Venezuela: A Truly Dangerous Moment

A considerable and diverse group of writers, professors, intellectuals and artists have written a document about the current Venezuelan situation, offering a reflection on the already evident dangers of Maduro’s totalitarian tendencies, while also invoking the paths of understanding and plurality, with a particular accent on the value of the humanities and education for the country to come.

At a moment of economic, social and political crisis, it occurs to the President of the Republic —after delaying regional elections and torpedoing the convocation of a recall referendum— to invent a so-called National Constituent Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente) of a clearly fraudulent, mendacious and spurious nature. Given the circumstances, after more than one hundred days of continuous protests on the streets of Venezuela, it is a civilian concern to insist over and over again on the inconvenience and irresponsibility of that convocation, especially by a unilateral government, incapable of producing consensus, or sense, and much less confidence, among Venezuelans. Added to these concerns is the brutal, indolent and systematic repression executed by the Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivariana), among other shock troops, whose violent nature is more than clear. We are facing a massacre, especially of young people, executed with shocking and cold precision by the State. In many cases, the victims themselves, through social media, have documented these abuses.

As expected, because of the government’s dictatorial nature, it manipulates the constitution and uses public powers for its own convenience, as well as creating a “commission” —made up of their own, their most radical— to advance the constituent simulacrum it’s trying to sell. There is a considerable variety of arguments from the legal world that reveal overwhelming clarities about the unconstitutional nature of that imposition. One substantial symptom, within this chaotic process, is found in the continuous breaks and criticisms that have emerged within Chavismo itself, all of which announce clear signs of a fracture; and why not, maybe even of a crisis of consciousness within those groups that assume a loyalty to the constitution of 1999, with whom we must join forces, given that now is not the time for partisan battles, nor minor differences, but instead the time to defend and give an impulse to a country where all the different and even antagonistic postures can coexist democratically. The list of these ruptures within Chavismo would be too long to enumerate, but the most evident one is led by the current Attorney General of the Republic, Luisa Ortega Díaz, and her recent declarations. In the National Electoral Council, actually, opinions are also divided, judging by the interventions of the elections official Luis Emilio Rondón.

The president and his men only want to entrench themselves in power, gain more time, avoid legal elections and take back by force the seats in the National Assembly they weren’t able to obtain with votes so they can permanently install themselves in power. They propose to make a suit for themselves to help install a project that will keep the entire country under submission. Now the so-called best constitution in the world, the one that would last one hundred years, according to certain pompous pronouncements during these terrible years, from one day to the next is no longer convenient for them. This reveals a type of government that [mistakenly] calls itself “progressive” and is only sustained by brute force, wanting to lead Venezuela once again to the times of our worst military regimes.

Because of all this, our goal is to generate spaces for democratic encounters, carrying out articles 333 and 350 of the current Constitution, demanding from the opposition leadership —including new leaders, in the process of conformation— that they provide the first signals for achieving a peaceful and democratic transition, urgent general elections, the renewal of public powers, the freeing of all political prisoners, the disarming of violent groups and the consequent call for the conformation of a project for a plural country, based on the possibilities found in the current Constitution, just as they also take urgent economic measures that won’t affect the people, help stop the repression, allowing the identification by the Attorney General’s office of those responsible for these crimes, supporting the guarantee of the right to protest and move about at will, and the right to a quality education.

Let this also be an opportunity to note that culture will have to play a fundamental role in the country to come. We’re not talking about another round of circumstantial appointments and ministerial powers, but rather reflections and proposals for attaining spaces for understanding the nature of our situation and destiny as Venezuelans. Education, from its first moments until the university, should be prominent in the formation of citizens critical of any abuse of power, conscious of how important it is to defend democratic values, as well as considering the historic, continental and global climates they form part of as citizens, with the freedom to decide and to develop in a country that doesn’t flood the younger generations in blood and death, as the current government now does.

In sum: the country to come should think, among other urgent elements, about the importance of culture in the educational process of Venezuelans. That’s why we think the word should be action and reflection, a path for expressing what has been assaulted within us, what could provide an outlet for both pain and thought, to the rational and the irrational. We sustain that the word is not an emptiness, it is the royal and common way to justice, understanding, solidarity and responsibility.

There’s no more time to lose: the street should be the way to recover our citizenship. A street whose only end should be the return of democracy and freedom for Venezuelans. Let the doors of transition open up definitively.

Alfredo Chacón
Ana Teresa Torres
Elías Pino Iturrieta
José Balza
Elisa Lerner
Victoria de Stefano
Rafael Cadenas
Igor Barreto
Yolanda Pantin
Vasco Szinetar
Joaquín Marta Sosa
Rafael Arráiz Lucca
Miguel Ángel Campos

Alejandro Oliveros
Milagros Socorro
Nelson Rivera
Fernando Rodríguez
Armando Rojas Guardia
Antonio López Ortega
Rafael Castillo Zapata
Santos López
Luis Miguel Isava
Nelson Garrido
María Teresa Boulton

Gabriela Kizer
María del Pilar Puig
Sandra Caula
Edda Armas
Carmen Verde
Luz Marina Rivas
Diómedes Cordero
Harry Almela
Alberto Márquez
Miguel Gomes
Maribel Espinoza

Violeta Rojo
Jacqueline Goldberg
Carmen Alicia Di Pascuale
Álvaro Sotillo
Luis Gerardo Mármol Bosch
Alfredo Herrera
Alberto Hernández
Gisela Kozak
Miguel Von Dangel

Alexis Romero
Diana López
Angelina Jaffe
Nela Ochoa
Xiomara Jiménez
Teresa Casique
Silda Cordoliani
Sonia González
Faitha Nahmens Larrazábal

Jaime Bello-León
Katyna Henríquez
María Elena Maggi
Francisco Javier Pérez
Juan Carlos Méndez Guédez
Carlos Germán Rojas
Juan Cristóbal Castro
Carlos Sandoval
Isabel Cisneros
Juan Carlos Chirinos
Natalia Mingotti
Gabriela Fontanillas
Hernán Zamora
Julieta Salas Carbonell
Ana María Hurtado
Corina Michelena Poggioli
Krina Ber
Ana María Del Re
Karl Krispin
Elisa Maggi
Néstor Mendoza

Rosa María Tovar
Luis Alfredo Álvarez
José Luis Pérez Quintero
Gala Garrido Lozada
Blanca Rivero
Eleonora Requena
Geraldine Gutiérrez-Wienken
Diosce Martínez
Carlos Alfredo Marín
Héctor Torres

Vince De Benedittis
María Elena Huizi Castillo
Cristina Guzmán
Diana Arismendi
Geraudí González
Pedro Plaza Salvati
Kira Kariakin
Diego Arroyo Gil
Luis Moreno Villamediana
Florencio Quintero

Luis Perozo Cervantes
José Delpino
Francisco Catalano
Jairo Rojas
José Humberto Antequera Ortiz
Rafael Sánchez
Ricardo Ramírez Requena
Paula Vásquez
Alejandro Sebastiani Verlezza
Luis Yslas
Rodrigo Blanco Calderón
Alberto Bueno Rangel
Luis Barboza Bruzual
Brandol Manuel Alejos
Vicente Ulive-Schnell

{ Papel Literario, El Nacional, 16 July 2017 }

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