Carlos Blanco's A Time to Talk, released on July 15
"After 14 years, the country wants to get rid of that immense yawn that comes from Miraflores"
Minimum or maximum rate?
Last Friday, an early call woke me up from my quiet morning sleep. It was the murmuring voice, like water flowing among the gravel of a river in Mérida, of Dolores, my red confidant. The husky whisper was enough to shake up my laziness and know that the comrade wanted to see me to present me with her war report; her war, the one she is fighting against her scruples and her irrational love for the "English patient" from Sabaneta.
She told me that The Chemist would pick me up and before the long telephone talk would have ended, the embarrassment of armored vans and the muffled noise from the exhaust pipes of the powerful motorbikes announced that the law enforcement forces were besieging my dwelling. This time, The Chemist made an odd request: I had to cover my head with a hood. The travel was infinite, but when I finally felt that we were driving down a ramp, I was invited to come back to clarity. I do not know if I was in the Country Club (upper-class neighborhood in Caracas), but it looked like it. When I was getting a little dazed off the car, Dolores appeared. She came from the pool of this formidable scarlet house; gleaming; with her skin that looks as if she would have stolen pieces of the sun, with a carrot-like, orange and copper orient, while she walked with her monumental body supported by the columns of her legs that end in those precious feet that have driven more than an armored unit crazy. I could not see the prosperous businessman or the powerful General that is courting her; I could only perceive like a lightning of power scattered over marble, far away from the modest apartment in Santa Mónica (Caracas middle-class neighborhood). Well... Dolores is Dolores, the woman that moves more threads than a revolutionary puppeteer.
THE GENERAL DISSATISFACTION OR THE DISSATISFIED GENERAL. While she dries her hair, moving her head from one side to another, throwing myriads of tiny drops over the drought world, she talks about the unease among people in uniform. She assumes an almost martial position to state: "At last, you have an advantage, which might be decisive, among the animus militari," adding that "the internal debate, albeit hidden, is about who are promoted with Hugo and who would be promoted with Capriles. Even though being a part of the civilian posts in Public Administration has represented big economic advantages and influences, a serious problem has been created because those are the most promoted ones, whereas officers at barracks are not as frequently."
-But Chávez does not appear to care much about that situation, I say. As long as main officers are fattened up, the rest does not have much weight...
-You are wrong; captains, majors and commanders, and even colonels that have fallen behind, who are true military, are now looking hopefully at a new administration.
-Those sympathies with the opposition surprise me, I say in an attempt to provoke her, while I observe the Copernican Shift of sorts Dolores makes with her daring militia woman legs.
-No. You know very well that people at barracks are tired of the government, but they do not like opposition politicians; they do not even still see your candidate as their Commander in Chief; but there is no doubt that with a new administration, promotions will take place at barracks rather than in civilian political posts. The real internal tragedy is that officers are scorned by Cubans, Iranians, left-wing radicals and many opposition members who believe they are servile but do not understand the very depths of their professional situation; even by the Chinese that are building homes at the Fort (Fuerte Tiuna military base, in Caracas) only with Chinese workers; and by intelligence officers that scan Generals with metal detectors.
MINIMUM RATE. The military topic fascinates Dolores. She has influences among scarlet military officers and knows that a single word whispered by her in the Sultan's ear can favor or destroy anyone. Somehow, her original enthusiasm, based on a very close and unfathomable personal relation with "Hugo," has turned into this sort of disenchantment that, notwithstanding, is not enough for her to cross to the other side of the river. "Me? Right-winger? Never!" She claims as if she truly believes that the red mess is typical of left-wing politics. Her assertions are denied right away by a smile that dissolves into sadness between her lips.
-The drama is that some want to rise up even if Hugo is defeated by votes, the she-general sighs.
Looking at my skeptical face, she continues: "Middle-rank officers prefer to pay the Minimum Rate,' that is, being tried by military courts for insubordination, which are just a few years of sentence, rather than the Maximum Rate,' i.e. shooting the people, which, according to the Rome Statute, is an imprescriptible crime for violation of human rights." I realize that the issue of impeding the election results is not very popular among military. Dolores tells me that military know how to do a sum and that one should not worry too much about generals: "Even though they want, they cannot, because the chain of command is too long as to prevent a short circuit from happening in any linkage, if illegal orders are given."
THEY WANT; BUT CAN THEY?
Chávez cannot take it anymore, I say my confident. It is not only his illness, but how boring it is. Even in refuges, the first thing people who survive there do is managing a cable TV connection to watch TV. The country flees from Chávez. It is not that Venezuelans are now on the opposition (some are; others are not), but that after 14 years, they want to get rid of that immense yawn filled with bacteria and bad breath that comes from Miraflores (presidential palace); a longer time than that of Hitler, Pérez Jiménez and others in power.
-Perhaps you are right; but it will not be easy. Military can be controlled, but armed collectives cannot and some of them have a sort of traveling stations just in case the revolution needs them...
-Dolores, I protest, those armed collectives do not resist an institutional action by the Armed Forces.
-The only way out you have, and the one that worries Hugo, is for the CNE (National Electoral Council) to divide not 4 to 1, but 3 to 2; three can proclaim one winner and the other two the other. There is one electoral comrade that also prefers to pay the minimum rate...
The thing that one can see after this sad appointment is that what Chávez represented in 1998, a voracious desire for change, is fading in discouragement. Meanwhile, Capriles is turning into hope. They want to stop him by means of violence and many of those that could exercise it are not willing to do it. Dolores and I remained hugged for a while as if a next encounter was dubious. She knows what is coming; me too...
Translated by Álix Hernández
About 210,000 Cubans have been to Venezuela until 2012, as part of an alliance established by Hugo Chávez. A number of agreements have enabled Cubans to take part in a wide range of government plans and social welfare, from health to national intelligence to security.