ESSAY ON THE FUNCTIONAL POLITICAL OPPOSITION IN A DICTATORSHIP
Carlos Sánchez Berzain*
By its nature and objectives political opposition is an inseparable part of democracy, reason why when it is deprived of the fundamental components of democracy it is rendered unrealizable. When democracy is supplanted, political opposition disappears, resistance is birthed and everything that is attributed to the opposition is but a simulation in order to legitimize the regime. This is known as “the functional opposition in a dictatorship” that far from being a true opposition is complicity.
Political opposition is the “expression of contradiction, indispensable in a democratic process of molding the political will and is the portrayal of freedom, human rights, pluralism, and the alternance in government” and must have, as an indispensable feature “the possibility to get to be the government through elections”. Resistance is “a set of people who, through different means, oppose invaders or a dictatorship.”
Democracy is “the form of government in which political power is yielded by the citizenry”, it is “the political doctrine according to which sovereignty rests in the people who yield power either directly or through their representatives”. Dictatorship is the “political regime that, through force or violence, converges all power into one person, group, or organization, and represses human rights and individual freedoms.”
For all of Americas’ governments, democracy is a human right “fundamental for the nations’ social, political, and economic development”. The Interamerican Democratic Charter sets out -amongst others- as fundamental components of democracy; “the respect for Human Rights and basic individual freedoms, access to political power and its conduct subject to the Rule of Law, holding of periodic elections that are free, fair, secret, and are based on universal suffrage concepts, as an expression of the people’s sovereignty, the existence of a plurality of political parties and organizations, and the separation and independence of the branches of government”.
If only just one of the fundamental components of democracy is lacking, there is no democracy, because fundamental is “that which constitutes the nature of things, the permanent, the most important and characteristic of a thing.” There is no half-hearted democracy, and labels such as; hybrid or imperfect, are interested fallacies that may be plausible but are of invalid political and academic reasoning in order to continue disguising dictatorial regimes as democracies.
In this legal and conceptual context, it is easily verifiable that the regimes from Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, are dictatorships since long ago. Cuba with the Castro brothers since 1959, Venezuela with Chavez since 2007 or before, and today without a doubt with Maduro, Nicaragua since -at least- 2009 with Ortega, and Bolivia since 2006 with Morales. These are regimes that do not abide by any of the fundamental components of democracy, perfectly fit into the mold and concept of a dictatorship, and in which there is no possibility to ever be a true political opposition.
Public and notorious events show the regimes from Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia to; violate Human Rights and individual basic freedoms as their governmental policy; have politically persecuted, imprisoned, or exiled; commit political crimes, crimes against humanity, and Transnational Organized crimes, all with impunity. The Rule of Law is absent because the dictator is the law; there is no chance of free or fair elections; the Judicial Branch is an instrument for political repression and persecution; there is no freedom of the press; there is no separation and independence of the branches of government, and more.
In that type of situation there are those who claim to be, and act as, “political opposition” and that beyond the inadequate use of such title they pretend to make Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Bolivians, and other throughout the world, believe they really oppose the regime. People ask, however, if; do they really believe there is democracy? Are they free to do as they please? Is there really pluralism? Does the system respect their human rights and individual basic freedoms? Do they have a chance to climb to power through elections?… and the answer to all of those questions is a resounding NO.
What the objective reality reveals is that Castroist Chavist, or 21st Century Socialism dictatorships, in the pursuit of their own interests, keep and sustain a functional political opposition that legitimizes the regime. This opposition is functional because its existence is allowed, encouraged, and sustained considering the easiness, usefulness, and convenience of their use for the continuity of the regime.
We must restore those in-good-faith opponents, because they exist and remain in the fight comprising the resistance. It is indispensable, however, to also identify those who became functional opponents solely by need, in order to survive, or were pressured, coerced, or intimidated, from those opponents who became the functional opposition driven by financial and personal interests, interests to preserve their estate, or to improve their position and increase their estate either directly or through concessions, permits, contracts, and any other type of dealings with the government and in a system plagued with corruption.
We can no longer continue in the deception that there are real opponents in Transnational Organized Crime’s dictatorships whose cruelty and corruption have been proved and are beyond any doubt. Functional opponents sustain dictatorships because they know they will fall when the regimes fall and this is the biggest part of the problem why the regaining of democracy is taking so long.
*Attorney & Political Scientist. Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.
Published by infobae.com Sunday, November 25th, 2018
“The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author”.
Translated from Spanish by; Edgar L. Terrazas, member of the American Translators’ Association, ATA # 234680.