An Affective Picture of Chavismo Part XIII: Besieged Fortress

Reinaldo Iturriza

You are inside a fortress that is being besieged. As befits you, you are defending it with all your might. In the middle of combat you see some people inside the fortress who, instead of defending it, and while claiming to defend it, are looting it. Are you a traitor if you reproach looters? Or are you a traitor if you keep silent?

No one in his right mind will choose silence. Unless, of course, it is the looters or their accomplices. But even in such a case, the impostor is liable to play the role of the street pickpocket who, in order to mislead unsuspecting passers-by, begins to shout: “To the thief, to the thief!

Silence thus borders on deception. For those of us who defend the fortress, silence is simply not an option. The question is how to break it.

All too often we are faced with another false dilemma: economic war or corruption. Certainly, there has been such an abuse of the expression economic war that for some time now its mere mention usually generates an immediate rejection. The problem with the expression is that it supposes what has to be explained: one cannot dispense so lightly with mediations that allows us to understand how it manifests itself, what its effects are, how the forces involved operate. As in any war, there are tactical and strategic considerations.

In addition, of course, it is necessary to explain what is being done to deal with the aggression. We hear comments like this very frequently: in war you shoot from side to side, but in this case the shots are only being fired at us.

It becomes more complicated when the expression is used by characters who are not, in any way, ethical references of Chavism. Thus, economic warfare sounds like a pure pretext, a smokescreen for, in the worst case, turning weapons against the very people who they claim to defend, or to disguise what is popularly perceived as the most complete absence of counteroffensive actions. As if economic war were a fatality, something we have to resign ourselves to, while someone else assists us and helps us heal our wounds.

It is truly a mystery why some people find it so difficult to understand that for a political subject like Chavismo war without an epic is inconceivable, namely a war in which the working classes are reduced to the role of victims to be protected. Nothing could be further from the character of Chavismo, which, naturally, has been constructing its own account of the war, not only because it suffers its bloody effects, but also because it is not willing to remain passive.

War is real, of course, and it is not only expressed in the economic field. The problem, to a large extent, is the profound limitations of the official discourse about the war. It is these limitations, added to the popular disorientation that is characteristic of situations of this nature, that explain the false dilemma: economic war or corruption.

If public services collapse, one of the objectives of the hybrid war against Venezuela, the matter cannot be dismissed attributing the fact to the economic war, as if it were a magical expression endowed with omniexplicative powers. Since public services also collapse because there are corrupt officials who are gambling on the collapse, because the situation allows them to profit. In the same way, there are elements within the institutions that welcome privatization, and the corrupt civil service in fact acts like a beachhead, creating the conditions to eventually achieve that goal.

Who does this situation serve? The corrupted official is profiting, as are the privatization elements. But the main beneficiary is the one who maintains the siege against the fortress. There is someone else doing the legwork for him, someone else is wreaking havoc behind enemy lines in our territory.

There is no dilemma: economic war or corruption. With no attempt whatsoever to escape responsibility, it is rigorously true that corruption is an expression of the cultural degradation induced by those who wage war against us. And it is not a new phenomenon: it has been happening since the Conquest. They degrade by conquering and dominating the population, corrupting their leaders and institutions. The problem is not moral, but fundamentally political. Those who besiege us celebrate their partial victories when they see us presenting these false dilemmas, and feeling miserable because of our level of degradation.

Breaking the silence is the most expeditious way to stop this process of degradation. And the best way to do this is to act without contemplation against those who plunder the fortress, often in plain sight, trafficking in food or medicine in the middle of the street, smuggling, demanding undue payments in money or in kind from producers on the roads, often on the margins of public scrutiny, signing agreements with elements of the parasitic bourgeoisie, granting those who already have an advantage over us all the concessions so that they can continue to plunder us.

It can rightly be argued that widespread accusation without evidence is as unacceptable as it is counterproductive, and that it is itself an expression of the degradation we wish to avert. But when so much evidence is so obvious, it is treason not to act. To not act is like opening the doors of the fortress while claiming to defend it, betraying a people willing to fight.