Alma Guillermoprieto al rescate de Chávez / Oswaldo Barreto

Alma Guillermoprieto to Chávez's Rescue

The encounter, by chance or perfectly premeditated, between a great reporter and a revolutionary process has not been a rare occurrence in our era.

Thus, John Reed continues to move us when he speaks to us about Pancho Villa in Insurgent Mexico (1918) or about the composition of the first Soviet government in Ten Days That Shook The World. And the same thing happens to us with the books by Edward Snow about different phases of the Chinese revolution. Nothing more understandable, in that case, than the interest that has been awakened in the Mexican writer Alma Guillermoprieto, a great reporter who is a mentor to reporters throughout the Americas, by the political situation Venezuela is living, presented to the entire world by Hugo Chávez as the first revolutionary process of the XXI century.

But before speaking about this recent and prodigious encounter, it's worth mentioning that, if Chávez and the government he has imposed on us have been the subject of reports, essays and books by other authors, no less prestigious than Guillermoprieto, these have occurred within the dawning of the regime. This author's essays, on the other hand, are focused on what aligns itself organically with our most recent events, when it is no longer only us Venezuelans but the entire world that questions, between joy and weeping, the regime's true nature.

Ignacio Ramonet, Claude Lemoine or Richard Gott have spoken about what Chávez told them regarding his revolutionary projects, while Alma Guillermoprieto is concerned, in the essays we will comment on, with how much she can help us understand the true nature of Chavismo. Is it a revolutionary, democratic, anti-imperialist process? In what symbols still sunk in the past, or still uncertain or imprecise in the horizon, can we detect what awaits us?

This is what the two pieces AG has published in the American magazine The New York Review of Books speak to us about, "Don't Cry for Me, Venezuela," which appeared in the October 10 edition and was translated by El Nacional on October 30 under the title "No llores por mí Venezuela," and "The Gambler" (El Jugador), which hasn't been published yet in Venezuela.

AG orchestrates her symphony in three movements about Chávez and not about Chavismo and even less about el proceso. In the first, the author reveals herself to be an heir to preceding reporters about Chávez.

She repeats the same melody about Chávez's prodigious capacity to communicate through TV and radio, but already in these initial comments she announces the methodology she will use to untangle the determining or, as it is often said, essential features of the man who governs us. In effect, AG presents the actions of Hugo Chávez that allow her to investigate only those traces in his legal and democratic aspect, which usually only reach the surface of things. As for what exists that is illegal, arbitrary and despotic, what is nothing more than masked violence, she remains silent. In this way, Aló Presidente is produced "for the benefit of his nation" and so that people find out about his immediate plans.Not even a single word about the torture this TV program represents for those who are forced to listen to it. And in the same manner we are told, in a second movement, about Chávez's dreams, about his behavior in the conspiration and in the coup attempt. AG speaks of Chávez's awareness of being a predestined leader, but not a single word that might demonstrate that concern for the poor and for the entire country that he now wants to boast about. However, the strongest movement is that which concerns Chávez's strategy for achieving his supreme objective, which is none other than maintaining himself in power. Conscious that, beyond the electoral triumphs he has obtained, he doesn't actually have a majority of the electorate, he "plays a high risk game: he governs (...) as if he had a national mandate to carry out his Bolivarian Revolution."

We could think that with this dialectical game between the manifested and the hidden, AG reveals to us that Chávez is a tyrant. And that is the case, but only so we know that we will have this tyrant for a long time, as she explains quite well at the end of "Don't Cry for Me, Venezuela," and throughout "The Gambler," the second report which we will comment on after its publication in Venezuela.

{ Oswaldo Barreto, TalCual, 4 November 2005 }

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