Rafael Cadenas Accuses Chávez of Building a “Disguised Dictatorship” in Venezuela

[Photo: Gabriel Osorio, El Nacional]

Valladolid, 21 May (EFE). – This afternoon the Venezuelan poet Rafael Cadenas has accused the president of his country, Hugo Chávez, of creating a “parallel army” and of building a “disguised dictatorship” primarily through the manipulation of audio-visual media in order to control and manipulate public opinion.

“The most precise definition is a militaristic autocracy,” Rafael Cadenas (Barquisimeto, 1930) has declared to EFE before participating in a reading at the Casa Zorrilla of Valladolid, where he arrives after visiting Málaga and participating in the IV International Festival of Poetry in Granada last week.

If Colombia suffers “the great tragedy of an endless war,” in Venezuela’s case “there’s an extremely serious situation because this president is a threat: he has created a parallel army and is ultimately preparing a war no one knows exactly against whom.”

Hugo Chávez “talks a great deal against the “empire,” but I believe this is actually done in order to dominate Venezuelan society,” reflected the poet, essayist, translator and author of collections such as Los cuadernos del destierro (1960), Falsas maniobras (1966) and Intemperie (1977).

He also referred to the “war rhetoric” that emanates from the spheres of power in Venezuela, with a president “more concerned with the cult of his personality fed by shameful adulations and that, like many other leaders, he considers himself to be supported by what they call God, whom they turn into their own lackey, putting him at their own service and speaking in his name, but in the end they turn him into a criminal.”

“Venezuela is a divided country and you can’t go on in that fashion: among intellectuals there is a sector that supports the government and another that rejects it,” added Cadenas, who has recognized within his poetic work an evolution toward texts that are simpler, less literary, more naked, plagued by silences “in order to place the reader inside.”

He also admitted his poetry is not easy to read or even understand, and he has defined it as “simple while also being complex, ironic and reticent.”

When he referred to Venezuela as a “disguised dictatorship” he explained that in the press, despite everything, “one can express oneself and I ask myself: Why? Very simple, because the government knows the masses don’t read articles and interviews but they do watch television and listen to the radio, which is where he puts pressure and vigilance.”

He operates in this manner in hopes of reaching a “communicational hegemony” based on “TV stations and networks of local radio stations perfect for dominating,” Cadenas added.

Cadenas, whose complete works have been published in a volume by the Pre-Textos publishing house recalled how in his own moment he was able to access Spanish writers of the Generation of 98 and the poets of 27 – among whom he cited Pedro Salinas, Jorge Guillén and Luis Cernuda – with more ease than certain more contemporary, though already dead, authors like José Ángel Valente, Ángel González y Claudio Rodríguez.

He has declared his admiration for Saint John of the Cross, to whom he dedicated a brief essay in 1977, “but not only because of his poetry, but rather for his thought, that of a radical mystic closer to the Asian current that interests me so much.”

Regarding his frequent travels, the Venezuelan writer has pointed out he likes them because they’re “useful for feeling the atmosphere of places” where his preferred authors spent time.

Last week he visited Granada and participated in a reading alongside the Colombian Piedad Bonnett and the Federico García Lorca house, in Málaga he participated in an academic event in the Centro de la Generación del 27, and in Valladolid he visited the houses of Cervantes and José Zorrilla, as well as following the trace of Saint Teresa of Ávila at one of her first foundations.

“You can’t imagine what it represents for us. Spain is very present in Venezuela, including in my native city which was first called Nueva Segovia de Barquisimeto,” he concluded.

{ El Nacional, 21 May 2008 }

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