General Almagro in his labyrinth of cohabitation

Beatrice E. Rangel
Beatrice Rangel

Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the O.A. published an article in the Chronicles of Montevideo newspaper that should be the object of reflection of the continent’s elites in the supposed case that they are interested in rescuing democratic paths and taking advantage of the opportunities opened by international change.

In effect, the world economy and the reconstitution of the geopolitical map open up to Latin America -as happened in 1945- a golden opportunity to strengthen the still shaky democracies and enter the paths of growth. In 1945 the region preferred to continue with its schemes of mercantilist capitalism and its corporatist political systems with the consequences that we are experiencing today, which are summarized in paralytic economies and limited democracies.

Luis Almagro’s article raises the imperative need to resolve the perverse dilemma of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela because it is from there that most of the ills that adversely impact the region come out like a Pandora’s box. Venezuela uses income from illicit activities to finance electoral campaigns of forces that are tributary to it; it has created a population exodus that no nation in Latin America—not even Mexico and Brazil—has the capacity to fully absorb; it destroys the gains in health by expelling a sick population depressed by the lack of food and medicine and surreptitiously injects organized crime forces into the region to have informal operators capable of causing political instability at times when the regime wants to collect accounts .

After describing the consequences of the Bolivarian administration on Venezuela and the Almagro region, he indicates what many experts have already pointed out: it is a sophisticated dilemma whose solution follows untrodden paths of politics. And those paths are those of cohabitation.
To the extent that the Venezuelan regime managed to petrify itself in power, to that same extent, Almagro indicates, it is impossible to extirpate it despite its lack of legitimacy and the universal repudiation of its conduct exhibited by both the international community and the Venezuelan collective.

And even when Almagro does not define in his proposal the contents of the cohabitation that should be fostered in Venezuela, he does give some clues about how to start the assembly. According to Almagro, cohabitation “”… implies an exercise in real political dialogue, shared institutionality, shared State powers”…” In a scheme of permanent tension, it has to be regulated in such detail that the best formula continues to be the Swiss formula of collegiate system. The regional example is the Uruguayan Constitution of 52” … “Sharing is counterbalancing. Cohabitation without counterweights can become complicity”

In a few words, Almagro proposes the establishment of quotas of power between the Chavista group and the one that opposes it. These quotas would be represented by the assumption of control in various powers by a mosaic of political forces that, having delimited their territory, should carry out their responsibilities without confrontations or tripping.

In short, Almagro, without indicating it, proposes that the foundations of a liberal democracy be built from the rubble of Chavismo. And from the point of view of political rationality, he is absolutely right.

The problems come with the design of the operational plan. Or as the Anglo-Saxons say “the devil hides in the details”.

Because the cast is not abundant to build a constructive cohabitation. Almagro himself intuits this difficulty by indicating “The problem has been with those who sheltered that regime in those various phases of deterioration or crisis or collapse or breakdown of the constitutional order that the country is experiencing today. “Because that cast of death is in force and will form the first barrier of opposition to the proposal. For them, a status quo that guarantees personal well-being is better than a democratization where the size of that well-being is unknown or subject to democratic scrutiny.

And the only way to transcend that barrier is by identifying genuine leadership whose only source of legitimacy is civil society. Without the free recognition and without alterations of civil society to the leaders of the opposition and of Chavismo, the system could not be armed because it would become what it has been these last 20 years: the sale of the right to legitimacy for a plate of lentils. And so the first step towards the cohabitation system that Almagro correctly suggests was lost in 2015. So that for the proposal to have the vital energy that will lead it to success, it is necessary to look at the heart of Venezuela and of the Venezuelans tied to an infamous destiny described by Almagro as “It is a people that lives in hell with a path that is not never forks.” Because there is no watershed towards freedom.

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