(Este post en español aquí)
For at least seven of the last ten years, universities have represented the biggest frustration for Hugo Chavez. Except for some small victories during his first three years in power, Venezuelan universities whose authorities are elected in elections, have rejected Hugo Chavez over and over.
And it is getting worse. Chavista backed candidates seem to get fewer votes in elections for either authorities or student body leaders. Who can forget the new President of the Central Bank, Nelson Merentes, getting whipped when he ran for the only office he ever aspired to as President (Rector) of Universidad Central de Venezuela? He did not even manage to go to the second round, coming in third of the two possible candidates that went to the second round and he was the only one that represented Chavismo.
And university elections are fairly open affairs, Professors vote and so do students and in some cases even employees. But it does not matter Chavismo loses time after time.
Which in the end is the sole driver behind the recently and unconstitutionally approved Educational Law. Sure they took advantage of it to impose more control over the educational system, but the goal, the main driver was simple: take control of the only place where ideas can be discussed freely in Venezuela, the only institution where you can criticize someone without being censored, ostracized or banished, no matter which side you are on: The Venezuelan truly autonomous universities.
And despite the lack of transparency in the way the law was approved, how the ultimate end was hidden behind the noise, the treachery and the under the table approval, this just happens to be Hugo Chavez’ latest coup.
Because anytime the opposition says or does anything the Government in unison accuses of staging a coup, in a country where it is clearly Hugo Chavez the only person allowed to stage one. And the Venezuelan President does not hide it, he openly says it:
“Chavez calls on to take apart the structures of power in the universities…we should not recognize any authority which does not originate in a legitimate process”
Funny, I don’t recall any of the pro-Chavez candidates ever saying that they were participating or defeated in an illegitimate process. They all participated and graciously acknowledged they had lost. What else can you say when the opposite side gets over 80% of the votes as has recurrently happened in all the elections in Venezuelan universities?
The difference is that Chavez has no scruples whatsoever to violate the law and the Constitution and lie in the process. He is the Master Coupster, starting in 1992 (twice), the 1999 referendum, the “Congresillo” in 2000, the PDVSA trap (2002), the 2004 referendum, the 2008 enabling Bill, the shutdown of RCTV and radio stations and this year’s referendum (among others). Chavez has staged all these armed an unarmed coups, no scruples, whatever it takes and the new Education Law is just the last one.
It’s just the way of Dictators and the doublespeak of fascists. The world has seen it before.