Lunes, 30 de Marzo de 2020
Última actualización: 16:47 CET

A double standard

Within the framework of the Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), a group of Cuban academics and former officials recently circulated a document protesting the LASA'S position regarding the wave of repression and political crisis in Venezuela.

In their missive they questioned the presence of OAS Secretary Luis Almagro at the event, while equating criticisms of the Government and opposition, placing them on the same level, while accusing the latter of purportedly undemocratic stratagems.

The list of signatories includes well-known members of the Cuban political apparatus, intellectuals with proven analytical skills and access to information, as well as people from the artistic sphere and para-State NGOs. That is: people who know this initiative very well, and how much truth there is supporting it, and its scope; along with others who, politics not being their regular terrain, signed it without a thorough understanding of the realities involved.

I wonder if they would be as willing to take up positions affecting domestic culture and social sciences today as they were to do so in relation to what is a foreign scenario. Will those who question the actions of foreign political actors do the same at home? And I do not mean in order to, necessarily, denounce the Cuban political system. Rather, just to utter, even from a revolutionary stance, so much as a collective whisper in response to the censorship to which filmmakers are subjected, or the arrest of young journalists, or the expulsion of professors and students from universities, all events having occurred in recent times. Aren't these issues —which directly affect intellectual life on the Island— of concern to the signatories? How can they be concerned about the rule of law in Caracas, but not its infringement in Havana?

It is comforting to know that the signatories call for "compliance with the current constitutional order" in Venezuela. But it is inexcusable that this appeal has only come now; curiously, coinciding with the escalation of violence in Venezuela, and the country's desertion of the OAS. In view of the fact that several backers of the letter attended LASA panels where Venezuelan experts explained the processes in their country —debunking with hard facts fallacious interpretations such as those advanced in the document— they cannot claim that they were not aware. They were there, they heard, and they bit their lips.

Venezuela is going through a historic period, during which most of its people - according to all the pollsters, including those close to the Government - want a change. And they want it via the electoral route, peacefully. But the Government, flouting what was established in the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution (yes, that supported by Chávez) is blocking regional elections and the recall referendum; and trampling on the National Assembly, elected by a majority of the electorate, including voters from humble areas. And when people go out to demand their rights, they are being treated like criminals, a fact acknowledged even by the Prosecutor General of the Republic, whose sympathies with the national Government are common knowledge.

Those who add —whether fully aware of the implications, or because they just want to avoid problems, peremptorily— their signatures to initiatives like this are bolstering the irresponsible and dishonest arguments advanced by the Government of Nicolás Maduro, the main culprit responsible for the Venezuelan crisis. Because there is a big difference between exercising one's right to speak out freely as a public intellectual, and serving as a pawn for a State-backed scheme. Or, as my grandmother used to say, some are guilty of a double standard: being generous towards strangers, and begrudging towards their own.



This article originally appeared in the Mexican newspaper La Razón. It is published and translated here with the author's permission.