The New International

by Israel Centeno    /  April 10, 2014  / No comments

The battle over history and information in Venezuela’s violent politics.

Madruo Crumbling

Photo: Julio César Mesa via Flickr.

For some dilettantes of dialectic materialism, the world has not turned. For them, Nicolás Maduro is Salvador Allende and the Venezuelan opposition is the old Chilean right. What a disservice to the Chilean ex-president! This opinion group is working tirelessly in every field to bury and discredit testimonies from victims of the Venezuelan civil uprising and the irrefutable documentation of human rights violations that has been collected and verified therein. To discredit this proof, these spokespeople adulterate language and change the meaning of words, appealing to the usual labels and stigmas.

  1. Night Watch, a column by Israel Centeno
  2. From his lonely watch post Albert Camus asked who among us has not experienced exile yet still managed to preserve a spark of fire in their soul. “We’re all alone,” Natalia Sedova cried in exile on hearing of her husband Leon Trotsky’s affair with Frida Kahlo. In his novel Night Watch, Stephen Koch follows the incestuous love affair of David and Harriet, wealthy siblings watching the world from their solitary exile. Koch’s writing, Camus’s theories, and Trotsky’s affair all come back to exile and lead me to reflect on the human condition. From my own vantage point, my Night Watch, I will reflect on my questions of exile, writing, and the human condition.
  3. Israel Centeno
  4. Israel Centeno was born in 1958 in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in Pittsburgh as a Writer-in-Residence with City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. He writes both novels and short stories, and also works as an editor and professor of literature. He has published nine books in Venezuela and three in Spain.

Without taking the trouble to find out who the Venezuelan opposition is, they compare the opposition to the classic right, even though the facts show that two thirds of the organizations that form the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) have a historical and conceptual relationship with socialism.

In deconstructing reality, “the Socialist International of the 21st Century” echoes and supports the campaign led by Nicolás Maduro’s government with its enormous media machine. Venezuelan students are not victims, they say; they have been infiltrated by murderers. The massive demonstrations on the streets—a contradiction—are branded as a rich-people’s rebellion. The paramilitary groups’ attacks on public and private universities are a set-up, part of an international campaign to discredit the government.

Consequently, as a result of the work done by these blind supporters, the victims of State terrorism have become the murderers.

The Venezuelan Penal Forum along with PROVEA, the same organization that assisted in defending the human rights of Hugo Chávez and the military when they attempted a coup d’état in 1992, have recorded the human rights violations that occurred during the protests in February and March 2014. They’ve documented the methods employed by the National Guard and the paramilitary groups known as colectivos—systematic torture, rape, forced disappearances, illegal house raids, excessive use of force—as well as each of the murders. It’s also important to note that they recorded how the powers that be ordered these armed groups to act without mercy. Nevertheless, outside the city, the official Bolivarian line is being circulated by “the Socialist International of the 21st Century,” who insist upon drawing similarities between the current situation and Chile in 1973. This is detrimental to the memory of those events.

The same people who justify the FARC question the guarimbas.

Many of the voices of “the Socialist International of the 21st Century” have come to Caracas as they would usually go to Havana, with their fingers in their ears and their critical eye closed, since during a revolution anything goes. They stay in residential areas that, horrified, they brand as fascist slums. The truth is that these are simply rundown middle-class neighborhoods. And, from there, they applaud the work undertaken by the colectivos “del amor” in the 23 de Enero district. I doubt they have made the effort to talk freely with the people of that district, since the residents of 23 de Enero have known the terror of the paramilitary colectivos and have lived under their dictatorship far longer than any other district.

The voices of “the Socialist International of the 21st Century” advocate humanist values with passion. Humanist, not human. They twist words and lie in the name of truth. They use the same statistics that Fidel Castro used for fifty-five years to justify his despotism. Our inquisitors of just causes overlook the rentier reality of the Venezuelan State and its failure in the fight against corruption, insecurity, and poverty. They use subterfuge when anyone mentions the disappearance of independent powers, the subjugation of judges and all levels of the legal system—from district attorneys up to the central authorities—and the insecurity of the electoral arbitrators. They view representatives with disgust if they so much as suggest that exile for political reasons should be added to statistics, that the system of production has been broken, or that nowadays the nation is more dependent on foreign interests than ever before.

If you talk to them about Cuban interference, they cough in the direction of the United States.

They tear out their hair over the violence of the barricades in Venezuela, yet they still celebrate the involvement of Hugo Chávez and the military in the failed coup d’état on February 4, 1992; an image that, of course, reminds us of the siege of La Moneda in Santiago de Chile.

The amateur defenders of socialism of the 21st century, with the moral superiority with which they are blessed, name and describe, in detail, all the injustices of the southern hemisphere, except those caused by the Castro brothers. Therefore, they inform us of their alliance with the continent’s oldest dictatorship in known history.

This spokesmanship for socialism of the 21st century has been inherited from the intellectuals who sat around in Parisian cafés playing dumb when anyone approached them with accounts of Stalin’s concentration camps. Right up until the last moment, they maintained that the stories of Gulag camps were spawned from capitalist laboratories. Even now, they play down the importance of the trials in Moscow and the famine in the Ukraine. They insist on highlighting the evils of humanity, but only in one direction. They are very similar to the people they themselves criticize.

About the Author

Israel Centeno was born in 1958 in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in Pittsburgh as a Writer-in-Residence with City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. He writes both novels and short stories, and also works as an editor and professor of literature. He has published nine books in Venezuela and three in Spain.

View all articles by Israel Centeno

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