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This Hour Governs

Alexander Cambero, El Universal, December 3, 2008

Opposition supporters anxiously watch news reports before defeating a referendum on changes to the Constitution proposed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela. (Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

Hugo Chavez has been campaigning for a decade now. It intoxicates him to be the center of debate, to command the followers of the Bolivarian Revolution in this country. Much of his time is spent between mass rallies and his many trips abroad, where he assumes the role as the defining figure of so-called 21st century socialism.

Amid the frenetic fervor of the harangue and the roaring motor of the presidential airplane, millions of dollars have gone up in smoke, in this tragedy that has fallen on this decade like an existential epidemic. Perhaps we should pray that God curb his tongue, or put some intelligent ideas into his brain. We are co-heirs of a tragedy that has enmeshed the fate of the nation. Ten years ago Venezuelans, racked by the terrible experience of inept rule, put their fate in the hands of the man of the 4th of February.

It was the revenge of the citizens against the established political parties. Some in civil society demonized the partisan organization supporting his emergence. Now he has gone back to being a candidate. In this election he endorsed more than twenty candidates for governor and three hundred mayors. He took the electoral temperature across the nation. With his proverbial style, he used his leadership skills to push his ideology. It can be said that he achieved successes in Barinas, Sucre, Merida, Aragua, and Guárico; states where he was losing in the last weeks and which could be turned around. Nevertheless, he lost in places that have an enormous symbolic meaning in Venezuela. Thus his victory was bittersweet.

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It is the hour that governs now. Million of dollars have been eaten up by the insatiable greed of a train of incompetents who have ransacked the wealth of all Venezuelans. We know Hugo Chavez does not characterize himself as a shining statesman. Nevertheless, if he has some measure of sanity left he should seek out capable advisers to organize the management of the government.

What lessons can be learned in the gaps that he has left? That it’s good to waste time in fly-by-night personal projects, without any common benefit? Venezuelans chose him to carry out a specific function. It is not the duty of a head of state to be a permanent candidate. On the contrary, the holder of this post needs to understand that he governs for the benefit of all. He is the chief executive of a nation, not an overseer on his own private estate.

His mandate has expired. He should have dedicated himself these last years to a smaller task than he did.

In spite of what he says, his administration’s days are numbered. Thank God!

Translation by Tim Neeno

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