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TEMA: The Birdie Told Me President

The Birdie Told Me President 04 Jul 2019 00:11 #11025

Hace mas de seis años –en Abril del 2013- publiqué este escrito sobre Venezuela en “The Buenos Aires Herald”, que bien pudiera haber escrito ayer nomas…


Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The birdie told me president
By Cubargie Joe (José Manuel Pallí)

LATINOS R US

I have always felt that in politics, as a general rule, no one is as good as his or her panegyrists exalt him or her to be, nor as bad as pictured by the inevitable detractors. That is one way in which I preserve myself from falling into extremist political or ideological positions and beliefs, the kind that feed the high levels of polarization that have become the norm in many countries and many societies today. I believe being anti-someone or something harms us all more than we realize.

In the Argentina I grew up in, I tried to stay away from the historical dichotomies — Federalism vs Unitarism, Peronism vs anti-Peronism — by keeping a balance so as to see the good and the bad sides in characters such as Juan Manuel de Rosas and Juan Domingo Perón. With regard to my native Cuba, it was a lot harder to stay away from an anti-Castro position, because the wounds were too fresh and the wounded were all around and very close to me.

But that balance is becoming even harder to achieve in the case of Venezuela, for me and, apparently, for a good-sized portion of a Venezuelan society more divided and polarized than most other countries in similar circumstances. It is not just the almost even split of the electorate — the same split has characterized society in the United States for years now — but the depth of the mutual aversion between the two sides in contention. For the past 12 years, I have failed miserably every time I have tried to help friends from both camps to find some common ground.

Hugo Chávez’s successor as president, Nicolás Maduro, is taking that polarization to an even higher level. And he is doing it not just through the colorfully aggressive rhetoric that has become a staple of the Bolivarian Revolution he has pledged to radicalize. He is encouraging that polarization by way of his sheer incompetence and lack of leadership, evidenced by his squandering of close to a million of the votes gathered by his mentor just six months ago.

Trying to find the good side to Maduro is a difficult task. He may be a good-natured man for all I know, since his aggressiveness sounds staged and caricaturesque. But by trying to imitate his role model, the departed founder of Chavismo, he is getting ever more close to proving that there will be no Chavismo without Chávez to speak of.

Talking of radicalizing a revolutionary process when you know that at least 50 percent of your constituents are furiously against it seems crazy. But the president who takes his cues from little birds may be digging himself an even deeper hole vis-á-vis his contenders for the leadership of the Venezuelan United Socialist Party.

Venezuela faces a long list of problems in the months ahead, but most perceive the public safety issue as the larger and most disruptive one in their daily lives. Maduro seems awkwardly ill suited to confronting the violence that pervades Venezuelan society when compared with say, Diosdado Cabello, the president of the Venezuelan legislature, or Francisco Arias Cárdenas, the governor of the state of Zulia. Both of them have a military background and were Chavistas from day one. In fact, one of them may end up being the true winner of this last election, after Maduro’s poor showing.

The opposition, incarnated in the quixotic figure of “el flaco” Capriles and led by a brilliant strategist, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, has rung the government’s bell as noisily as ever. And waiting on the wings is the most charismatic Venezuelan politician of today, Leopoldo López. He also has the bloodlines, the pedigree, to convince those who cringe at the idea of going back to the Venezuela of yore. More than one Venezuelan government persecuted and imprisoned his great-uncle, Víctor M. López, who was an exile for a good part of his life. Don Víctor had a brilliant mind — he was the first Latin American to obtain a PHD from MIT — and the noblest of Venezuelan souls. From his lips it was that I first heard, more than 35 years ago, the word kleptocracy as the best way to describe his country’s political system. It seems to be up to them and to the “military wing” of Chavismo to find a way to negotiate the chasm that has the country split in two and living under the cloud of a dubious election result.

For President Maduro, it may be time to reconsider his own abilities and disabilities and to check back with the aviary; hopefully, birdie will tell him to slow down and will realize that his greatest blunder in his fifteen-year political career was appointing Maduro as his successor.

José Manuel Pallí is a Cuban-born lawyer, originally trained in Argentina and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1985.
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