At the end of 2004, it seemed as if this were another country, when the people -at last- celebrated Christmas in peace. The headlong opposition politicians abandoned their longwinded ranting through the media, and now one can even listen to news on television. These politicians have now been displaced by “experts”, who in a different tone --perhaps more in agreement with the new media law that requires speakers to be responsible about what they say through the media--, try to explain the country’s reality, that is now unfavorable to them.
But perhaps the president is the one who has a clear vision of the situation: a new and deeper battle is beginning, the enemy is still intact, taking positions, beyond state governorships, beyond mayorships, beyond what is visible, beyond Venezuela, he said. Perhaps stealthily, perhaps unnoticed, like a chamaleon. “We must demolish the old regime ideologically,” he added.
Upon launching his strategy, “The Leap Forward”, president Hugo Chávez defined its ten main goals a) To move ahead in the conformation of a new social structure, b) to articulate and upgrade the new communicational strategy, c) to move ahead promptly in the design of a new democratic model of popular participation, d) to accelerate the creation of the new institutional structure of the State, e) to activate a new integral and efficient strategy against corruption, f) to develop the new electoral strategy, g) to accelerate the construction of the new productive model, on the way to the creation of the new economic system, h) to continue the installation of the new territorial structure, i) to deepen and to accelerate the conformation of the new national military strategy, j) to continue supporting the new multi-polar (of multiple centers of power) international system. Not very ambitious?
It has come to the attention of different sectors that many of those accountable for deviations, irregularities, and bad performance of their duties while holding governmental posts have participated in the elaboration of this document, and yet worse, seem to be the ones who will put it into practice. “There is something that does us much harm: the lack of discipline. Everyone looks for excuses for not going, for not making it, for not accomplishing, or for covering up the mistakes of others or his own, in a truly criminal attitude towards the revolutionary project--criminal!”, the president himself admitted.
“When I receive false information I lose trust. One loses confidence in its teams, because if I receive inaccurate reports, false data, if things are hidden from me, if I’m told half-truths--and that has happened!--then how many things could be false?”, he wondered. And we wonder. Many believe that only the collectivity’s taking these guidelines--set forth by Chávez--as its own, will guarantee the success of this strategy, in order for this process of changes, called the Bolivarian Revolution, to truly deepen -and to continue throughout time.
Many will try to silence the complaints of the grass roots and to stigmatize those who keep struggling and trying to build a single Venezuela. As Chávez would say: “sectarianism is one of the threats we carry within ourselves.” Beware of the loosening of moral principles; beware of deviations, harangued Chávez, while having to cope with tens of “Christmas greetings” from governmental institutions on TV... unnecessary superfluous spending? But we should not forget, told me an old friend from La Vega (a grass roots sector of Caracas), that this year would also be a year of politicians stepping on one another, because it will once again be an electoral year: for city council members and deputies to the National Assembly. While former governmental officials who were followers of Miquilena (Chávez’ ex -Minister of Internal Affairs and one of his closest assistants, who turned against him right before, and during the 2002 coup d’état) appear in public again, the bolivarians wonder who will decide which pro-Chávez candidates are to run for the different official posts.
We hope that at least two-thirds of them are chosen out of consultation with the grass roots, although we are aware that in order to advance the necessary changes in the power structure, in order to be able to make the great leap, it is necessary to rely on efficient and well prepared people in the National Assembly. The best working teams to the National Assembly? And who will serve in the government then? The lack of political, managerial, and technical working teams in the country is not new, but it is worrying; especially if one thinks about the future.
Chávez chose a military event to repeat that he would fight against corruption everywhere, “no matter in what outfit, or where it might be”, and argued that it is necessary to wage war on inefficiency and bureaucracy in order for things to be accomplished well and promptly. Six of one and half a dozen the other in his yearly Christmas address to the military garrisons: he also pointed out that the National Armed Force (FAN) has contributed leaders to strengthen democratic stability and deepen the revolutionary changes, as it did in the recovery of the national state owned oil company Pdvsa.
Chávez announced that he would initiate “a new stage of maintenance and construction” in the FAN and referred to the construction of the new Tiuna multiple purpose vehicle, to the reparation of weaponry, to the purchase of radar, airplanes for training, and frigates, as well as to the purchase of 100,000 rifles from Russia. He said that the military can already count on the new “patriot” uniforms designed in Venezuela out of cloth imported from China. But the truth is that every Christmas firework detonation reminded of the terrorist act that claimed the life of prosecutor Danilo Anderson and the lack of answers to the many questions.
Is it so difficult to know who the intellectual perpetrators are? In reviewing the records of the Guevara brothers (direct perpetrators of the crime), for example, people wonder why they were on the loose and had so many links with the security forces. It is worth remembering that this is not the first terrorist attack: we should not forget the mails bomb sent by Ramiro Helmeyer and his group, the deeds of the ineffable ex-police commissioner Henry López Sisco and of the lawyer Ricardo Koesling, both accomplices in the Vladimiro Montesinos affair...Who is protecting them?
And while the crime rate drops thanks to the new official authorities, the wounds from the criminal attack on Anderson have not yet healed, and many people along the border are concerned about the evident connivance between Venezuelan State security officers and renowned Colombian paramilitary.
Many people in the country--and also abroad--are “surprised to find out that Venezuelan security forces have been actively involved with their Colombian counterparts in Rodrigo Granda’s capture (who used the pseudonym of Ricardo González), a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) international relations staff”. According to what the investigations have revealed, Granda was arrested in Caracas last December 13th and taken to the State political police (DISIP) headquarters. Hours later, he was taken, in the trunk of a car, to Colombia, where he was “officially captured.” “No judiciary nor administrative process took place, in clear violation of the laws currently in force” says a public letter addressed to Chávez by several intellectuals.
“As for the internal conflict in Colombia, we believe that it is their conflict, and this point should also be made clear here. None of us are authorized to establish a communication link with the Colombian guerilla, nor should anybody do it”, said president Chávez two months ago, when he declared himself “neutral” in the neighboring country’s conflict.
Today many fear that, in the context of Plan Colombia, another Condor Operation (plan originally designed in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay), for the selective extermination of leaders for social progress, is taking place.
The new strategic moment in international affairs seems to be characterized by an increase in U.S. aggression, with new attempts to weaken the country and to undermine the consolidation of the newly born South American Union of Nations, in which Brazil and Venezuela managed to include Guyana, Surinam, and Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands).
After many efforts, the Orinoco-Amazon-Rio de la Plata axis seems to consolidate with the election of Tabaré Vásquez in Uruguay and an imminent Constituent Assembly in Bolivia. This axis is clearly different from the pro-Washington axis (Bogotá-Quito-Lima-Santiago).
The strategy should be to break this last axis and to consolidate the South American Union. For this strategy, Venezuela has a series of strategic goals, such as Petroamérica, Petrocaribe, the Television of the South, the University of the South. The year 2005 will be one of trips in order to consolidate these multi-polar relations: after signing multiple agreements with Russia, and even an aerospace agreement with China, there will be visits to India and to several OPEC countries, such as Nigeria and Qatar.
The lines of action are clear: “If there is ideological compatibility , so much the better, but the lack of it must not be a deterrent in Venezuela’s pursuit of its strategic geographical and economic goals”
Aram Aharonian is the editor of the Latin American monthly Question and the director of the news agency Alia2.