Refundar la democracia / Oswaldo Barreto

To Reestablish Democracy

The political program that, with promptness and energy rarely seen in our history, Hugo Chávez assumed, once he was carried into the presidency by a clear majority of Venezuelans manifested in democratic elections, could be summarized in our title's three words: To reestablish democracy. Immediately dismissing the temptation to give in to the usual triumphal celebrations, he assumed this task, without disguising that he considered himself predestined to accomplish the task and, with that action, to a glory comparable to the founders of the Venezuelan nation. As the dorsal spine of the projected reestablishment, he conceived the elaboration of a Constitution destined to luminously amend the anti-democratic plagues that had prospered under the shadow of another Constitution for forty years, that previous one also having emerged with the desire to recover democracy, but made vile by political practices that impaired its original purposes. Some of those plagues were explicitly identified and their causes and reasons were radically battled against thanks to a panoply of new and audacious constitutional texts.

This was the case with the series of articles and considerations in the Magna Carta destined for eliminating the exclusion and discrimination that reigned in our political life and to simultaneously foment the widest and most profound participation of the citizenry, in all the spheres interweaving that political life.

People who up until then were marginalized or completely excluded were called by the Constitution and the laws to responsibly concern themselves with all public affairs, both at the municipal level, as well as regional and national levels. The Constitution even demands that members of the military leave their bases to vote or to accomplish tasks in the civilian world. And Venezuela’s indigenous population is literally imposed upon with the obligation to elect and be elected.

Seven years since those promising days when Chávez established himself as a demigod of the new democracy, no one can ignore the absolutely opposite nature of the results actually achieved so far. Beneath the spider web of new laws and new powers, the largest and most diversified exclusion and discrimination we have ever encountered in our history is being shrouded. And in the exercise of public powers, there is only one real actor: Hugo Chávez.

This is the democracy his regime offers us today.

And it is within this context that the electoral campaign, in which we who oppose the regime are now involved, is situated. It is a matter of reestablishing democracy once again. This is what is magisterially summarized today by Julio Borges, when he says that the task he and [Teodoro] Petkoff and [Manuel] Rosales are proposing together is to “Democratically defeat a system that is not democratic.”

{ Oswaldo Barreto, Tal Cual, 26 April 2006 }

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