There were no surprises. Chavez’s victory in the recent Venezuelan elections, though not at all “strong” or “overwhelming”, as the leader would have liked and as the official Cuban media insists on calling it, was the most likely forecast. However, the Capriles’s undeniable summoning power and his achieving 44% at the polls, the highest in the whole process of the “Bolivarian” revolution, shows that the opposition is a consolidated force to be reckoned with in that nation. Henrique Capriles remains, after the presidential election, the candidate of hope, the promise of a possible future.
I, of course, wished Capriles his victory. Not only to turn another irksome page of Cuba’s begging and dependency under the setting of the Castro totalitarianism, but to enjoy the end of another threat to democracy in this hemisphere rolled into the person of the arrogant Venezuelan president. I’m of the thinking that prolonging Chavez’s stay in the presidential armchair will not save the Cuban regime’s from its defeat, and that the solution to the Cuban problem must come from the hands of Cubans on all shores and not from external junctures, though they can apply their influence for or against the speed of the decomposition of the dictatorship. Chavez, after all, is an annoying accident that will leave the stage eventually. Maybe nature will complete what the opposition could not accomplish this time.
Without trying to lay down guidelines, I believe, nonetheless, that democratic Venezuelans should not be discouraged by the results of these elections. Rather, they should understand how much they have achieved and advanced. It would be wrong to leave the country and allow the would-be dictator to continue squeezing it at will; it would be a shame to solve it by taking flight or feeling defeated. Some Venezuelan friends have written to me with deep regret, announcing that now they would leave the country. Please don’t. Let good Venezuelans look through Cuba’s mirror: stampedes are a relief for dictatorships and only succeed in extending their time in power. Don’t become, like us, a country of migrating mourners, and don’t allow them to wrench from you, as the Castros did to Cubans, what is rightfully yours.
Yesterday, around midnight, I got a message from my friend Antonio Rodiles on my cell phone. It read: “I thought Venezuela would turn into a democracy first, but it seems that we will be the ones…” It was an encouraging message that reminded me of the importance of keeping the faith and fighting for what we want. Democracy continues to be the dream that Venezuelans and Cubans pursue. I would tell free Venezuelans today: Don’t dismay, only you can prevent the triumph of authoritarianism… the polls spoke loud and clear about you. May it be so.
October 8 2012