Nicolas Maduro’s Insults / 14ymedio, Luis Nieto

The secretary general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro. (OAS)
The secretary general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro. (OAS)

Background from Translating Cuba: Uruguayan Luis Almargo, secretary-general of the Organization of American States, sent a letter to Venezuela’s National Electoral Council this November regarding potential irregularities in the upcoming elections and condemning the assassination of an opposition politician at a campaign rally. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro responded by saying, “to call Almagro a piece of trash is an insult to trash.”

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luis Nieto, 5 December 2015 – It is not Nicolas Maduro’s insults that provoke sadness, but rather the reaction of Luis Almagro’s compatriots, because the current secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) is a Uruguayan senator from the Popular Participation Movement (MPP), the majority group of the Broad Front (Frente Amplio). If the ex-president and senator José Mujica and the MPP are informed about the Venezuelan situation, it is even more incomprehensible that they can be so hard on Almargo, who is demanding guarantees for the opposition within a democratic system, as required by Mercosur (the Southern Common Market) of its partners.

Or perhaps Almagro was unknown to ex-president Mujica or was imposter during his tenure as Foreign Minister in Mujica’s administration. What matters now is knowing whether the OAS secretary general will fulfill the duty of overseeing the quality of democracy of the countries that make up the institution that he leads, or will be distracted, like his predecessor José Miguel Insulza was, when he served at the head of the regional institution.

In Venezuela, we have seen the closing of newspapers and the purchase of radio and TV stations with public funds and their subsequent operation by Chavistas; the express dismissal of elected deputies at the will of the president of the National Assembly and the regime’s number two, Lieutenant Diosdado Cabello; the imprisonment on false evidence of governors and mayors elected by popular vote; the detention and prosecution of students simply for demonstrating in the streets; the financing and provisioning of paramilitary groups such as El Picure which, curiously, is now mentioned as possibly responsible for the assassination of the Social Democrat leader Luis Manuel Diaz; use of the Venezuela’s state-owned oil company (PDVSA) for partisan purposes, because none of this could have been done without generous cash.

Venezuela lacks nothing that one would see in any dictatorship, although, it is true, it maintains a very thin crust of democratic formality. Lately we have heard the argument that in the Caribbean the kind of insult Maduro uses to disqualify Almargo is nothing unusual. It is also true that Chavez dispatched insults with pleasure when he wanted to illustrate his contempt toward someone. And in Cuba, as well, the term “worm” is applied to those who oppose the Castro regime.

But wanting to generalize this behavior to the entire Caribbean region is an unjustified excuse not to clearly reject Maduro’s insult to Almagro. He said it one, two, three, several times and from various angles, so as to leave no doubt. He is accustomed to showing the whip to his friends, and has called the Uruguayan vice president a coward. Who’s next?

Almagro isn’t speaking based the politics that drove the president he served under, Mujica, he is the highest authority of the OAS, and it is logical that his opinion represents the plurality of the countries that make up that organization, and which are beginning to tire faced with a regime that only flees forward, indebting the country to China and Russia to disguise its extravagances.

Maduro, a cocky blowhard who doesn’t respond to ridicule as he relates in details the conversations he has with birds, still generates some kind of expectation in the Latin American left. In private, the whole world is laughing at him, but he continues to feed the hopes that this is the path to socialism.

Living in the limbo of political ethics is dangerous, and more dangerous if you occupy important positions, or take advantage of your notoriety to spread the idea that anything goes. In Chavismo there is no possibility of moving toward socialism. None. Rather, the regime seems inspired by “the worse the better,” so any little help in increasing the arbitrariness, the institutional loss of prestige, the loss of the decision-making power of citizens, is welcome.

Fidel Castro had already raised complacent smiles with his use of the term “pluralcrap” to refer to the system of political parties with which Uruguay has built its society. The left let it go, like a vitality that, perhaps, it continues to share.

Maduro’s insult should raise a unanimous and unambiguous condemnation, first of all by Almagro’s partners. When it comes to human rights there is no territoriality, or is there? True or not, Uruguayan deputy Maria Macarena Gelman? You, more than almost anyone, bear witness to the fact that human rights have no country.

The letter Almargo wrote to Tibisay Lucena, Chavista president of the National Electoral Council, is a clear compendium of the unfavorable conditions that the Chavista regime imposes on the opposition, ahead of the December 6 parliamentary elections.

Apart from Maduro’s insulting language, which should be broadly rejected by the Uruguayan left, it is the threat, implying that if the opposition wins he will resist from the streets, and we already know what that means: calling up his civil-military alliance against the Democratic Unity Roundtable of Venezuela.

From the head of the Executive Branch, with the Armed Services at his command, Maduro is announcing that he will take control of the streets and, in this case, he will engage in, among others, the same crimes that he himself invented in order to prosecute Leopoldo Lopez, San Cristóbal Mayor Daniel Ceballos and Mayor of Metropolitan Caracas Antonio Ledezma, among more than one hundred political prisoners. With the aggravating circumstance in this case that Maduro will oppose, with the use of public force, a decision that emanates from the popular vote. An announced coup d’etat, nothing more, nothing less. Does Almagro’s letter to Venezuela still make no sense?

Maduro, and Latin American governments as well, started badly because they were blind to the amount of evidence of fraud presented by the Venezuelan opposition in asking for an audit of the election data. Many of these governments, we must not forget, were recipients of the millions that Chavez stole from Venezuela in order to create an favorable environment internationally for himself. Not only can it be said they were bribes, because they were delivered as solidarity donations with great fanfare, but, how else can one classify the suitcase full of cash that Antonini Wilson took from Caracas to Buenos Aires in a plane belonging to the state oil company, as if everything were Chavismo’s private property, to the shame of his gullible friends?

Did Uruguay not receive, among so many other gifts, the electronic scoreboard for Centenario Stadium, 10 million dollars for clinics, and even what was necessary to remodel the building now occupied by the President of the Republic? Why would the Venezuelan government give Uruguay this money, which belonged not to it but to its people, when today its people don’t even have toilet paper?

When Maduro insults Almagro he insults all those who are following with great concern what is happening in Venezuela, where we have family and friends. He reminds us too much of what we experienced in Uruguay and, as well, of the courageous attitude of the government of the late Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez, the only Latin American government that broke off relations with the Uruguayan dictatorship, following its abduction of Elena Quintero from the grounds of the Venezuelan embassy in Uruguay. The same Carlos Andres Perez against whom, years later, Chavez, Maduro, Cabello and Cilia Flores attempted a coup d’etat. Even if only by the margin of doubt before these attitudes, all Uruguayans should take Madruo’s words as a personal grievance.


14ymedio Editorial Note: This op-ed was previously published in the Uruguayan weekly Voces. It is reproduced here with permission.