Free press is essential to avoid and end organized crime’s dictatorships

Carlos Sanchez Berzain

Whenever 21st Century Socialism -or Castrochavism- takes up a government, it seeks to impose its dictatorial system just as it did in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador under Correa, but when it butts against the democratic institutionalism that prevents changes to the system, it must handover the government and the dictatorial verve is defeated as in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The difference between democracy’s continuity and its supplantation by a dictatorship, beyond the respect -or lack thereof- for fundamental components of democracy, dwells in the “free press”, an essential feature to avoid and end organized crime’s dictatorships.

Ever since Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro partnered in 1999, all Latin America’s democracies are pressured by a campaign to wreck the democratic system and this process starts with the exacerbation and the counterfeiting of false narratives regarding social grievances, the multiplication of the axis of confrontation with matters such as indigenousness, regionalism, racism, and the systematic destruction of political parties and leadership. Subsequently, Castrochavism takes over a government with coups d’état and/or elections and attempts to supplant democracy through referendums and Constituent Assemblies.

That methodology turned out to be unstoppable due to the unlimited amounts of money contributed by Chavez, Castro’s existing criminal system, and the United States’ abandonment of the region due to terrorist attacks against it on 11 September 2001 that ignited its war against terrorism. This is how Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua were transformed into countries with “indefinite consecutive reelections” with “institutionalized electoral fraud” and with the concentration of all power in the President – who evolved into a dictator- who implemented political persecution and imprisonment, massive exile, and all the other features, including that of being “narco-States” of Cuba’s dictatorship.

This same plan allowed the takeover of power in Argentina with Kirchner, Brazil with Lula/Rousseff, Uruguay with Mujica, Paraguay with Lugo, Chile with Bachelet, Peru with Toledo/Humala, governments -whether good or bad- and most of them with problems of exaggerated corruption, that ended up respecting democratic alternance and did not supplant their country’s constitutions. Now, we see new attempts of this type happening in Chile with Gabriel Boric and its Constituent Assembly, in Peru with Pedro Castillo and his proposed plurinational Constituent Assembly, and in Colombia with Gustavo Petro and a yet unknown outcome.

Without any doubt, the difference between those countries that turned into Castrochavist narco-States and dictatorships and those countries that continue being democratic, resides in the consistency of their institutions and the democratic actors who were successful in preventing the installation of the 21st Century Socialism’s model, noteworthy of it all, however, is the role of the “free press” as the fundamental difference.

The free press, the result of being able to freely publish, is understood to be the exercising of a human right that is the freedom of expression, as consecrated by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is the practical, daily, high-risk application of the “principle” that declares that “communications and the expressions through the different means, including those printed and electronically, especially published concerns, are a right that must be exercised freely. Such freedom implies the lack of any type of interference by the State and firmly implies that previous censorship must be prohibited”.

In places where private means of diffusion not controlled by the government were maintained, democracy could be sustained but in other places with Presidents similar to Chavez/Maduro of Venezuela, Morales of Bolivia, Correa of Ecuador, and Ortega of Nicaragua the means of communications were seized, expropriated, forcibly sold, and using various ways attacked, those means of communications such as Globovision, El Nacional, Gamma Vision, TC Television, La Razon, 100% Noticias, El Confidencial, and dozens more. These governments controlled the news media to impose “false narratives”, to control public opinion, and carry-out the “assassination of reputation” of members of the opposition and social, as well as democratic leaders.

The assault and attacks against journalists and news media reporters was no less. Hundreds of news media people were threatened, forced into exile, were made political prisoners, tortured, assassinated and deprived of their right to work in their profession and are the result of the establishment and sustainment of Castrochavism’s dictatorships and its narco-States. This feature, beyond being vastly proven to exist in the dictatorships from Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua and in over 10 years of Correa’s dictatorship in Ecuador, is part of the scorn that accompanies the Para-Dictatorial governments of Lopez Obrador in Mexico and of Fernandez/Kirchner in Argentina.

The current role of the free press in the Americas, to denounce and reveal the practice of terrorism of State, crimes against humanity, the narco-States, torture, political prisoners and more in the dictatorships from Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, are putting to the test the terminal crisis of those criminal regimes and will -in all likelihood- end them.

*Attorney & Political Scientist. Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.

Translation from Spanish by Edgar L. Terrazas

Published in Spanish by Sunday July 31, 2022.

“The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author”.