Democracy is not negotiable
There is no dialogue, consensus or agreement aside
I view with concern and worry the initiative of dearest friends who form part of the democratic opposition at a national dialogue.
This is apropos the setup by Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez of a State Council, after 13 years of the entry into force of the current Constitution. The only purpose of the State Council is, according to the president himself- advising him on his intended coup on constitutionality and our democratic liberties, namely: disregarding the individual right to the international protection of human rights.
Both proposals are wed in a dishonorable context for the Republic. Colonel Eladio Aponte Aponte, thus far the president of the Criminal Court of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), the comptroller of criminal justice and appointed as instructed by the president, avowed to the use of judges to chase dissenters, condemn non guilty and even pardon drug traffickers upon request or as indulged by other state authorities. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has depicted something similar in its reports on Venezuela.
Engaged in and worried, as many fellow citizens, about the achievement of full democracy able to move us farther from a Messianic revolution or military tutelage, I deem it my duty to explain some criteria to Venezuelans, nowadays prey of fear and swamped with uncertainty.
Democracy and those of us, who construe it as something else in addition to casting a ballot, are bound to dialogue, consensus and agreements. However, either formal democracy or democracy reduced to voting bounds on democracy itself. There is no room for dialogue or consensus, let alone agreement outside its constituent elements, which form part of its exercise. Democracy entails respect for human rights and constitutional freedoms and liberties; exercise of power in accordance with the rule of law; multiple ideas and political parties; free and fair election; independence and severability of public powers; probity and honesty; accountability of public servants; subordination of the army to the civilian authority, and freedom of speech and of the press.
Any Venezuelan, in good faith and aware, by means of a personal examination of ongoing events, can effortlessly certify that such essential components of democracy are nonexistent; they have totally vanished.
Therefore, one wonders about a potential dialogue, as proposed, with the government, with its State Council that is rather a Government Council, the composition of which reveals the entire State and its public branches tied around the Head of State, without any possibility of dissent.
And I wonder, what can the opposition speak with the regime, in view of the foregoing? About forgetting Aponte s remarks which unveil the narco-state or mafia-state that rules us, and its havoc in national decency?
If there is to be a dialogue with and about the country, as wished by democracy and abjured by the necessary gendarmes, such talk did take place during the primaries of last February. In that election, open to everybody, three million voters cast their ballots and the majority elected, among several candidates, a presidential candidate for democracy, who will take part in the upcoming election of October.
Is there any plausible talk with an irresponsible regime that says nothing about the very serious acts imputed to its court ally for years, who acknowledged that he executed such following presidential orders? Is there any plausible talk with an ad hoc State Council set to stage a true coup as the purpose that gathers it openly violates the Constitution?
In democracy, even majorities have a limit. They may not resolve the eradication of democracy or dismiss the rights of political minorities. Moral democracy precludes any dialogue or agreement outside its fixed principles. Moral democracy resists any dialogue between law and crime; only the needy make a deal with their kidnappers. Therefore, the proposed national dialogue is inexplicable at this time, unless everybody seeks to keep his/her assets and interests or political positions, convinced about the fate of the dictatorship, with or without President Chávez.
History, mother and teacher, tells that autocrats and their milieu keep themselves on the simmer until the eventual decline.
This happened to the militarist experiences of Juan Vicente Gómez and Marcos Pérez Jiménez. They finish off and pay for their felonies. Nobody from the civilian trench proposed them any dialogue. Nor did anybody, in the middle of the 21st Century and during the Arab Spring suggest an agreement to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who, incidentally, awarded a human rights prize to him, who opts to deny us the human right to seek protection from the Organization of American States (OAS) and its human rights system.
The author is an associate professor and doctor of laws; former IACHR magistrate and ex minister of Internal Affairs.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
Luis Jiménez Alfaro seems to have hidden under the rocks. The last time he was seen was on April 2006 walking calmly around Simón Bolívar International Airport of Maiquetía, located nearby Caracas. At that time, more than five tons of cocaine arrived in Mexico in an airplane which took off from Venezuela, and his name featured as a missing piece of the puzzle of one of the most massive drug shipments that has been witnessed in the Western Hemisphere.