CARACAS, Tuesday November 23, 2004 | Update
Special for El Universal
The pattern is unmistakable. Independent institutions from the courts to the congress, from PDVSA to the Central Bank, from governors to mayors, and in both public and private sectors, have been shackled, confined or suborned. Independent elections have been centralized, tabulated in secret, and reported as fact with the arrogance befitting a king. The freedoms of assembly and association have been impugned or prosecuted as a crime against the people. Free speech is under attack, and free speakers are charged with crimes with long prison terms for saying things the government does not like. Independent thinking is viewed as a threat to the political correctness of revolutionary dialectic, the litmus test for full citizenship and human rights that derive from government blessing, not human nature.
Freedom is ravaged in the name of freedom. Democracy is vandalized in the name of democracy. Justice is denied in the name of justice. Peace is sacrificed to violence and insecurity, and in the name of peace. Poverty increases in the name of its extirpation. The models to be idolized in the politically correct schools are Carlos the Jackal for justice, Muammar Qadafi for human rights, Robert Mugabe for democracy, and above all, Fidel Castro for all three. It is not that Venezuela is upside down, it is precisely the opposite, as has been publicly claimed. The world needs to realize it is not free, and that only Venezuela is free, sailing on a sleek sailboat in the glorious sea of happiness. As the new dialectic says, this is a truth which Bolivar or Christ would assert, were they to rise from the grave or descend from heaven to convince the doubting Thomas.
All this is possible with the price of an oil barrel at $50. Money backed by sheer power can pay for just about anything in this world. When people are hungry and insecure, and when there is only one source for work, income, shelter and the basics of life, people will go along with all kinds of talk in order to survive. This has happened in the distant past and in modern times. It happened on the plantations of Venezuela two hundred years ago, in Germany in the 1930s, in Vichy France a little later, and in slave societies from time immemorial. Whether freedom will be sacrificed when the oil price drops is a question for Venezuelans, with the exception of those who already believe what Aesop wrote 26 centuries ago, "Better starve free than be a fat slave."
Michael Rowan's column is published every Tuesday
02:57 PM. HEAVY RAINS. Venezuelan Executive Vice-President Elias Jaua reported that the government is designing plans to support farmers, cattlemen and peasants of the state of Mérida who have been hit by heavy rains that have caused crop losses.