"Mussolini tropical" / Víctor Hugo D'Paola

"Tropical Mussolini"

This was the phrase Carlos Fuentes used recently in reference to the Venezuelan President. As is well known, Carlos Fuentes, besides being a master of marvelous narrative in Terra Nostra and La muerte de Artemio Cruz, is an informed and accurate analyst of the problems and affairs of Latin America. On Sunday the 6th of this month, Hugo Chávez began his campaign against the presidential referendum. The tribune from which the leader spoke had a huge portrait of him as a backdrop. Like Stalin and Mao in other times and more recently Sadam Hussein. Up until recently the Chavistas used national symbols and above all the image of Bolívar.

Carlos Fuentes is not the only one to have found histrionic and political similarities between the leader of Chavismo and fascist leaders. José Vicente Rangel himself, during the first days of Chavista effervescence and glory, compared Chávez with Perón. There are many reasons to demonstrate how the Venezuelan's fascism is something more than the cult of personality and the high-sounding authoritarian tone.

With Mussolini and with Chávez the disgusise of leftist serves to win acolytes and above all activists from the poorest sectors. The people that would accompany the all-powerful caudillo out of necessity.

Demagoguery is part of the substance of fascist leadership; the exaggerated promises and the social hate, the threats of expropriation against those who have something in order to distribute it among those that possess nothing. The virulent nationalism against potential or invented foreign enemies. The anti-parliamentary stance and the rejection of the opinion of others. Only the boss has a voice and he should use it until he anesthesizes and tires the citizen.

Politics is not a civilized debate, it is a war against adversaries who must be implacably pursued. His politics will always place the country at the edge of civil war. No wonder Mussolini made Napoleon's maxim his own: "The revolution is an idea that has found bayonets."

The lies have no limits; this was common with the Italian caudillo. In fascism there is no ideological baggage. An official doctrine--in our case, the Bolivarian--that hides a pragmatic approach to power. The military traditions are joined with a liturgical cult of figures from the national past. There is no scruple whatsoever in sustaining the most incoherent and irrational positions. We'll figure it out along the way. Whatever helps us maintain power is good. Power justifies any shift in position. What is important is personal success, his own, the success of the caudillo. The supreme goal of Chávez is Chávez himself.

The fascist does not believe in political parties; not even his own. He uses his own party for his political campaigns. His party is not democratic; there is no freedom of opinion; no one is allowed to belong to internal tendencies. Fascism always includes within its plans the substitution of the standard armed forces by militias that are politically controlled by the caudillo. The uniforms, the armed squadrons, the liturgy of combat, the shouted slogans, these all form part of the fascist decor, of the war mentality.

"Tropical Mussolini." Carlos Fuentes is right. There are too many similarities between the early fascism in Venezuela and that fascism that led Italy toward an immense national tragedy.

{ Víctor Hugo D'Paola, TalCual, 15 June 2004 }

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