INTERVIEW | Asdrúbal Aguiar, Ph.D. in Law

"Worried about their inheritance, they betrayed their own father"

"Chávez made a call for the boys to preserve the nation's stability" "The opposition has an accurate and legitimate view of reality, but it remains fragmented"

Asdrúbal Aguiar believes that one of the tragedies surrounding the impending government succession is the predominance of militarism despite Maduro having been anointed by Chávez himself (Photo:Vicente Correale)
Saturday February 16, 2013  12:00 AM
Asdrúbal Aguiar sees narrowing the nation's issues to solving material needs or claiming, as many do, that Venezuelans are only worried about having food on their tables instead of living under democracy, as a limited and unfair perspective lacking the moral consistency and political culture required to fight for our basic rights.

Aguiar, who recently published a book titled Anti-Constitutional Venezuelan History, in which he thoroughly analyzes acts against the Constitution attributed by him to Hugo Chávez's government, calls for a "new nationwide consensus" based on diversity and aimed at consolidating unity around specific objectives to reestablish the social solidarity that has dissolved over the last 15 years as a result of a flawed institutional framework.

"The first step to determine what type of therapy Venezuela currently requires is to make an accurate diagnosis of its illness because, if we fumble our prognosis, treatment may result unsuitable. If we, as a majority, believe that the country, despite its difficulties, continues to stand, regardless of highs and lows, and that nothing is wrong, though much has gone awry; then social and political actors would continue to conduct themselves as if everything were normal."

-The problem is that the factor that determines power has left, though not entirely, the scene. This deeply alters the issue and generates great uncertainty and vagueness.  

-In Physics, voids are filled. Whoever holds power fills those voids and nothing else happens. But there is a deeper problem, which may seem like a nuisance, but it is far from it: Since 1999, Hugo Chávez and his cronies have gulped down the brew of democracy. Now, 14 years later, only an empty jar remains of what was once the institutional and Republican mold that, one way or another, preserved solidarity, which has now been seriously undermined, amongst Venezuelans and prevented us from drifting into an even more precarious situation.

-Yet we have nonetheless drifted.

-On January 10, a ruling by the nation's top court shatters that mold by thrusting it toward the ground and placing a tombstone over it. At present, we face a tragedy brought about by democratic fallacies; this is not the same country it was for at least half a century.

-Now, the one benefiting from unlimited power is in no position to do so, and the would-be heirs to the throne lack the stoutness to fill that void.   

-Chavezism comprises the pieces to a large puzzle. Antagonistic interests have, in spite of everything, a unifying element that is not an ailing Chávez, but the need to survive the possibility of losing power and being personally exposed to a cataclysm. Consequently, a utilitarian solidarity emerges, but not as a result of political or institutional vision, because they ultimately went on to betray Hugo Chávez.

- Did that betrayal not also turn out to be a strategic error?

-The Chávez situation was, in a way, a call for the boys to do the bare minimum required to preserve the nation's stability. But they were more preoccupied with the inheritance and ultimately betrayed their dying father and manipulated their own reality to attempt to sustain a power structure that could not last because of the antagonistic interests that divide them.

-What is the opposition's role within this context?

-The opposition, with accurate and legitimate views though not entirely in touch with reality, is fragmented. There is a systemic sector defending the Republic, upholding sovereignty and protecting the formal components of the state from a Communist invasion, but all the same failing to complement its vision with technological support, much unlike Chávez, who leveled the Jurassic Park engulfing Socialism with the tempo of the 21st Century. Another sector, quite vivaciously, seeks to play housekeeping: repairing potholes and meeting needs. That is a worthwhile endeavor, yet it misses out on the central issue because, despite the arbitrary handling of the economy, Venezuelans were certain to never go hungry. Finally, there is a third sector, which may very well miss the train by waiting near the rails instead of at the station and risking being run over by the train itself: a sector willing to talk to both God and the devil. In the end, Ariadne's Thread, binding and guiding them toward a common goal, is nowhere to be found.

-From this perspective, would it not make it easier for all if Chávez returned?

-A healthy country cannot remain bound by the finite reality of a gendarme, regardless of his level of charisma. Chávez could very well come back, but at a given point in time, he will disappear. Then a whole new different void would exist.

-Many claimed that, because of his non-military background and his past as a union leader, Maduro could have had a different attitude, but they were wrong.

-That is one of the dramas unfolding in this succession process because a military stance seems to be dominating. If Chávez were to appoint Maduro definitely as his successor, power would actually be structurally given to political party MBR 200 (not to government party PSUV) because the incumbent governors of critical states belong to the former, a military faction used to rules of engagement and strict obedience and not to dialogue. Maduro, who could set things into motion, does not seem inclined toward a totalitarian stance. He is, at the end of the day, only a pawn for the Castro brothers, who do not engage in dialogue with dissenters unless doing so suits them for a specific purpose. The issue here is not what the government thinks or Chávez's health or whether he returns to the country or not. The central problem is that the opposition needs to understand the role it has to play in this agonistic transition for the Republic.

Translated by Félix Rojas Alva
The end of a cycle

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Brazil on March 13 to demand the ouster of embattled President Dilma Rousseff, carrying banners expressing anger at bribery scandals and economic woes. A banner read "We don't want a new Venezuela in Brazil."

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