by María L. Trigos-Gilbert

Though I have named my article “Venezuela & Hugo Chávez Frías,” this is not really about one person for one country, in this case Venezuela one of the Latin American countries. On the contrary, what makes a country is not just its president, but its people. We talk a lot about democracy in the USA, but do we really know the meaning of it? Most of you may say that yes, you know all about democracy because this is your political foundation, and indeed your belief. Yet I do also have my belief. My belief tells me that things are not just black and white. By the way, the colors allusion is not about people’s skin color. This is just a term referring that we should not look at life with one glass spectrum. Democracy is like a pot luck. All of the contributions are voluntarily. Everybody has a vote. Is this reality? Absolutely the answer is NO. We may talk a lot, write a lot and debate a lot. In the end we may not be heard by our politicians, just like in any communist country. At times, in those communist countries people may be heard a lot more closely than we indeed presume in our so-called perfect system.

José Vicente Rangel is a Venezuelan politician for whom I have a lot respect. He said something when I was a teenager that I would never ever forget. “Who cares if you have freedom of speech if no one listens to what you have to say.” For the first time, I found an honest politician saying what I had felt, indeed what perhaps many Venezuelans had felt. It is a terrible feeling when you know that you are in a democratic system, but sensing futilely most of the time. José Vicente Rangel spoke about injustices which gave some sorts of privileges to the wrong people. He represented the MAS party. MAS translates Movement Toward Socialism, and in Spanish “Movimiento Al Socialismo.” His speeches were few, but his actions were great. Personally, I do not think that he has been totally perfect. On the other hand, his good intentions have meant a lot. Honest or true politicians are scarce, almost out of existence.

USA’s & World’s Democracy
In most democratic countries, democracy has proven to be partial—biased—or limited if you may give it so much credit. One day when I was driving to my place of work, I saw along the way many shanty houses. I asked myself, “Why, why does this happen in a country that is supposed to be so rich and organized? Why is there so much inequality? Why do I see so many well prepared, educated, people holding two or at worst three jobs in order to have a decent life? Why does this happen in the USA?” As you may guess, I got zero answers. Yet, when I go to Venezuela, I do not ask myself those questions because I know that there has been a giant corruption acting like the machinery that has ran our political and economic entities. So there I seem to have an answer for those undesirable patterns. Certainly if we go and check out other democratic countries, we may find the same disproportion among their citizens’ social statues. It is as if you were born poor with little chances of succeeding. Of course, we know about many cases of people who were born poor, but have succeeded somehow. I understand that life is one struggle after another. It is as if we must confront bitterness before really tasting the world’s sweetness.

What about Venezuela?
Recently I have gotten some e-mail from the USA and Venezuela. Some of the mail is about the economic and political situation of the tropical country of Venezuela. The other part is about people wanting to know more about Venezuela and Hugo Chávez Frías, the Venezuelan president. What should I say and what should I not say? Some of the e-mail coming from Venezuela is a bit discouraging. North American missionaries are a bit concerned for some of the crimes that are taking place due to a new law that the government recently implanted. This new law tries to take care of old legal cases that have not been solved. So let’s say that some people have been in jail for five years, though their crime really deserved two years. Yet they have been waiting in jail just to have a trial. Those are sad situations besides harsh. The law has been implemented, so many people got their freedom. The time that they spent in jail, was not to get reform, or to better themselves. On the contrary, many of them have been holding their enrage toward the system and the country as a whole.

Jail in General & Latin American Jails
Let me spend another small paragraph telling you what you already know. To be in jail, whether here or in Latin America, is not a nice experience, without taking into consideration the amount of time. Many of the prisoners in those Latin American jails have a harder time than the inmates have in the USA’s jails since Latin jails are a lot more precarious than it is in the USA. Some of them do not seem to have a chance even if they try to do what is right in jail or outside. So the more crime there is in Venezuela; the more difficult it gets for them, those already in jail. This is because they get overpopulated, causing the less of everything that helps them to survive their sentences. There are piles of cases waiting to be solved, at least waiting for a verdict. So there had not been so many mistrials or appellations since there have not been so many trials after all. Mr. Hugo Chávez has decided that this is not going to take place anymore. He is giving his best shots in order to stop this horrible occurrences. He had to take a decision, had to release the people who he felt the system has failed them for not giving them a trial, or even a fair trial. Some of those people are one word CROOKS! Some of them have taken advantage of their freedom to do the right things that life and freedom offer them.

Case Example, USA 18th Constitutional Amendment, 16 January 1919 About what was this amendment? It was about prohibiting the selling or the buying of alcohol. Yet what did this amendment cause? Let’s start by examining the two encouraging known facts.

Two positive results:

#1. North Americans’ savings accounts rose.

#2. North Americans decreased absenteeism at work.

Hey, are not those two results super wonderful? I think that you think so just like I do. The amendment helped the USA a lot. People kind of felt that this was a better way of living. Yet was it all pink and rosy? No, it was not. Billions of dollars were offered to those who illegally were willing to make some whiskey. There were more volunteers than there was money. This took place here in the USA. The alcohol prohibition created a silent chaos. With time the law changed; the North Americans found it intolerable. By that time, people thought that to drink was not a crime, though the law made it like a night-dark crime. This gave a false impression since not all drinkers were alcoholic people. Some of them were just social drinkers, just from time to time flavoring some whiskey, wine, etc,. This case example is to show that new laws are at times wise. At other times they are not so wise. On this earth nothing is so pure and clean. Everything seems to bring some good and some bad. It is almost impossible to have control over all the possible variables, not matter how much time it is invested. Certainly practice makes the master!

