[Marxism] Eva Gollinger denounces Maduro

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Oct 17 15:59:53 MDT 2018


(Eva Gollinger's defection is very significant.)

NY Times Op-Ed, Oct. 17, 2018
A Tale of Three Presidents

Nicolás Maduro and Donald Trump have an authoritarian bent, as did Hugo 
Chávez, but the Chávez I knew also believed in social justice, equality 
and fundamental freedoms.

By Eva Golinger

(Ms. Golinger was an adviser to the former president of Venezuela, Hugo 
Chávez.)

  reporters at the United Nations last month, President Trump said he 
would be willing to meet with Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, if 
he were here. Despite Mr. Maduro’s constant diatribes against the 
American Empire, even a tenuous offer to meet with an autocrat-friendly 
American president was one Mr. Maduro couldn’t refuse.

Just moments before he extended this unexpected olive branch to the 
embattled Mr. Maduro, Mr. Trump said once again that he was considering 
a “military option” against Venezuela. Declaring you might invade a 
country to oust its leader and then in the same breath saying you’d be 
happy to meet with that leader could seem illogical. But impulsiveness 
is Mr. Trump’s brand, lack of foresight his guiding light. He has met 
his dysfunctional match in Mr. Maduro.

Venezuela is living through its worst political and economic crisis in 
history. The International Monetary Fund has predicted that Venezuela’s 
inflation will top one million percent by the end of this year, a 
concept unimaginable from afar, but very real to Venezuelans. Picture 
this: The price I paid in 2006 for a three-bedroom apartment in a 
middle-class area of Caracas would today be equivalent to less than a 
dollar and couldn’t even buy a single roll of toilet paper in Venezuela, 
if you could find one.

Recent reports from the United Nations show that Venezuelans are 
suffering — even dying — from lack of access to essential medicines and 
health supplies. More than two million Venezuelans have fled the country 
in search of food, medical treatment and economic opportunity in the 
last three years. The huge migration of Venezuelans has so overwhelmed 
the region that neighboring countries like Ecuador, Colombia and Panama 
have put tighter border controls in place.

Though Mr. Maduro had said he was hesitant to visit the United Nations 
because of security concerns, he jumped on his presidential aircraft 
after Mr. Trump made his comments, landing a few hours later in New 
York. In his haste, he had failed to set something up with the 
president. Of course, Mr. Trump was not going to meet with his 
Venezuelan counterpart; it was just an off-the-cuff remark. But to Mr. 
Maduro, it was his big opportunity. If Kim Jong-un could meet with 
Donald Trump, so could he.

Like Kim Jong-un, Mr. Maduro is one of a handful of heads of state under 
United States government sanctions. Right before his arrival in New 
York, the Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on Mr. Maduro’s 
wife, Cilia Flores, Vice President Delcy Rodríguez and others in his 
inner circle. The walls were closing in on the Venezuelan president, and 
he saw Mr. Trump as his way out. “If we met face to face, I’m sure good 
things would come of it,” he said during his surprise appearance at the 
United Nations.

While some believe that Mr. Maduro inherited a tyrannical government 
from his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, I beg to differ. I was a close 
confidante of Mr. Chávez and was there for his rise and fall.

The Hugo Chávez I knew believed in social justice, equality and 
fundamental freedoms. He won landslide majorities in multiple elections. 
He was even re-elected when he was dying of cancer — that’s how popular 
he was in Venezuela. Mr. Chávez pardoned many of his adversaries, even 
those who attempted to overthrow him in a violent coup.

Did he have authoritarian tendencies? His military background left him 
with a firm belief in hierarchy. The longer he remained in power, the 
more entrenched he became, which is why term limits and checks and 
balances are essential to a healthy democracy.

But Mr. Chávez had enormous empathy for the poor and the marginalized. 
He made great strides during his presidency, helping millions of people.

True, he made many mistakes. Mr. Chávez aspired to make his model 
sustainable, but died without achieving that goal. His habit of choosing 
loyalty over competence was a fatal mistake. So was entrusting multiple 
responsibilities to a closed circle of people who were unprepared and 
unwilling to make hard choices. It nurtures a climate of secrecy and 
unaccountability, which can be a danger to democracy.

I’ve seen that same behavior in Donald Trump, who has surrounded himself 
with family members, giving them jobs for which they have no experience 
or knowledge. It’s a standard autocratic tactic in order to keep a tight 
grip on power, stemming from the paranoia that power addiction creates, 
and the narcissistic belief that no one can do things better.

Nicolás Maduro is no Hugo Chávez. He is an unpopular president with 
questionable legitimacy, accused of widespread violations of human 
rights, corruption and elections fraud. Though he tries to emulate Mr. 
Chávez, he is more similar to his northern counterpart, Donald Trump.

Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Maduro thrives on deception, exaggeration and lies. 
He denies a humanitarian crisis exists in Venezuela and blames the 
United States for his own mess. Should he be ousted in a coup, crippled 
by economic sanctions or overthrown in a foreign invasion? No. 
Venezuela’s problems must be resolved by Venezuelans. Instead of 
entertaining the possibility of a military intervention to remove Mr. 
Maduro, Washington should focus on circumventing our own budding 
kleptocracy led by another aspiring autocrat.

No president should ever rule unchecked. No person should ever be given 
free rein to disregard the basic tenets of society, law and order, 
freedom and respect. It is the people who must hold their leaders to 
account through active, conscientious participation and oversight, 
always keeping a watchful eye on the dangers and temptations of 
pervasive corruption and power addiction.

Mr. Maduro returned to Venezuela empty-handed. No meeting with Mr. 
Trump, no easing of sanctions, no lessening of tensions. But, in perfect 
Trumpian fashion, he went on state TV to grandstand about his trip, 
making outlandish remarks.

“When I was out walking around New York, I could have paid for the hot 
dog I ate on Fifth Avenue in Petros,” he said, referring to the dubious 
Venezuelan cryptocurrency he created to decrease dependence on the 
United States dollar. It is largely considered a swindle by financial 
experts.

Just like Mr. Trump, Mr. Maduro thrives in a parallel world of lies and 
fantastical chicanery. Unlike Venezuela, the United States still has 
time to reverse the slippery slope to authoritarianism.

Eva Golinger (@evagolinger), a lawyer, is the author of a memoir, 
“Confidante of ‘Tyrants.’”

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter 
(@NYTopinion).

Ms. Golinger was advisor to the late president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez.



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