[Marxism] [R-P] Galeano: Between Venezuela and Nothingland
mikedf at mail.amnh.org
Wed Aug 18 19:27:03 MDT 2004
The following article on the Venezuelan referendum by Eduardo Galeano --
written in that Uruguayan journalist's inimitable style -- came to me by
way of Reconquista Popular. I apologize in advance for any translation
errors I may have made. My thanks to Nestor for passing it along.
Between Venezuela and Nothingland
By Eduardo Galeano
Published Wednesday, 8/18/04
What a strange dictator, this Hugo Chavez. Suicidal and a masochist: he
created a Constitution that permits the people to kick him out, and took
the risk that this would happen in a referendum that Venezuela carried out
for the first time in universal history.
There was no punishment. And this became the eighth election that Chavez
has won in five years, with a transparency that would have given Bush a
reason to party.
Obedient to his own Constitution, Chavez accepted the referendum promoted
by the opposition, and placed his job at the disposal of the people: "You
decide." Until now, Presidents only interrupted their turn in office as the
result of death, coup de etats, insurrections or parliamentary decisions.
The referendum has inaugurated an unheard of kind of direct democracy. An
extraordinary event: How many presidents, of any country in the world,
would be inspired to do it? And how many would continue being president
after doing it?
This tyrant, invented by the mass media, this terrible demon, just gave a
huge dose of vitamins to Democracy, which in Latin America -- and not only
in Latin America -- has been weak and lethargic.
A month before, Carlos Andres Perez, the angel of God, a democrat beloved
by the mass media, announced a coup d'etat to the four corners of the
earth. Simply and concisely, he affirmed that "the path of violence" was
the only possible way in Venezuela, and dismissed the referendum "because
it isn't part of the Latin American idiosyncrasy." The Latin American
idiosyncrasy, in other words our precious heritage: a deaf and dumb people.
Until a few years ago, Venezuelans went to the beach when elections were
held. Voting wasn't and isn't mandatory. But, the country has gone from
total apathy to total enthusiasm. The torrent of voters, enormous lines
waiting in the sun, afoot, for long hours, overflowed all of the procedures
set up for voting. The democratic flood also hindered the proposed
application of the latest technology to prevent fraud, in this country
where the dead have the bad habit of voting and where some of the living
vote several times each election, perhaps because of Parkinson's Disease.
"There is no freedom of expression here!" blare the television screens,
radio waves and newspaper headlines, with absolute freedom of expression.
Chavez has not closed a single one of the mouths that spit insults and lies
every day. The chemical warfare designed to poison public opinion continues
with impunity. The only television channel shut down in Venezuela, Channel
8, was not a victim of Chavez, but rather of those who usurped his
presidency for a couple of days, during the brief coup d'etat in April 2002.
And when Chavez returned from prison and recovered the presidency borne on
the shoulders of an enormous crowd, the Venezuelan mass media weren't aware
of the news. Private television stations spent the whole day showing Tom
and Jerry movies. Those exemplary television stations deserved the prize
that the king of Spain awards for the best journalism. The king gave his
prize for a film made about those turbulent days in April. The film was a
hoax. It showed the savage Chavistas shooting at an innocent demonstration
of unarmed dissidents. Irrefutable evidence proved that the demonstration
never took place, but this small detail was unimportant, as the prize was
Until just yesterday, in the Saudi Venezuela, petroleum paradise, the
census officially recognized a million an a half illiterates, and there
were five million disenfranchised Venezuelans. These, and many other
invisible people are unwilling to return to Nothingland, which is the
country inhabited by the nobodies. They have conquered their country, which
was so foreign to them. This referendum has proven, once again, that they
are staying there.
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