Carlos Alberto Montaner: The Time Has Come to Defend Freedoms
By Carlos Alberto Montaner
Latin American Herald Tribune
August 20, 2018
The Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) sentenced Nicolás Maduro to 18 years in prison. Great. He’ll have to spend that time in Ramo Verde. Excellent. In that prison he confined Leopoldo López and other political enemies. In addition, he must pay a fine of 25 million dollars and compensate the State with 35 billion as a result of bribes and surcharges received by or paid to Odebrecht.
Odebrecht is a malignant and efficient Brazilian bandit. Tired of the inability to commit crimes shown by dishonest Latin American politicians, it organized a large-scale theft in a dozen countries (which, by the way, were not innocent) and, perhaps, in South Florida, home to the largest amount of Latin Americans living in the United States.
All that is very good. The TSJ is authorized to act in the way it did. The judgments are recognized by the OAS and the European Parliament. The accuser was the Prosecutor General, Luisa Ortega, who converted to democracy after a turbulent past of persecutions, and who was intelligently welcomed by the opposition, perhaps because there are not many Venezuelans free of the original Chavista sin.
The 33 judges of the TSJ were appointed by the National Assembly, as established by the current Constitution. The problem is that each of its members has had to go into exile. The Magna Carta, which Chávez described as “la Bicha” (the cunning one) and assured that it was the best Constitution in the world, does not specify where the TSJ should reside.
Logically, if there had been an earthquake in Caracas, the TSJ would have to meet at another site. In Venezuela there has been a political earthquake that has devastated everything. Understandably, the TSJ has gone to other places (Colombia, Chile, US and Panama). Fortunately, the Internet exists and the judges can carry out sessions regularly seeing each other’s face on Skype.
Obviously, Maduro will laugh at the sentence, and say some stupidity about it, although in his heart he might feel chills. The same chills that are felt when one listens to the funeral home director discussing with our relatives if the funeral will be with the decedent present, wearing glasses and make-up, or if it’ll be cremated and returned to the family in a box with three pounds of ashes from the bones, after explaining that the flesh, the viscera and the soft parts, including the eyes, become smoke.
Of course, the 14 countries that form the Lima Group will see very favorably the TSJ’s judgment, but that is not enough. They will have to act if they want to get rid of the dictatorships of Socialism of the 21st Century: Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia.
They must do so for their own good, since these nations try to metastasize and conspire with their local comrades to destroy the democratic foundations.
The Lima Group must base its actions on the Democratic Charter that was signed precisely in Lima, in 2001, in a solemn call made by the OAS. There’s a lot to deal with. Those three regimes, all signatories of the agreement, want to pretend they are democratic. They twist the laws so that their leaders remain in power indefinitely. They kill, imprison and banish their opponents by accusing them of being terrorists.
Cuba leads the group behind the scenes, but the Castro brothers’ island is a consolidated tyranny (vilely) accepted by all. It did not sign the Democratic Charter and has refused to rejoin the OAS, an invitation that was incomprehensibly made by Mr. Insulza.
Cuba does not try to present itself as a democracy; on the contrary, it proudly exhibits its status as a single-party satrapy in which individual rights are subject to the ultimate goals of the State and these are defined by the Communist Party. There is, then, no hypocrisy or fundamental contradiction between law and practice. It’s a Stalinist mess and that’s been the case for almost 60 years. Its socialism is from the 20th century, the one that cost one hundred million deaths, and comes directly from Leninism.
What can the Lima Group do, except Mexico, which moves back to the paralysis of the Estrada Doctrine? It can break or lower the hierarchy of diplomatic relations. It can explain that laws and tradition justify the use of force when democratic paths have been closed. It can arm the opponents, so they can defend their freedoms. To sit idle would be suicidal.