The 21st Century Socialism’s dictatorships installed in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador starting with the revitalization of Cuba’s dictatorship, all have as a feature the disguising of populist and electoral processes, the illicit and illegitimate taking over of and permanence in power. Eliminating all of democracy’s essential components, violating human rights with political persecution, imprisonment, and exiles, making the rule of law and the separation and independence of the branches of government disappear, manipulating judges, and wrecking the political system, they established themselves as “vote-catching dictatorships”.
A vote-catching dictatorship is “the regime that by force or violence concentrates all political power in one person or group who represses human rights and basic individual freedoms and uses elections as the means of simulation and propaganda to indefinitely stay in power”. In the vote-catching dictatorship “people vote but do not elect” because elections are only a ritual in order for the dictator to continue simulating the legitimization of his absolute power, just as Chavez and Maduro in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Ortega in Nicaragua.
The 21st Century Socialism has produced “the functional opposition”, a simulation of real opposition, a make-believe opposition because it does not seek to access the helm of power. In a democracy, the concept of opposition “is related to political conflict understood to mean the mutual, simultaneous, and contradictory aspiration of opposing forces to reach one same objective” which is the access to power. The real opposition rests on the freedoms, political rights, pluralism, alternance of power, freedom of speech and universal suffrage.
Dictatorships have “institutionalized” their dictatorship with Constitutions, legislation and a governmental structure aimed to achieve -as something normal- the concentration of power, the control and the “legal” violation of human rights and individual basic freedoms. Castrochavist dictatorships have created in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador a “despicable legal order” because in their constitutions and laws they violate human rights, make universal suffrage disappear, end the people’s citizenship, supplant the retroactivity of the law and call it “the law” the infamous oppression to ensure the control of power and impunity.
It is fair to recognize the difficulty of being a political opponent in a dictatorship because, in general, there is resistance or dissidence only to the level the regime allows. The judicialized political persecution, the assassination of someone’s reputation, the arbitrary arrests, the extortions, and total abuse of power, the economic and moral decline take the opponents to jail or exile, when they manage to survive.
The more weakened the dictatorships, the more space there is for real opposition and that is what happens in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. When the peoples yearn and ask for “unity” to opposing politicians so that dictators can be removed and democracy can be afterwards recovered with an end of the dictatorial system, we see that more contradictions and divisions surge between opponents and that this way they continue yielding the initiative to dictators in Venezuela and Nicaragua and prevent the ending of the dictatorship following the resignation of the dictator, as is happening in Bolivia.
Leaders and self-denominated “opposition” groups in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, are not helping to neither remove the dictators, nor to end the dictatorships. The facts show that the bickering between them is more important than the fight against the dictatorships they end up sustaining. They divide the peoples to the point of discouraging them and to even think in the dictatorial continuity, as it happens in Bolivia. They don’t do anything to change the dictatorship’s system, they adjust to the dictatorial institutions and appear to be integrated to the dictatorship’s corruption system.
Opponents who pursue to recover freedom and democracy for their peoples cannot continue giving a show of political misery and disdain of the citizenry that now-a-days is sustaining dictatorships and the impunity of the dictators.
*Attorney & Political Scientist. Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.
Translated from Spanish by; Edgar L. Terrazas, member of the American Translators Association, ATA # 234680.