The Venezuelan elections of April 14, 2013

By Carlos Alberto Montaner *

The main purpose and priority of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy is to defend liberty and the Rule of Law in Latin America, and the upcoming elections that will be held in the coming days in Venezuela became our concern. What is occurring is very worrying.

The next Venezuelan election could be the last one taking place which will still have certain vestiges of pluralism and some respect for the democratic norms. The apparent overwhelming advantages that the Government has exploited, completely discredits the electoral process. Democratic legitimacy implies respect for the opponent.

Civic cordiality is not an element alien to democratic Governments: it is part of its essence. Personal insults - Maduro has come to question the sexuality of his opponent-, adding direct threats to the Minister of Defense, the use and abuse of the media, announcing that the opposition will never occupy power -as if the alternation in Government was not a desired constant in democratic countries-, reveal a growing authoritarian mentality that can lead to a single-party dictatorship as the one that the Cubans have suffered for the last 54 years.

That sad outcome is very possible if Maduro wins elections or imposes his victory by other means - some statisticians insist that there is electronic fraud. After all, at the end of the eighties, Nicolas Maduro, then member of a militant Marxist Group, went to Cuba to educate himself politically and ideologically at the Nico Lopez Superior School of the Cuban Communist Party, where he obtained a skewed vision of power, society, the economy and international relations.

Twenty-five years later, his Cuban teachers and mentors suggested or imposed his candidacy. Maduro was "the man of the Cuban people", he would be the heir of Hugo Chávez. What for? To protect the interests of the island, including copious subsidies received, and why not, repeat in Venezuela the same Government model implemented by Castro. If before it was vision, now they have made it a mission.

Perhaps this immense tragedy can be avoided on April 14 if Venezuelan Democrats are able to get out the vote in masses and bury this authoritarian project under a mountain of votes. 

It is a difficult, but not impossible task.

*Member of the Advisory Council and Director of the IID.