Dangerous Friendships / Regina Coyula

’Comrade’ Mario Silva, from the Venezuelan TV show “La Hojilla” (The Razor)

More than any series on American television, Hojillagate* has me on tenterhooks waiting for new revelations. It’s not that surprising on a macro scale, but knowing some details reveals the depth of Cuba’s influence in the intricacies of Venezuelan politics. Comrade Mario Silva*, in his detailing of events, recalls his conversation with Fidel Castro in which the latter didn’t understand why Chavez did not eliminate bourgeois elections. Castro had already made similar suggestions to the Sandinistas, and had to swallow a bitter pill when his Nicaraguan pupils lost the election to Violeta Chamorro. The Dioscuri avenged the defeat with a maneuver known as the “piñata”; they were temporarily removed from power, but from that point forward, they were revolutionaries who were very much richer.

The Castro regime advice to seize power and adjust the institutions to remain in power comes as no surprise. Our non-bourgeois elections benchmark us to the former socialist countries; a similar model, with Caribbean and Latin American flavor, was applied in Cuba.

It is also the new method applied to the Asiatic electoral system in China and Vietnam, and in this thing called North Korea, which so little is known of, it’s not even applied. They are elections in which the citizen never vote for their president, a structure in which the “people power” is homeopathic, designed to chose distant beings with no ties to the masses.

This disdain is present in Comrade Mario Silva, concerned that the people can spoil his revolution. The comrade not original, it’s commonplace in totalitarian systems (or those that aspire to be) for leaders to always speak on behalf of the people; through this process manage to convince a more or less numerous group of what they are talking about because they interpret and embed it in the deepest popular thinking.

The director of La Hojilla dismisses the opportunity that these “bourgeois” elections have given the Latin American left to come to power, and has allowed large voting blocks in international conclaves when votes come up to the benefit of dissidents (Cuba, Venezuela).

And while Comrade Mario Silva contacts the Cuban official he reports to, the respected International Republican Institute (IRI) found in a survey of opinions within Cuba that citizens born and raised in the electoral system of indirect voting, the same citizens who are afraid to express their opinions, vote mainly for the desire to vote–forgive the repetition–for the office of president.

I think differently from Comrade Mario Silva and Fidel Castro. Much of what we know as civilization is concerned with bourgeois society and with values that have brought us this far. What breaks from that heritage is subject to trial and error and, in our case, elections are not only not bourgeois but have failed to demonstrate superiority over their predecessor. Not only are they far from perfect (which is perfectible), they have allowed failed and anti-democratic rulers their own periods of monarchy.

And as my thoughts are running in another direction, I’m convinced that we have to have a road to democracy, I believe citizens, working people, the masses, the plebes, whatever you call it, those who don’t know and make mistakes, have to be those who can throw out any politician with the last word at the polls.

Regina Coyula | La Habana | 28 May 2013

Translator’s note:
Hojillagate: Mario Silva is a television personality in Venezuela with a show called “La Hojilla” — The Razor. A recording of Silva talking on the phone with a senior Cuban intelligence official, identified as Lt. Col. Aramis Palacios, was leaked on 20 May 2013, causing a great scandal. A brief summary in English can be read here.