Today marks 20 years of the first electoral victory of Hugo Chávez. On that day, the majority of Venezuelans voted for someone who offered to turn representative democracy into participatory, eradicate corruption and reduce social inequality.
Twenty years later it can be affirmed, without any doubt, that the "revolution" led by the late Hugo Chávez is a huge fraud that has caused a real catastrophe in all aspects of life in Venezuela.
Participatory democracy turned out to be a move to ensnare the unwary, but what’s worse is that chavismo killed democracy in the country. Today we live under an authoritarian regime, which makes use of the courts, the National Electoral Council (CNE), and the General Attorney’s Office, to mock popular will, prosecute and imprison those who oppose the government. Political rights have been curtailed and depend on the whims of Nicolás Maduro and the ruling elite.
The will of the people was mocked and disregarded since December 2015, when Venezuelans elected a qualified majority of the opposition for Congress (aka National Assembly or AN.) Subsequently, a recall referendum was prevented from taking place in 2016, a constituent assembly was convened in violation of the Constitution and the governorship of Bolívar state was taken from opposition candidate Andrés Velásquez.
Also, the presidential elections were moved forward after several candidates were banned from running for office and not complying with an agreement signed with those who participated in these elections last May. This "coup" has taken place in stages, with the full complicity of the Minister of Defense, Vladimir Padrino López and the military high command, partly responsible for all the disaster in the country.
As for corruption, they achieved what seemed impossible. The one seen between the 1970s and the 1980s during the governments of the Acción Democrática (Democratic Action) and COPEI opposition parties was child’s play compared to this. A good part of those who have held prominent government positions for the last 20 years have stolen the nation’s wealth with premeditation, treachery and impunity. And continue to do so.
What has been revealed abroad, what has been denounced in Venezuela by journalists and lawmakers, proves that we live, too, in a kleptocracy. Opportunities to steal, embezzle, loot and squander abound in this country. Venezuela enjoyed the biggest oil revenues in its history and the Government was unable to resolve or improve any of the existing problems, quite the contrary.
The healthcare system is a mess. Diseases that had been controlled or eradicated for good have returned to wreak havoc in some states. Hospitals and health centers do not count on the necessary resources and those who work there receive miserable salaries.
The situation is no better in the education field. Educators at all levels are desperately fleeing the country, which generates a loss in the quality of teaching. All of this triggered by miserable salaries. The best lever for achieving social equality does not work.
There is not much to add regarding the economy. All Venezuelans live every day the disaster caused by their expropriation policies, attacks on private property, looting and corruption. They achieved what seemed impossible: to have a "cash cow" – the state-run oil company PDVSA – on the brink of bankruptcy.
At this rate, PDVSA can soon produce a million barrels per day, the same amount as in 1945, with the difference that more than 30 million people are living in this country today. The mismanagement of this company prevented them from taking advantage of the latest increase in crude oil prices.
In sum, the pledges made by Chávez in 1998 proved to be a fraud. A fraud! They have led to a catastrophe in the country. What happens in this country calls for the opposition leadership to achieve the broadest possible unity in order to get rid of Maduro and his people as soon as possible.