I never thought I’d get to say this, but Venezuela is worse than Cuba. It is true that the South American country has not surpassed in number nor in intensity the shortages of basic products, the economic collapse, nor the police surveillance that we suffer – but Venezuela is worse than Cuba. Its seriousness reflects its repeating of the failed past that we Cubans are trying to escape.
In the case of both nations, the fiasco has been determined largely by improper and harmful leadership. Cuba, with a Fidel Castro who tried to mold the country in his image and likeness, taking on his marked tendency to authoritarianism, intolerance, obsession for power and the leader’s inability to deal with others’ success. To which must be added a paranoia so fierce it made him distrust his own shadow, which he seems to have transmitted to his disciple Nicolas Maduro.
So when I heard about the arrest of the opposition mayor Antonio Ledezma, accused of a supposed link with violent acts against the government, I couldn’t help but remember all the times that the fears of our “Maximum Leader” ended the professional, political and even the physical life of some Cuban. How many times did they justify a turn of the political screw under the pretext of an attempt against the Commander and Chief? Which of these assassinations were invented by the official propaganda itself, just to divert attention from other issues?
The scheme of “here comes the wolf” is already so hackneyed that it would be laughable if it weren’t for the dire implications for the people. Maduro theatrically – and before the cameras – plays the role of victim about to succumb to an international conspiracy. The seams of the farce are clear to see, but he is still dangerous. He believes he embodies the nation, so he denounces the plots and machinations to kill him, trying to obtain the benefits of a nationalism and trashy as it is fleeting.
His presidency has been a sequence of supposed coups, conspiracies that develop outside the borders, and enemies who are trying to destabilize the country
Chavez’ successor does not know how to deal with the normal, nor how to lead in a balanced way, nor how to offer Venezuelans a national project where everyone is included. Such that he can only fall back on fear. His presidency has been a sequence of supposed coups, conspiracies that develop outside the borders, and enemies who are trying to destabilize the country. He doesn’t know any method of leadership other than perennial tension.
Ledezma is the latest victim of this political paranoia. Leopoldo Lopez just completed a year in prison and in the coming months is very likely to be joined by other opponents added to the list of the arrested and prosecuted. Nicolas Maduro will again denounce plots against him, pointing out those presumed guilty of some attempt and directing the accusing finger at the White House.
All this to hide that he doesn’t know how to govern and can only imitate the dismal model he’s inherited from his mentors of the Plaza of the Revolution. The result is a bad copy of the Cuban model, a crude replica in which ideology has ceded its entire terrain to the ravings of a man.
Yoani Sánchez is a Cuban journalist and activist. She was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people (2008). She lives and publishes in Havana, but because of government restrictions on the media her blog cannot be viewed there. Read more by Yoani.