Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti
On Wednesday November 17 2010, I had the bitter experience of having to listen, face to face, to the caustic rhetoric of the Republican extreme right, which, feeling drunk with power, prepares to change the course of the foreign policy of the country. It was one of those experiences that leaves a human being with a conscience with the bitter taste of frustration in the face of an abuse of power. I don’t even need to repeat verbatim the outrageous things that were said, for it was the same old Republican discourse, directed to its own audience. Only they can believe their twisted interpretations of reality, with which they intend to demonize anew the progressive governments of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia.
The Honorable Representative Connie Mack, overflowing with confidence, said that the first thing they intend to do when they take control of the Committee on Foreign Relations is to “take on Chavez” and put him on the list of chiefs of state who protect terrorists. I was not able to ask him whether on his list he would include the Republican politicians who protect the terrorists of the extreme right like Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch. The possibilities of my posing questions ran out after my first and last opportunity to do so.
Dr. Guillermo Zuloaga, of Globovision, spoke at length about Chavez’ abuses of him and of the freedom of the press. Javier El Hage, from the Human Rights Foundation, demonized the same three progressive governments on the basis of supposed violations of human rights. Luis Nunez, the president of the Committee for Santa Cruz, gave free reins to his rhetoric of victimization by the government of President Evo Morales. He did so by “presenting proof” that the separatist and terrorist subversive plan to divide Bolivia and kill president Morales was faked by the government in order to accuse the leaders of the Committee for Santa Cruz, including Branko Marinkovic and Guido Nayar.
When questions and answers were taken from the public, I said that we had heard one version of the story, and one interpretation of reality, that were totally tilted to the Right; and that, taking into account that there was not present a voice that represented the people, I wanted to know whether I might be allowed to pose three questions to the different panelists. The idea was resisted, but due to the pressure of the cameras I was permitted to do it.
My first question was for Guillermo Zuloaga. Given his complaints against President Chavez of political harassment and for the simple reason of his being “the press”, I asked him whether or not it was true that his press, being private, took part in politics to the point of totally distorting reality. His surprising response was that he did not participate in politics, that it was the politicians who used his means of communications, and that if they were not able to provide equal space to the Left, it was because Chavez had declared them enemies of the Revolution.
I asked Mr. El Hage how he could redefine the reality of human rights in Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador, while skipping over Colombia, a country in which many of the atrocities that had taken place were committed by the government. He answered that one point they had criticized the government of Uribe for two statements in which it attributed to the guerrillas all of the violations of human rights. Perhaps we never knew that, I thought, and would never know, because the press that they call free in reality chooses carefully what it decides to turn into news.
Mr. Luis Nunez, of the Committee for Santa Cruz, had just recently denied totally any participation by his institution in the plan to divide Bolivia and kill president Morales. I asked him, therefore, how he could deny such participation, typical of the Right, when it is well known in Bolivia that all of the presidents of the Committee for Santa Cruz, when they conclude their mandates and move on to the national political arena, do so in the parties of the Right, even those linked to dictatorial regimes. The answer was confused, perhaps because the translation of my question was not good, or because he did not connect the question with the denial he had made just minutes before. He said that one could not negotiate with the government, because things there are done the way that Evo wants.
During the second panel, on terrorism, the panelists demonized Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador as anti-American, and described the end of the World to come at the hands of those three countries with nuclear arms built with the support of Iran. Obviously, I was not allowed to formulate any more questions because Jose Cardenas, the moderator of the first panel, had passed on information about me to Otto Reich, the moderator of the second. Another Bolivian, a friend named Winston Fernandez, asked candidly whether they would deport former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada as a way to draw closer to President Morales, considering that both governments were about to re-establish diplomatic relations. Roger Noriega answered, saying that they had no interest in re-establishing relations with a government that supported terrorism. He added that Engineer Sanchez de Lozada was a friend, a decent man who had no possibility whatever of a fair trial in a country in which Morales controlled all the powers of government.
What I was not able to correct, concerning their twisted interpretations of reality, is that none of the three countries accused is really anti-American. They are simply anti-imperialist, and regarding the United States that means only a peaceful resistance to the abusive policies of the Republican administrations that have caused so much harm to Latin America: first with the massacres under the dictatorships, and later with its disastrous economic policies that resulted only in plundering and impoverishment.
Without a doubt, the event was the official start of the demonization process with which the Republicans always justify their interventions. I believe, therefore, that all of Latin America, and President Barack Obama, should at this time pay attention to the serious threats made that day at the Capitol. The United States is much more than the Republican extremists; at least, that is still the hope of mankind.