One can’t help but be concerned about the authoritarian and fascist tone of many statements made Government officials and high ranking military this weekend. From the statements by two Ministers saying that there will be no recall referendum against the President, to the abusive acts and statements by two Generals, the attitude is not that of a democratic Government and only helps to unnecessarily increase tension in a country that needs exactly the opposite.
A Deputy from the Acción Democrática party, Edgar Zambrano, denounced that he was having dinner last Friday with CNE Director Sobella Mejias when a group of National Guards hit him and handcuffed him and took him away in a National Guard wagon. The General denies that this ever took place, saying that he does not even know Zambrano. But then he proceeds to say that he was at the Restaurant and the guards accompanying him might have done something to Zambrano.
The General then goes on to question what Zambrano was doing having dinner with the CNE Director as if two people belonging to the same political party can not have dinner together (besides being of opposite sexes, which is not the General’s business anyway). Moreover, Zambrano has witnesses of what took place and turned in as evidence the pair of handcuffs used on him. The General said that you can get a pair of handcuffs anywhere.
The second outrageous act was the announcement in President Chavez’s Sunday program that an active General would be a candidate to the Governorship of Carabobo state. General Acosta Carles, the same burping General who committed abuse of power in December 2001, confiscating and selling private property for which he was promoted by President, actually said he was already the “de facto” Governor of that state.
The worst part is that President Chávez continues going around the country announcing his hand-picked candidates. This violates the law in many different ways: First of all, neither active military nor public office holders can be candidates by law (Violation #1). Nor can they be candidates until the day they register (Registration is not even open yet for the regional elections) (Violation #2). Despite this, Chavez uses Government sponsored TV programs to launch these illegal candidacies, which represents misuse of public funds (Violation #3), abuse of power (violation #4) and sponsoring illegal activities (Violation #5). But of course, since Chávez controls the Attorney General (who is also the Prosecutor in charge of upholding the law), the CNE, the National Assembly and the People’s Ombudsman, all of this happens with total impunity.
This is what an autocratic Government is all about. Violation of the laws, violation of the rights of people, abuse of power, total impunity by the military and Government officials, limits to the exercise of democracy. While I still cautiously believe that there will be a recall referendum, the fascist and arrogant behaviour of Government officials in the last few days, tells me that they are getting nervous. Edgy because they have realized the opposition has the necessary signatures to hold the recall vote. Nervous because they know they might lose the vote. Edgy because if they ever lose their stronghold on all stages of power, a revived judicial system will prosecute them for their abuses. They should be…