The Deal of Being a Country’s President
Mr. Hugo Chávez is doing what he thinks is right. He is getting help from many educated and wise people. Yet they are not perfect; they are like us at work, trying their best. For a president it is impossible to practice his presidency since it is a one time shot. Yes, you get prepare for it. You do some campaigning. You may have been a governor previously, or having any other type of political background. Yet your first day as a president is your first day at work without being there before, unless we are talking about a reelected president. Then we are talking about a totally different picture since the president should be familiar with the drills that the job brings. The deal of being a country’s president is the knowledge that he or she must have to bring up a good economy for the country. The president must improve all the government’s services to help out its citizens. The president must study carefully those laws that are of a public matter, whether for a few citizens or for many. The case is to cover all those areas that are needed plus to uncover all the crookedness that may be surrounding some governmental and private areas of a given country. Mr. H. Chávez has been doing all that.

Mr. Hugo Chávez Resembles Mr. Fidel Castro?
I read a web-page written by Mr. Mark Falcoff. There he compares and differentiates Mr. H. Chávez and Mr. F. Castro, the Cuban president. He points out that both of them seem to have a socialistic point of view. They both tried to overthrow the so-called dishonest presidents and political parties, each one in his respective country. Mr. M. Falcoff states that each of these presidents have replaced their civil ministers or government employees with military ministers, or military employees in different areas. If you were a preacher, you more likely will favor those who attend church with regularity plus seem to have a great degree of faithfulness. Therefore, Mr. H. Chávez prefers those with whom he has already spent a considerable time. They have shown him respect toward the country; this is to say the country’s people. They have demonstrated him an unmeasured desire to do good toward the country. Those military people seem to have character and disposition plus a giant freshness to act upon what is being needed, and even more neglected by the cupidity of so many politicians who have polluted the country of Venezuela for so many years. Thus Mr. Hugo Chávez is a fine man for a very fine country.

A Closer View, Mr. H. Chávez & Mr. F. Castro
I honestly admire two aspects of Mr. F. Castro; those are the following: His tenacity and vigor. Mr. F. Castro after four decades as the president of Cuba remains standing. With the passing time, he has proven to manage being a president in power, not a self ambitious president. He has made it evident that there are some deals that he will not take or even trade because of his belief in socialism. Of course, the other side of the coin presents that Mr. F. Castro’s lack of compromising has brought him many, perhaps, avoidable problems nationally and internationally tragedies. The truth is that all of us pay a price for what we do, say, or even think. Cuba’s international isolation has been one of the many prices that Mr. F. Castro has had to pay. This has not only included Mr. F. Castro, but the Cuban people. Some of the Cuban people have resented Mr. F. Castro for this isolation; other Cubans have been very glad to pay this price. So, as funny as it may seem, they have had two common choices like any other people from any other country, the choice of rejection toward such system, or the choice of being part of the whole process. Whichever they opt to pursue, they must fight for it. There is not an easy answer in either case. Both are still hard calls to take.

More about H. Chávez & F. Castro
It is not true that Mr. H. Chávez is like a copy of Mr. F. Castro. The scenarios are different as well as their backgrounds, though with some sort of similarity in what overthrowing their countries’ presidents is concerned. The reasons are similar. Both of them got tired of their corrupted presidents and governments’ services. Both of them analyzed and lived the many privileges that some important few had during those years of cupidity. They knew that they had to take action. Otherwise, their Latin American countries would have remained mere histories, or at worst tales. In spite of all these similarities they are in different places, fighting for different reasons. For instance, Mr. H. Chávez trusts and thinks that this is what Simón Bolivar would have liked and fought for since he gave freedom to five Latin American Nations from the subjugation of the Spaniard people. The only detail is that this time Spain is not the issue. Spain has remained for a long time disjoined to the Latin American troubles or virtues since it is what the Latin American people have wanted and fought with much determination.

This time the problems are homemade deals that have impoverish Latin nations as it is the case with Venezuela and even Cuba. The other detail is that Mr. H. Chávez is not Simón Bolivar. Thus he is not fighting with foreigner, but against the crooked politicians of his own nation. This time is not about getting physical freedom, but physical and mental relieve from many Venezuelans’ wrong doings. When I write Venezuelans, I am trying to make it clear that yes, politicians have a giant part in all of the Venezuelan people’s problems. Nevertheless, many Venezuelans have forgotten their values as well as the purpose of their freedom. Freedom means improvement, sadly but without improvement there is not freedom. It is not just in Venezuela, though they have believed it too, that their political parties will take care of their needs. Of course, the truth is that in Venezuela and all around the world politicians will not act with goodness of their heart, unless the respective nations pay close attention to what they are saying, offering, and doing. If politicians are not held accountable, they will get out of their embarrassing and badly managed programs without any kind of penalty. If something you might remember from this article; it should be that freedom means improvement!

Show me democracy, and I show you justice. I don’t bite the lies because I don’t spend my time chewing them. I have tried to present you a clear picture of what’s taking place in Venezuela, a bit of Cuba’s past and present background, and some insides of the USA. I thank you for your attention, so much thanks.