Carlos Sánchez Berzain*

Peoples succumbed by socialism of the 21st century dictatorships struggle to regain freedom and democracy.  Those are unequal confrontations that at times seem to offer progress and victories, but that lead to the same result of maintaining the regime and eliminate opposition leaders.  This permanent vicious cycle of apparent victories and defeats is designed to be repeated because it occurs under the rules of the dictatorships, for the perpetuation in power of illegitimate Governments.

At the beginning of this century, the neo Castroism of Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro with anti-imperialist discourse, appearing only as a progressive tendency, expanded overthrowing democratic Governments, funding movements and campaigns, with lots of money and populist speeches.  In the Government executed the "institutional substitution": they ended democracy, changed constitutions, laws, regulations and institutions.

They ended up with the division and independence of public powers, now in charge of their subordinates.  They controlled the electoral power and assured the handling of all elections, disabling candidates, changing constituencies, voiding and falsifying identities, altering results. They implanted the sophism that "elections are democracy". They showed that, even losing elections, remain in power.

With their control of the judiciary they criminalized the political opposition and implemented the judicialization of repression; they ended with the "due process".  Prisoners and victims of political persecution in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua are "court-ordered" and with prosecution charges.  So great is the nerve in this area that the dictators use these trials to cover up their crimes and corruption; they call their victims “criminals” and transnationally persecute them.

Once destroyed the "rule of law", hence able to make laws from their whims through the legislature, confiscating, pursuing, extorting and imprisoning from the judiciary, using force, controlling the economy and Foreign Affairs from the Executive, and falsifying election results from the electoral controlling entity, they advanced against the free press which practically disappeared with forced sales, extortions, forfeitures, trials, judgments, removing of licensing and muzzle laws and censorship.  Thus, from the Government, corruption was institutionalized, promoted and concealed.

This tight and incomplete overview, on which there are books and extensive demonstrations, remembers that in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua, Cuba, there is not democracy because they don't have free elections, they do not have Rule of Law, they do not have independence and division of public powers, there is no political freedom (only as allowed by the regime), there is no freedom of the press.  They are rulers of indefinite duration that are called Presidents, living as nouveau riche, on suspicion of drug trafficking, with prisoners and exiled politicians, with crimes and massacres go unpunished, with economic crisis so serious like Cuba and Venezuela or disguised, but imminent as Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua.

In these countries, all the laws, institutions and authorities belong to the regime; they are dictatorial systems, because they exist thanks to it. Instead of protect they violate human rights. That is why in Venezuela, Maduro can command by TV to judges (like Chavez, Correa and Morales do) to imprison opponents. So Correa can sue newspapers, entrepreneurs and journalists and obtain judicial decisions with millionaire benefits that require victims to ask for forgiveness and allowing the appropriation of media and enterprises; so Morales can, with court ruling, have as political prisoners, members of the military high command that constitutionally resisted the crimes of the now dictator.  Why Ortega has indefinite re-election and is possibly the richest Nicaraguan. And about Cuba … So much to say!

What might expect former Presidents in Venezuela, from judges and authorities if the dictator does not allow? How much the new governors and mayors in Bolivia, can resist before they get recruited, prosecuted, murdered their reputation or eliminated physically? What the Ecuadorian people can do against confiscatory economic laws being carried by Correa? How to deny it if Ortega wants something from a Nicaraguan,? And with the Castro brothers...? Is it possible to regain freedom and democracy with dictatorship rules?

* Lawyer and political scientist.  Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy