Taking a lesson from Venezuela

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IN Venezuela on Sunday – Monday afternoon for us here in the Philippines – a most remarkable national event occurred. The oil-rich country, which has struggled socially and economically for 16 years under the left-wing socialist government of first Hugo Chavez (who died in 2013) and then his hand-picked successor Nicolas Maduro, conducted elections for its National Assembly.

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To no one’s surprise, a coalition of opposition parties known as the Democratic Unity Roundtable – in Spanish, the party grouping has the odd acronym MUD – won a resounding victory over Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela. MUD took at least 99 seats in the 167-seat Assembly, against the socialists’ 46, with the final outcome of 22 others yet to be settled. Venezuelan voters, fed up with widespread shortages of basic goods, rampant crime, an antagonistic foreign policy that has turned Venezuela into a bit of a pariah, and persistently high unemployment and poverty rates in a country that is sitting atop the world’s largest petroleum reserves, made their feelings known loud and clear at the ballot box, as expected.

What was not expected, however, was that the Venezuelan election would turn out to be a model of democratic process. Under the Chavez-Maduro regime, which has until now adopted a “you’re either with us or against” style of leadership, opposition personalities have been harassed and even imprisoned on contrived charges. Demonstrators against the socialist government have been beaten and killed by police or the army, and previous elections blatantly rigged or otherwise rendered invalid by violence and controversy.

This election, in a surprising turn of events, was by all accounts conducted with a high level of fairness and efficiency, and once the overall outcome was confirmed by the country’s electoral authorities – a task that took mere hours, instead of days or weeks – President Maduro accepted defeat graciously. He told the nation in a televised address Sunday evening, “We have come with our morals and our ethics to recognize these adverse results, to accept them and to say to our Venezuela that the Constitution and democracy have triumphed.”

That there is a great lesson in all of this for our own ruling regime is obvious. Holding onto power by any means, fair or foul – perverting the laws, co-opting or bullying any opposition to silence them, and twisting the electoral process – is ultimately futile, because things will eventually reach a point where even underhanded means will no longer work, and those who would be dictators must submit to the judgment of the people if they have any hope of salvaging even a little of their authority. A nebulous, rhetorical concept like “socialist revolution” or “daang matuwid” offered as an ideology when all it really does is poorly disguise an absence of vision and an adulation of personality has a very short shelf life. When given a choice – which they must, sooner or later – the people will always make the decision that seems to them to be more practical: One based on whether or not they have food on the table, fairly rewarded work, and streets that are not clogged with immobile traffic, thugs and homeless families.

By accepting the inevitable with dignity, President Maduro may have just saved himself, and kept the chance to be relevant to his country and help shape its future. His is an example that we strongly suggest our own leaders take to heart and emulate.

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7 Comments

  1. No not for Pnoy he was into contract with his OLIGARCHS he should have do it for Mar so that they will remain relevant at all cost, now OLIGARCHS are dollar billionaires, with Mar they will become trillionaires.

    So, Pnoy has to do more studies to make it for Mar as promised.

  2. I think the house and the senate should pass a law that all elected officials and all government employee’s before starting on their jobs should take a PLEDGE/OATH THAT WHILE IN OFFICE THEY WILL ABSTAIN FROM CORRUPTION MALFEASANCE, AND ROBBERY OF THE PEOPLES MONIES.Punishable by reclusion perpetua if caught.

  3. It ain’t over yet. Maduro is still the president with extraordinary powers. Furthermore, he has Obummer’s and Popo Francesco’s support in his fight to achieve social justice.

    • Willie, what have you been smoking, dude? Maduro is not in good terms with the U.S.A. nor was the late dictator Chavez. The American people and government will be pretty ecstatic when Maduro is kicked out of office.

      Willie boy, you have no clue of what you’ve commented about.

  4. I dont know if you are alluding to the present administration? But according to the majority of sane filipinos by comparison to all previous administration this administration is the best we ever had. THE MOST HONEST THE PHILIPPINES HAS EVER HAVE. AT LEAST THE SEEDS OF HONESTY HAD BEEN PLANTED.

    • You can’t be serious.

      This Aquino Administration is the most corrupt government that the Philippines has ever had.

      The pork barrel scandal 121 senators and house of rep members give their pork barrel millions to Napoles fake companies in exchange for kickbacks and campaign funds.

      The Dap fund scandal, can you say unconstitutional ? Took the treasury and by passed congress to spend the money any way he felt like.

      Remember the $30-million extortion attempt on Czech railway firm Inekon Group by Metro Rail Transit (MRT) officials? Inekon’s top executive even submitted an affidavit to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) detailing how MRT general manager Al Vitangcol 3rd and his cohorts tried to shake them down.
      it was also revealed that Vitangcol awarded the MRT maintenance contract to a thinly-capitalized company partly owned by his uncle-in-law, PH Trams.
      —–
      There is also the highly questionable P1.2-billion purchase of 21 refurbished UH-1D military helicopters involving Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
      ——
      Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in the PNoy administration pocketed millions of pesos budgeted for the meal allowance of detainees and prisoners through a “double budget” scheme.
      P127 million every month (or P1.5 billion per year) in public funds that are being pocketed by corrupt BJMP officials
      ——
      Officials from Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) hired an “old, slow and bedbug-infested” passenger vessel named “FB Bridge” to ferry 766 stranded OFWs from Libya to Malta in August 2014 for $1.8 million despite being offered a faster ship for a much lesser price.
      Malta businessman Kevin Attard reportedly said that Virtu Ferries Ltd. – a Maltese-based operator of a fleet of high-speed passenger catamarans offered to rent out its vessel, HSC San Gwann, for the price of “Lumpsum Euros 345,000” (or approximately $490,000 )
      —–

      MRT maintenance scam
      Pork barrel fund scams
      Dap fund scams
      Typhoon Yolanda fund scam

      I could do this all day.

    • I was wondering what Conrado Alcantara been doing all this time. Have you not been reading newspapers, watching news on the television or listening to newscast on the radio? I wonder how did you come up with this conclusion that the current administration is the most honest? Wow, I think I need to visit my psychiatrist to get an advice with that. To check, if I am still normal or not?