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Open Letter to Hugo Chavez

By Daniel Duquenal

18.04.06 | Dear President Chavez, of course, you do realize that this “dear” is as formal as they come. You were never dear to me, not even before 1998. See, many people might have forgotten it, or pretend to have forgotten it as long as you keep sending them oil or an allowance, but I, for one, have not forgotten that you are the 1992 coup monger, an assassin that still needs to account for the 200 something people that died then, the leader of the little tanks that were attacking a museum and the house where the wife of the Venezuelan president and his children were hiding. All but you apparently ignoring that rarely Carlos Andres visited his estranged wife. Then again, since you are at Miraflores, we have discovered that accurate information and scrutiny is not your forte. Your magic dust never worked on me, sorry. I have always seen you for the uncouth soldier that you were, are, will ever be.

I thought that I had figured you out quite well. See, I am one of those that know very well that you will never leave office in a democratic way. You and your pals have stolen too much, have committed too many crimes, and have to much of a power trip to let that escape your hand. I have no illusion. I do not know whether we in the opposition will force you out someday, or if the ones that will get rid of you are actually very close to you, very faithful servants who like any sycophant can turn their coats at an amazing speed. It does not matter: aberrations like your tenure on office always end, even if the country is a mess and unable to get rid of you. Castro will die someday. Peron did not survive Evita’s passing. Pinochet thought the people loved him. Velasco was sent packing by his allies when the country run out of food. You guys will always outreach yourselves. And you, Hugo, will not be the exception.

But I digress, as I am sure that I am not writing anything that you already do not know. I am not sure that you are intelligent but I will give you one thing: your street smarts are excellent and play well in politics. Maybe for a decade more if oil prices keep steady. Thus I am sure that at some level you are very aware of what I am writing.

Your histrionics are good too! They have more than one fooled, in particular overseas where the anti Bush, knee jerk anti US folks love every single nonsense you utter, every tiny bit of insult you send up North. They gobble it; they never have enough of it. It is for me amazing that they can support so easily a military regime, an authoritarian regime that they would not tolerate for a second at home. It is amazing how they can suspend disbelief to that extent. Hate is really a powerful feeling. Then again they still think Castro is hot; they still have not added up all the deaths that can be attributed to the Che; some even think that the fall of the Berlin Wall was a tragedy. Heck! Some might even miss Pinochet, a great scare crow if ever there was one, a good way to get the naïve to give them money for who knows what. Ask the Christian fundamentalists in the US and how many causes they supported as long as it allowed them to pick the pockets of their Sunday crowd! Even Pat Robertson tries to supplement his income using you.

That last part I am not as sure you can really get. See, you culture is very superficial, very uncritical, very emotional. You have shown time and again that you do not digest what you read, that you take everything out of context not because you do it on purpose but because you probably have no idea what context is and how important it is for the advancement of ideas, original ideas in particular. Your speeches are a constant stream of rehashed banalities that are made more palatable through your inimitable delivery. Perhaps if some media had given you a talk show by 1991 we would not be in the dire situation we are now. But I digress again, I only wanted to write that this lack of critical spirit, combined with a strange ego makes you a perfect target for these people who are sucking you dry. And even if you were to realize that they are using you, you probably would not mind. Power is a drug, and absolute power an absolute drug.

But it is time that I tell you why is it that for the first time ever I have decided to write to you directly. See, I am in the boondocks for a few days of deserved rest. Dealing with the bureaucratic tangles of the Bolivarian revolution is wearing me. I did tune up the radio last Monday night and I did manage to listen, through all the creaking, some words you said, maybe on Alo Presidente, I could not tell. But it does not matter. What you were saying was equally infamous no matter where you would say it. You were, need I remind you, comparing your pain to the pain of the mother of the Faddoul kids, assassinated a couple of weeks ago while kidnapped. This left me aghast, doubly aghast when I realized that you were accusing the opposition media of using the Faddoul drama for political purpose, JUST AS YOU WERE DOING EXACTLY WHAT YOU ACCUSED THEM TO DO by comparing your pain to Mrs. Faddoul, just as you were telling us that you cried when you talked to her. By the way Hugo, did you cry BEFORE you talked to her? Because a lot of us did, you know, without Globovision needing to manipulate us into crying.

See, this is why I am writing to you today, finally after three years of criticizing almost anything you do. I think you have lost it and that you have become dangerous. It is time that someone tells it to you like it is.

A couple of weeks ago I was watching the Downfall, a movie that made it to the Oscar race telling us how were the last days of Hitler. No, you are not Hitler, I would not be silly enough to equate you to him, though some days it would be so easy to pigeon hole you as such. Like all brilliant manipulators, you will create your own brand of repression. But I have a confession to make: when I saw Hitler ranting, mistrusting anyone, threatening anyone, blaming anyone for his mistakes, believing any pipe dream he came up with, well, I could not help but be reminded of you. See, I do not see that in Castro. He is clear about what he is, a ruthless caudillo, perhaps the most successful dictator of our Latin American story, since Porfirio Diaz. I am too young for Peron or even Pinochet, but I did not see that in them either. These people at some level sensed when it was time to pack and go; and if Pinochet is now under investigation in Chile it is because he was fool enough to go to England against every piece of advice given to him, not because he had lost his wits. He dared, he lost, even when he thought he had managed to escape back to Chile.

No, what I heard in these few words transmitted by the radio of your regime showed me clearly that you have lost your bearings, that you are saying “n’importe quoi” so as to distract from a given monstrosity by creating yet another monstrosity. Your are going insane and that is dangerous for the country, for you, for me, for our families, for our peace as a nation. Keep going and soon enough we will end up in a civil war and it is your side that will start it because simply they will not be able to hide your words anymore and will be forced to act on them, be forced to spring into action, just as Nazi generals were taking young teenagers to defend Berlin, having lost any sense of past, present or future. You should watch that movie, you do not even need to get the context, the end never needs context.

I urge you, Hugo Chavez, if you still have moments of lucidity to stop this march to madness. If you must, cheat on elections, exile a few of us, but do not start feeling more pain than your victims. Stay in office forever if we must to avoid a civil war. But what you are doing now is madness and it leads us to hell.

Sincerely, as anyone ever was.

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