I view my role in this blog as simply providing information, I try to provide links and be at least consistent in what I say. I don’t claim I am even close at that. Being right is even further away from my thoughts. I have found that being right in politics is quite difficult and don’t even try to be right, just honest.
Today, someone in the comments section seemed to suggest the opposition (or me!) believed too much in the Carter Center. I did not; I wish I had been wrong! I still believe that we should ignore him and actually have never trusted him very much. I would not even bother meeting with him or his representatives tomorrow. One reader (AM) actually went through my blog and found my old quotes on Carter and his efforts. Another one (JA) reached a conclusion exactly the opposite of mine, thinks we should meet with the Carter Center, thus here are my old views, a Venezuelan that could care less about Carter and his efforts opinions and JA, an American that has shown to me cares as much about the fate of my country, as I do. JA’s opinions are taken directly from the comments section:
My friends, this is fascism and Venezuela is slowly melting into a
dictatorship under the eyes of the stupid people like the Carter
Center, the OAS and Human Rights Watch who have played right into the
hands of the cynicism of the Chavez Government.
Either he was naive and believed what our President told him or the
Carter Center received a contribution from the Venezuelan Government
that now stops them from speaking out. A few days ago I translated and
posted a very good article with the promises made by Hugo Chavez to
Jimmy Carter. Venezuelans are still waiting to hear from the Carter
Center on these issues.
The Carter Center published a denial about receiving a contribution
from the Venezuelan Government that was too carefully worded for my
taste. It says:
“Son erróneos los reportes recientes aparecidos en Venezuela que
indican que el Centro Carter habría recibido una donación de parte del
Gobierno venezolano en relación con la invitación para ayudar a
facilitar la reconciliación nacional y el diálogo. El Centro Carter no
ha aceptado y no aceptaría fondos de parte del Gobierno venezolano en
relación con este esfuerzo”
“The reports that recently appeared in Venezuela which indicate that
the Carter Center received a donation from the Venezuelan Government
related to the invitation to help facilitate the dialogue and national
reconciliation are erroneous. The Carter Center has not accepted and
will not accept funds from the Venezuelan Government related to these
Note how carefully it is stated TWICE using the word “related” when
it says “related to the invitation” or “related to that effort”,
clearly defining that there is no donation in relation to the visit.
My reading is that the Center did receive a donation unrelated to the
visit to mediate between the Government and the opposition, likely
into some other project of the Carter Center. So far, the Carter
Center has not issued a denial that it NEVER received a donation from
the Hugo Chavez Government. Once the Chavez Government leaves, which
will happen soon, we will know the complete truth. The shame will now
taint not only Jimmy Carter’s reputation, but also that of the Nobel
Peace Prize. (Well, maybe its too late for that anyway, didn’t they
give it to Arafat too?)
I have been warning in these pages since I began about the real Hugo
Chavez. Gaviria, Carter and HRW have played into his hands. Only
yesterday, the opposition had to cancel a march on fears that there
would be a massacre.
There is much more in my blog, but this should be enough to prove my point that we should not waste our time in meeting with the Carter Center.
JA, has an opposite opinion, despite reaching similar conclusions about Carter, she thinks the opposition should meet with Carter:
I do not hesitate to condemn the lack of leadership in the opposition. This has been a tragedy for Venezuela. But those who believe Carter had little to do with Chavez’s victory are missing something very, very important. Carter was the unofficial representative of the US government. His funding came from the US State Department. Additionally, in the months running up to the Referendum and on August 15, 2004 Carter was seen by the world as the most credible actor in Venezuelan politics. If the opposition told Chavez and the CNE (the electoral authority) to go to hell, the world would have turned their back on the opposition because Carter gave his blessing to the rules and regulations established by the CNE. So, the United States was giving the opposition no other choices but to accept Carter. What was the opposition supposed to do and who would have supported them in boycotting the RR?
Carter’s sole objective when he came to Venezuela was to limit social violence, no matter the cost. He turned the other cheek while hundreds of thousands of people were illegally turned into citizens and registered to vote. He turned the other cheek when outrageous sums of public money were spent on Chavez’s campaign. He turned the other cheek when Chavez used public TV to campaign endlessly and illegally. He looked the other way as abuse after abuse was committed and delay after delay was made to push back the referendum to give Chavez time to buy and steal as many votes as he could before the RR. The opposition screamed many times, but if Carter had called the fairness of the RR into doubt, he would have risked pushing the country into social upheaval. So in his mind, it was better to go forward with a rigged election than see injuries and possibly death.
In the early morning hours of August 16 when the CNE announced the RR result, almost all in Venezuela knew a grand theft had taken place, even Carter realized, even if he could not be sure of the magnitude. He could have questioned the legitimacy of the result, requesting time for a full audit and investigation, but to do so would have risked social upheaval–the very thing he so desperately wanted to prevent. So in his mind, he chose the least bad option, endorsing a fraudulent election, something he had already been doing for months.
So now the Carter Center is back in Caracas. Why now? They could have returned when it was clear that Chavez was going to stack the Supreme Court again. They could have returned when it was clear that the muzzle law on the press was going to be approved. They could have returned when it became evident that Chavez was giving safe haven to Farc terrorists. But a complete breakdown of checks and balances and democratic institutions was not a grave enough crisis for Carter to get involved. It is only when the US govt starts to focus on Venezuela that Carter decides to get involved (by the way, Carter has been cut off from State Department funding). Why should this get Carter into gear? Ehud Barak (former Prime Minister of Israel) stated recently that when the US denounces tyrants and talks about spreading liberty, it emboldens dissidents and opposition grouped living under tyranny. Carter understands that a more focused US could give hope! To the opposition, and give them a reason to take to the streets to fight for liberty and democracy once again. So Carter must swing into action, and make a call for dialogue in an attempt to crush the oppositions struggle for democracy–because such a struggle could get violent.
So what should the opposition do to confront this man, who has helped to prop up and unbending authoritarian? Two choices: 1) in a calm, cool, organized way explain to the world the outrageous electoral abuses that took place under Carter’s watch, and note the contrast with the Ukraine. If the opposition pursues this strategy they must stick to undeniable facts (there are plenty of them) while avoiding unsubstantiated accusations. Of course, this strategy requires a reasonable competent spokesperson, and there are plenty. 2) A second, less compelling strategy would be to try to ignore Carter, downplaying his visit, providing the press with as little to write about. Hopefully Carter would exit the scene. I prefer option 1, if it were done properly.