Corruption unmasks the Bolivarian Revolution – By Víctor Julio Galicia

23 Apr

2012 is a very important year to Venezuela and Latin America. October elections are looming in the South American country, and not only is Hugo Chavez’s life at risk, but also the future of his Revolución Bolivariana, that, just as the aggressive cancer facing him (and that we know too little about given the Official silence), typical Cuban hermetism, seems to be rotting the Venezuelan government inside out.

Now Chavez not only feels the duty to recover medically, but to ensure the continuity of the socialist project he began more than a decade ago, a project which keeps the country divided into two polarized and almost irreconcilable camps: self proclaimed Chavistas and -no other option but- Opponents.

The South American President made sure to promote over the years Louis XIV’s “L’état c’est moi” style, a delightful cult to his own persona, achieved through the many TV appearances, mandatory to all national broadcasters, not only among its supporters but also the military and civil service, who unashamedly have publicly stated their commitment to the “Socialismo del Siglo XXI”.

But the high interventionism and the many economic controls, in which American capitalism is the number one enemy (despite being Venezuela’s leading trading partner), may not be the most relevant aspect of the Bolivarian regime -which has little or none to do with Bolivar himself- but the corruption that has been associated historically to the country after oil discovery, its main export, reaching now levels as high as oil prices.

The Aponte Aponte case. 

The most recent scandal to hit Venezuela is the Eladio Aponte Aponte’s case. Aponte, former judge of the Supreme Court, who was ousted from his office by the unanimous vote of deputies to the National Assembly last month, for alleged ties to the illegal drug trade and specifically his relationship to the recently accused Walid Makled, who Aponte provided a General Military Attorney’s Office credential, letting him establish important drug-related businesses in Puerto Cabello with the help of military and civil servants, as he later confessed to have benefited; one of those was Aponte Aponte.

During an interview with a television station based in Miami, Eladio Aponte Aponte, now a fugitive and allegedly under the protection of the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States (DEA), stated that as a judge he used to receive calls very often from the President Hugo Chavez himself, and other top officers, with guidelines to handle his cases according to the political scene, always favoring the government interests, of course, but denied any knowledge of the illegal activities of Walid Makled before they came out to the public spotlight.

Members of the government and the ruling party, came forward to state that Aponte Aponte is saying what America wants him to say as a part of smear campaign to generate crisis in the country, but no investigation on his statements has been ordered to date.

It’s still unknown what will happen to all cases handled by Aponte Aponte, having confessed to the manipulation of evidence, in some cases to please the government. Cases such as the 30 year sentence given to Ivan Simonovis, former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, charged along with Henry Vivas and Lazaro Forero, today political prisoners after the events of April 11, 2002, where in the midst of a serious political upheaval that forced the temporary departure of Hugo Chavez from power, 19 people were killed by gunmen who fired at opposition protesters from Puente Llaguno bridge in Caracas.

Perhaps, what’s relevant in the Aponte Aponte case is the stain of illegitimacy it imprints to the exercise of power in Venezuela. Judges, prosecutors, generals, all accused of putting the revolution over the Constitution, which states without seeming to achieve it, the separation of powers and the adherence to the rule of law. Today this is seriously worn in the South American country.

This is a crucial moment, where a morally and physically weakened Hugo Chavez will have to face the strengthened Henrique Capriles, Miranda state governor and elected candidate of the Venezuelan opposition, in an open primary election which involved about 3 million Venezuelans, high above all expectations.

Whether this will be the deepening of the Socialismo del Siglo XXI towards a Communist regime or the rescue of the lost democracy in a country once a role model for good to Latin America, 2012 is a year that will see a change in Venezuela.

Is there really any influence of Venezuela’s position towards the ‘Yankee’ government on other Latin American countries? Is Cuba behind it? Definitely yes, but, is it a positive or a negative thing? Guess we’ll have to find out where is the limit of acceptability.

Follow Víctor on Twitter: @vjgaliciap

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