October 22, 2018
In an article published Oct. 17 in The New York Times, US-born Venezuelan lawyer, writer and activist Eva Golinger criticized President Nicolas Maduro’s authoritarian grip on power. Golinger is not just any critic but a close collaborator of the late Hugo Chávez, the progressive Venezuelan president who enacted radical, democratic reforms during the revolutionary period known as the Bolivarian revolution.
According to Golinger:
While some believe that Mr. Maduro inherited a tyrannical government from his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, I beg to differ. I was a close confidante of Mr. Chávez and was there for his rise and fall.
In her NYT piece, the renowned and outspoken human rights lawyer sets the record straight about Chávez with whom she bonded throughout the years she was in Venezuela:
The Hugo Chávez I knew believed in social justice, equality and fundamental freedoms. He won landslide majorities in multiple elections. He was even re-elected when he was dying of cancer — that’s how popular he was in Venezuela. Mr. Chávez pardoned many of his adversaries, even those who attempted to overthrow him in a violent coup.
Did he have authoritarian tendencies? His military background left him with a firm belief in hierarchy. The longer he remained in power, the more entrenched he became, which is why term limits and checks and balances are essential to a healthy democracy.
After making a clear distinction between Chávez and Maduro, Golinger compares Maduro to Trump:
I’ve seen that same behavior in Donald Trump, who has surrounded himself with family members, giving them jobs for which they have no experience or knowledge. It’s a standard autocratic tactic in order to keep a tight grip on power, stemming from the paranoia that power addiction creates, and the narcissistic belief that no one can do things better.
Nicolás Maduro is no Hugo Chávez. He is an unpopular president with questionable legitimacy, accused of widespread violations of human rights, corruption and elections fraud. Though he tries to emulate Mr. Chávez, he is more similar to his northern counterpart, Donald Trump.
As of this writing, Venezuela is facing one of its darkest moments as large segments of the population face the brunt of an economic crisis. Mass opposition to Maduro is rooted in his implementation of austerity measures that only benefit the wealthy few and foreign, multinational companies. Golinger is also critical of Washington and its foreign policy in Latin America and the Caribbean.
While she is critical of Maduro, Golinger also opposes any kind of foreign intervention to solve what she believes are internal problems of Venezuela. Golinger thinks the political calss in the US should respect Venezuela’s sovereignty and focus on getting rid of corruption and reversing Trump’s attacks on US democracy:
Should he be ousted in a coup, crippled by economic sanctions or overthrown in a foreign invasion? No. Venezuela’s problems must be resolved by Venezuelans. Instead of entertaining the possibility of a military intervention to remove Mr. Maduro, Washington should focus on circumventing our own budding kleptocracy led by another aspiring autocrat.