“Once the spells woven by the words and presence of the charismatic Chavez were lost, reality has become undeniably stark and unpromising,” writes historian Margarita Lopez-Maya of the Latin American Council of Social Studies.
Indeed, Chavez’ vitriolic diatribes are no more. Instead, modern day Venezuela is now faced with a political crisis that leaves left wing Latin American populism to believe that there is a determined right wing effort to destabilize president Maduro’s duly elected government.
But if we are to accept the flow of this information as truth, then we are instantly drawn to the problems that are undermining democratic consolidation in Venezuela and to the other dissenting facets of fascism as well.
Whereas many consider social inequality fed by hardships that include rampant crimes, a 56 percent inflation rate and shortages of basic goods as the major contributing factor to the levels of violence in Venezuela, the prospect that has been used to impugn democracy by the previous Chavez administration and continued by the Maduro government must also be brought to light.
Informed sources indicate that ‘the Venezuela government ignore treaties, violates international law at will, suppresses human rights and controls the media, parliament and security forces.’ Reporters without borders further confirms that “journalism is used as an oppressive weapon in Venezuela,” thereby making it evident that Maduro’s accusation that ultra-right wing protesters fuelled by hard line opposition members as the reason for the unrest in Venezuela only appeals to a fascist form of propaganda that is manipulated to fit his own benefit.
And thus is unleashed the clauses of Orwellian language.
In this regards, it was Chavez who delegitimized and eliminated pluralism in Venezuela thus imposing a fascist dictatorship through his Bolivarian socialism. It was Chavez who played upon the fears of the masses with his façade of a welfare program and the cultivation of a politicized judicial system in Venezuela. It was Chavez who planned to build a two million man army in a country not threatened by any external forces in his effort to bury imperialism, thus resulting in a delusional police state.
More significantly, history further documents that “in embodying a menacing form of leftist opportunism, Chavez also evoked the clauses of fascism with his oppression of civic autonomy, thereby rendering civil society the main enemy of his dictatorship.”
Therefore, it is not an accident that Maduro now quibbles between democracy and fascism.
Although a strong disagreement now persists on the definition of fascism, when seen through the perspective of the rejection of liberal ideas of freedom, it can be concluded that the violence in Venezuela is the result of the lethal combination of repression and censorship and the dire economic practices of the previous Chavez and present Maduro administration and not the consequences of an economic war concocted by the opposition as Maduro claims it to be.
Maybe the assumption that “fascism was dubbed right wing because the communist left thought this was the best way to punish apostasy” carries much weight in the unfolding crisis in Venezuela for Maduro feels justified in labelling the opposition as right wing in an effort to revive the practices of Chavismo.
Given this concern, the adoption of parliamentary elections alone are not the only tenets of a true democracy. If democracy must be understood as an opening of a political system in order to allow freedom of expression, freedom of information and an increased awareness of human rights, then unless democracy fills the vacuum created by the blatant demagogy and shrill chauvinism of Chavez and his cronies, then democracy will continue to be sacrificed in the name of fascism in Venezuela.
Even though critics charge that it is modern technology that facilitates dictatorship, technology can also be used to overpower and liberate as well. Democracy should petition to reason and civility and not to violence and deceit. Maduro’s oppressive government can by no means be termed ‘democratic’ when all the channels of public information are poisoned by the deliberate perversion of truth and fact.
In all truism, the violence in Venezuela undermines economic growth, impends human welfare and thwarts social development and now poses a threat to all democracies in Latin and South America and the Caribbean region.
Hence, it is now time for the international community, the southern common market (Mercosur) and UNASUR to engage in political dialogue and stand in strong defence of democracy and the clauses of human rights and press freedom in Venezuela.
By: Rebecca Theodore
Rebecca Theodore is a syndicated columnist based in Washington DC. Follow her on twitter @rebethd