Diario Las Américas, 08-16-2013

When there is No Democracy

By Carlos Sanchez Berzain



Objective observation is the only way to do analysis and perform in politics; as an example, let us remember recent news from some countries of Latin America of what happens when there is no Democracy. Just in the first 15 days of August, the following facts have occurred.

Angel Carromero, a Spanish citizen and politician, is free in his country after being convicted and imprisoned by the justice system in Cuba. On August 5 he accused the Castro government of killing Oswaldo Paya, the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, and Harold Cepero, in the so-called "accident" of Bayamo. The data and disclosures are in addition to previous suspicions and allegations of the families of the victims. This is not an isolated case of eliminating political opponents in the 54 years of the Castro dictatorship; perhaps we can count thousands, but this is one of the latest cases that should generate an independent international investigation in which very few governments appear to be interested. The attitude of the dictatorship is to minimize the case, discredit the complainants and eliminate the case from the news.

Human Rights Watch, recognized as one of the leading international organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights, on August 12 issued this statement summarized by its Director for the Americas: "The government of President Correa has seriously tampered freedom of expression, devoting much of his energy to attack the media, and now is trying to take over the independent organizations (NGOs) "adding that" in practice, government officials will decide what organizations may say or do”... "This is just a reflection of the full power of the President of Ecuador, that began long ago with the confiscation of media, prosecution of journalists, politicians , indigenous leaders, businessmen and others, controlling the judiciary and all public authorities, and is now coming full circle to silence the part of the public that is still out of his control.

In Venezuela, the entire ruling party is concentrated to finish up Henrique Capriles. The Supreme Court declared inadmissible the appeal by the opposition candidate regarding the elections (whose claim for nullity denounces fraud), it fined him and asked the prosecution to prosecute Capriles for "using offensive concepts”. Government is accusing him of “irregular payments in the State of Miranda”, and from the Legislative Branch, Diosdado Cabellos said on August 14th that: “The arms of Justice will reach the fascist murderer Capriles Radonski”.

This shows that Maduro's government has already decided Capriles’s political future and they only need to agree if they will accuse him of murder, terrorism, corruption or crimes against the State, which are the four types of crime that their partners Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua are using to end political opponents and criminalize politics…when they cannot physically eliminate them.

In Bolivia, Prosecutors from Evo Morales’s government issued arrest warrants against the Tipnis indigenous leaders who defend an environmentally protected national park -where they live - from Morales initiative of constructing a highway which will benefit his coca labor unions; The indigenous remain as refugees in their union headquarters, and on August 11th they have requested political asylum in several embassies. In another case, the government is prosecuting the High Military Command under Eduardo Rodriguez after the ruling party dismissed the charge against him and immediately named him ambassador and representative on the maritime issue raised against Chile. The military personnel accused -one is a Senator for the Opposition- have denounced the political agreement between Morales and Rodriguez. Evo Morales's message is already known: if you serve the Government you are innocent, if you’re an opponent ... …

This happens when there is no democracy and when still there is resistance to call those governments for what they are: dictatorships of the XXI Century Socialism.


The author is a lawyer and political scientist.

Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.