tradeoff for the Cuban people in exchange for free health care, free higher education, and a guaranteed low-paying job, by all means support the Cuban dictatorship, and continue to sing Fidel Castro’s praises.