¿Entre dos fraudes? / Joaquín Marta Sosa

Between Two Frauds?

My friend writes to me perplexed.

He belongs to the left, in a way that doesn't allow any breach except for those friendships that are able to overcome the years and all distances.

He tells me in his letter: "The last great news I received was of the Venezuelan President's ratification. It seemed to me that with that act the left had gained a new and refurbished impulse.

Kerry, who should win in November, will understand this and he'll act with the prudence Bush has lacked, so as to see that Venezuela places itself once again at the vanguard of renewal and of the high leap over the conservative and retrograde walls that try to drown the Democratic candidate. But I just finished reading a long essay by Gabriel Jackson, an elegant leftist, regardless of what he writes about, a historical analyst celebrated like few are, as you know, because of his work on the Spanish civil war.

"The confusions I'm mired in are caused by that political and historical portrait that Jackson paints of the current American President, whose features are surprisingly similar to the descriptions of the Venezuelan President provided by anyone from the opposition. Let me get to the point.

Bush pulled his presidency out of the sleeve of an electoral fraud, which those responsible for denouncing, with all of its consequences, preferred to tip toe around. Because Americans would not be able to withstand such a blatant similarity to the most extreme Third World country ruled by the most stubborn of caudillos.

But no matter how you look at it, we have a President cooked up in the oven of an illegal operation of vote tallies. And now I'm reading a series of arguments about the lack of legal checks and balances in your referendum that is so long, that I'm starting to think that your President and ours might be fulfilling that saying that the biggest similarities exist between those who seem to be radically different from one another.

"But what's more, as I follow our election I realize that Bush's personality seems to coincide quite well with the deep-rooted desires of the average American, assailed as he feels by forces beyond his control and understanding. He's a President that creates out of himself an image of authority that's above the law, with a simplistic and direct discourse, that resorts to the most basic form of patriotism and to a fundamentalist religious redemption. Despite his poor performance and the fact that, according to Jackson, "he is the most incompetent President in the history if the United States," he still has an enormous chance of getting re-elected. The worst thing that could happen to us is for a fraudulent President to end up being electorally legitimized four years later, with an infamous track record but engorged with patriotism and promises for a strong hand in all matters, with no regard to what the laws or international institutions might decree. I've read the very same things about the Venezuelan President, who directs a very bad government which is nonetheless grandiloquent and patriotic in its rhetoric. Of course, I didn't pick up on these points earlier because his government had several decades of right-wing administrations behind it. But it seems to me that it's time for him to prove that a leftist government is good, not because it's on the left but because it governs better than a right-wing government. A government that does its job without sermons at the foot of statues that others topple (as I recently heard about), and without covering itself beneath the suspicious blanket of the past or beneath distinguished historical dates.

"One last thing. As you know, Bush and the entire horde of allies who sustain him use intimidation, they distill fear over all of us, they want to situate us within terror's region in order to easily subjugate us. And they don't merely disseminate and amplify the threats of terrorism. They also threaten us with trials, with laws, with applying repressions never seen before and with the surveillance of each person and each family's privacy.

I read that in Venezuela intimidation seems to be prevalent, that there are new political prisioners and exiles and that a new law curtailing free speech is about to be approved, as in any anti-democratic regime. All of this seems to be just as right-wing and reactionary as my own government's conduct. Is it true what our press is reporting about events in Venezuela, or are these lies? Because if they reflect the reality in any way, I tell you we could exchange Presidents without anyone noticing.

To end this, now Carter has denounced that in Florida, a state that could be crucial in the presidential election, they have excluded almost one hundred thousand people from the electoral registry, between Blacks and Latinos who are suspected of being leftists, and that the voting machines are not completely trustworthy.

I ask myself if we might be facing another fraud."

I was only able to answer: We too might be asking ourselves that same question within a few days.

{ Joaquín Marta Sosa, El Nacional, 28 October 2004 }

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