Byline: Mara Orchard, Staff Writer
The historic event in Venezuela on Oct. 7 has inspired me to write my thoughts. I am just a citizen focusing on analyzing the political situations instead of blinding myself or shouting with radicalism. I’m going to focus on and explain events from my point of view, based on my experiences. I still remember the failed coup of the current president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez Frias, in 1994, an event that frames the history and direction of the country.
In the government of Carlos Andrez Perez, popular discontent was beginning to emerge. The so-called “economic paquetazo” enraged a people who cried for change, for more equality and better lifestyles.
Without too many details, that discontent was also planted in the armed forces. After the failure of the coup of Commander Chavez, the government made the mistake of transmitting the face of the leader of the failed coup over television. The people were able to identify a leader. People recognized him, a leader willing to fight for their interests, fight for their discontent.
When they imprisoned Chavez, the presidential candidate Rafael Caldera used it as a political strategy. Congress would mandate his release and the release of all those involved in the failed coup. The people, people driven by political parties, supported freeing the man who faced off against the Carlos Andrés Pérez government. Caldera won the election, and Chavez was released.
I still remember Chavez was participating in the elections of 1999. I was teaching history at an educational institute, a private, prestigious school. The students were the future generations of the Venezuelan elite, children and grandchildren of the most prestigious leaders and former presidents of Venezuela. I was just a student of social sciences of the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, managing to start my learning at an early age.
My students saw with fear the emergence of this social leader. I remember mentioning the word Socialist before the political strategy of Chavez had been portrayal that way. But I wondered, who among the Venezuelan people would identify with this Socialist leader?
You simply have to read Venezuelan history. In general, Venezuelan political parties focused on keeping power in their hands and educated an ignorant people so they would be easy to handle. In other words, we were forming our own history. We are the product of leaders past. To change that way of thinking it was going to take time, so we matured and prepared so that future generations wouldn’t have to live with the mistakes of the past.
In 1996, Chavez won by a landslide as the second candidate in Venezuelan history with much electoral participation. That happened this time? Another historical moment, the leading opposition, in only three months campaigning, Henrique Capriles Radosky achieveed the support of more than six million Venezuelans who hoped for change, a hope that was formed not by a social leader, but a political analyst, a key used by the government to confuse and manipulate the people once more. There was once more as much electoral participation. Let me explain another historic moment once more.
When the primary won the presidential candidate for Henrique Capriles, the opposition, the media circulated a picture of all the opposing candidates holding hands. Once more, the Venezuelan people will identify with an image. The image of the unit, the image of the political hope of change from so many years of power concentrated in one person. The opposition is United, which it has not been previously. The opposition was organized, and the leader of progress was Henrique Capriles Radosky.
The campaign took another course. He traveled town by town planting an ideology of change and hope, ideology to build a new country where all rights would be respected and equality would exist for all Venezuelans. Capriles did not commit the error of previous opposition candidates. He did not focus his campaign on hatred or attacks against president Chavez but focused on “Progress for a better Venezuela.”
For the first time, the government had a great opponent. Fear was planted in many sectors of the government, and the policy to frighten the people changed because there was no longer any fear. President Chavez has concentrated mostly on international affairs and has forgetten the internal affairs of the country. Chavez feared the emergence of this young leader prepared and willing to take leadership. Many people woke up, many people followed and many people supported him.
Capriles Randosky lost the presidential elections, but Venezuela won a leader. The people gave a message to the government that half of Venezuelan citizens are not in accordance with its policy. Change is going to take more time than I thought, but the seeds are sown and Capriles Randosky has given the message of hope that united you can build a better future. This has not been a defeat. This was the beginning of what is going to lead to a change in all sectors of the country.
I’m not politically radical, but I do not think a person should stay so long in government. Ideals of hatred and exclusion should not be grown within Venezuelans. A leader guides, not condemns. Past governments have left us with the outcome of the elections on Oct. 7. A town can be manipulated, but a born leader can teach people to have hope, that they still have the power and that opposition needs to reorganized. There are future generations who deserve to live in a better Venezuela. This is just the beginning.
I understand the Venezuelans who woke up disappointed after the elections, but I ask, ‘How can I make a difference?’ I’m following my training at UVU in international studies and preparing once more, not in the field of education, but in the international field. I am achieving my goals to bring something to my society. The same Venezuela sounds great, always ready and fighting for your ideals, but only if you never lose hope.