Almost at the same time on the last day of June, Brazil and Venezuela blocked the political career of two prominent opposition leaders. Jair Bolsonaro, the illiberal and far-right ex-president who preceded the current government of Lula da Silva, was disqualified for eight years from holding public office. It means that he will not be able to run in the 2026 presidential elections or the 2024 and 2028 municipal elections.
The Venezuelan regime, in turn, on the same day, banned dissident leader Maria Corina Machado for 15 years favorite to lead the opposition bloc in the 2024 general elections with significant chances of damaging the new perpetuating attempt of the autocrat Nicolas Maduro.
Jorge Luis Borges observed with a certain irony or resignation that history loves symmetries, but the coincidence of these events is only temporary. The enormous difference is that in the Brazilian case justice acted, with a regulated procedure and with the benefits corresponding to each side, in addition to the evidence.
In Chavista Venezuela, on the other hand, the same path of its allies of the civic-military dictatorship of Nicaragua was followed, which outlawed the entire opposition colony without cause to guarantee control of power. Corina Machado was banned for political reasons, never explained, but explicit enough. A measure, that of Brazil, soundly legal. The other, despotic.
This story of two cities and two temperaments is interesting because it exposes the contradictions and immaturities that still tr the region to the point of contaminating one with the other. Lula da Silva, who has celebrated the reason of law in the case of Bolsonaro, has placed himself contradictory and firmly on Maduro’s side.
He has remained silent about the Machado episode and considered the Bolivarian leader a democrat, whom he elevated to the same level as the rest of the region’s leaders. At the presidential summit in Brasilia last May described the allegations of res as mere narratives that the Venezuelan regime commits despite the evidence of a multitude of political prisoners and clandestine jails in the vast Venezuelan night.
Lately, he exaggerated one more degree when he maintained that, those who question the suspicious 2018 re-election of the Chavista strongman watered by other proscriptions of dissent, they are equated to the Bolsonaristas who attempted the coup on January 8 in Brasilia.
“Didn’t we have a citizen here who did not want to accept the electoral result? Didn’t we have a little citizen here who wanted to carry out a coup on January 8? There are people who do not want to accept the result of the elections”, Lula said negligently entangling Bolsonaro with Venezuelan dissent.
There is a difficult dialectical scaffolding that pears in this construction. Lula has denounced with some reason that the process of alleged corruption against him that was carried out by the then judge of Curitiba, Sergio Moro, later awarded a ministry in the Bolsonaro government, was carried out to prevent his presentation in the October 2018 elections.
That he possibly would have won, say his supporters, even on the rubble of an economy destroyed by his dauphin Dilma Rousseff. In order of those comparisons, it would be propriate to suspect that Maduro is doing the same with Machadoalthough without the legal ritual that Moro exhibited, later revoked in its entirety by the Supreme Court.
The fact that the defiant Venezuelan leader stands on a clearly liberal path would be embarrassing as a pretext of an inconvenient silence. Also if it is an embrace of a superficial and resounding leftism with the purpose of turning off the internal noise due to the adjustments that his government is inevitably carrying out to balance the budget figures.
It is not known, either, if this behavior comes from an ideological commitment or from the fervor to differentiate itself from the Bolsonarist repudiation of the chavista scarecrow. PT sources explained that the president’s warm statements about the controversial Venezuelan leader were partly misinterpreted.
In truth, they said, they implied a gesture of solidarity of a very high level in exchange for a return from the Bolivarian to the same heights in the sense of contributing to democratize your country and put it back on track institutionally.
Maduro does not seem to have understood the wink, let alone the strategy. Immediately after receiving those hugs in Brasilia struck down the National Electoral Council that regulates the elections, overthrowing the opposition rectors and handed over the organization to his wife, the powerful Cilia Flores.
Just shortly after this maneuver, illegal even for the weak Chavista legal framework, he banned the main dissident leader, thereby eliminated all possibility of free elections in Venezuela.
Lula does not pay attention to this defect. What’s more, she has ignored her collaborators and friends who consistently advise her to avoid everything related to the complex Caribbean country for the sake of political attrition that it entails, as sources from the Brazilian government acknowledge to this column.
On the contrary, it deepens the dilemma with surprising reflection. He has said that considers the concept of democracy “relative”. Building a difficult analogy, he affirms that his arrest and removal from the elections harmed Brazilian democracy and reproaches that those who criticize him now for his positions on Venezuela were not there to defend him then.
He grudge for that prison seems to invade everything. What the Brazilian leader does not realize is that legitimacy comes from fundamental values. They are not relative nor can they be reduced to an pearance -as Chavismo does- because there is a risk of ending up submitting reason to the immediate and to opportunism.
All in all, if there was that institutionalizing intention on the part of Lula regardless of Maduro’s disdain, it would give meaning to Corina Machado’s announcement, expressed in a recent interview in Clarion. There he said that he does not rule out calling on the Brazilian president, among other allies of Hugo Chavez’s heir, to help fulfill this proclaimed mission of seek guarantees of transparency in the electoral process.
That is to say, do everything possible so that Maduro does not become a tropical moor, as a diplomat with enormous experience in Brazil pointed out to this chronicler. The support sought by the dissident leader is urgent because she has just warned that will not accept the ban and will continue to campaign. Thus, he exposes the importance of defending his democratic rights and forces the defenders of the Chavista experiment to take charge.
Populism should be a thorn in the side of leadership at this stage. As the Chilean Gabriel Boric repeats, the alibi of the left should not be used as a cover for violations of human rights and institutions, the mark on the forehead of the Maduro regime.
An indicator of the weight it will have in the immediate future, this serious political so opera has just infiltrate at the recent Mercosur summit in which Argentina handed over the protempore presidency of the faded body to the Brazilian leader. At the meeting, the Machado question, which was not on the agenda, became that type of signal that warns about what is missing or what is expected.
Lula, barely accompanied in the struggle by the gangly Argentine president, sought to clarify that “we do not hide the problems of Venezuela”, but took refuge in the fact that he does not know the details about the serious setback created to the banned opposition leader.
Words that described more discomfort in the face of a challenge that worsened (“we cannot take into account the failures of one and not the other”, he compared again) than the argumentative precariousness of the absence of information.
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