Transition towards democracy begins by identifying criminals who will not be unpunished

Carlos Sánchez Berzaín

The terminal situation that 21st Century Socialism dictatorships in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua find themselves in is so notorious that they can only hang-on to power through State terrorism and the violation of human rights. As part of the unavoidable demise of dictatorships, the resistance and those in exile have begun planning the transition from dictatorship to democracy in Cuba, something that can yield immediate effects by identifying criminals who are in power to ensure they will not go unpunished.

The fight for freedom, these past few years, has endured an abysmal failure of what had been expected would be democratic transitions, but instead were the further entrenchment of dictatorships in Venezuela and Bolivia. Juan Guaido’s legitimate government never succeeded at being such. The so-called Transitional Government of Jeanine Añez in Bolivia turned out to be an interim government of continuity in which “the dictator left, but not the dictatorship” where interim officials and functional opposition members betrayed the nation.

On 5 February of 2019, Venezuela’s Legislative Assembly approved as law the “Statute governing the transition towards democracy to restore the validity of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela” thus further embracing the Chavist Bolivarianism and annihilating the transition by defining: “by transition, it is understood to be the road-map of democratization and re-institutionalization that includes the following phases; the liberation from the autocratic regime that oppresses Venezuela, the conformation of a provisional government of national unity and the conduct of free elections”. They did not allow, as a first step, the conformation of a provisional government to free themselves of the autocratic regime with that government.

Following Evo Morales’ electoral fraud in the 20 October of 2019 elections and the violations of human rights he committed, he resigned in-writing with the approval of his legislative and Senator Jeanine Añez assumed the presidency on 12 November of 2019. It was expected this government to be a transition from dictatorship to democracy, but it turned out to be “an interim continuity” that preserved the dictatorship’s constitution approved by counterfeiting to supplant the Constitution of the Republic of Bolivia. The interim president, applying the dictatorship’s constitution proclaimed to be a presidential candidate herself in the elections she was tasked to conduct, something that could not have been possible had she used the Republic’s constitution.

In both cases, in Venezuela and Bolivia, dictators Nicolas Maduro and Evo Morales were never detained, prosecuted, or tried. Their dictatorial surroundings remained and continues to be unpunished; they were allowed to continue operating their manipulated and corrupted justice systems to protect themselves, neither the constitution nor any of the contemptuous laws were changed, the regime’s criminal groups were not dismantled, the narco-State mechanisms remained intact, and more.

Transition is “the act or effect of going from one way of being to another different”. To change from dictatorship to democracy is to go from violating human rights, staying indefinitely in power through State terrorism, committing crimes against humanity with political prisoners and exiles to respecting human rights, the existence of the rule of law with the separation and independence of the branches of government, conducting free and fair elections, not having political prisoners or exiles.

The failure of Venezuela and Bolivia’s transition demonstrates that for there to be transition, it is essential to restore the legal system of the “rule of law” by completely eliminating the dictatorship’s system of legal simulation, hold everyone accountable and not allow for there to be impunity. Transition will occur only if the dictatorship’s pseudo-legal system is ended and impunity is not allowed.

The importance of working in Cuba’s transition from dictatorship to democracy rests in the fact that Cuba is the Chief Dictatorship and the epicenter of Castrochavism or 21st Century Socialism’s dictatorships. It also rests on the fact that beyond structuring the new political system there, those individuals who comprise the contemptuous system can be readily identified. We must, therefore, make the planning for the transition a central component for the prompt defeat of the dictatorship.

Illegal and illegitimate power holders in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua’s dictatorships must clearly know they will not go unpunished, that their lifetime is not long enough to be able to die, with impunity, from old age such as dictator Fidel Castro. They must know they are identified by their crimes against humanity and their unexplainable and ill-gotten wealth, they must know there will be no place in the world where they can either hide or protect their bloody spoils. They must also know that the transition towards democracy has begun by identifying them, highlighting their crimes, placing them in the spotlight.

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

Translation from Spanish by Edgar L. Terrazas

Published in Spanish by Sunday March 27, 2022.

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