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Quico says: It’s that time of year again, when we look back on the events of April 2002, and mourn the utter stupidity with which Pedro Carmona and the tiny clique surrounding him squandered the moral clarity of the popular movement that forced Chávez from power in the wee hours of April 12th.

It’s painful to look back. Even more painful when we realize that all the things we feared might happen if Chávez was allowed to consolidate himself in power have indeed come to pass.

Just before Carmona and Co. threw it all away by issuing their impossibly ill-considered decree, though, we heard Daniel Romero outline the motivations that had moved so many of us, civilian and military, to demand the end of the insanity Chávez was moving us toward. Looking back, what strikes you is how current the list of ills is:

Considering that Chávez and his government have contravened democratic values, principles and safeguards, particularly pertaining to representative democracy, by acting as though the state belonged to only one political party, whose leadership he has exercised in violation of article 145 of the Constitution of 1999 which bans public servants from serving any political faction….

Considering that Chávez and his government flagrantly violated the principle of the separation and independence of public powers enshrined in articles 136, 254, 273 and 294 of the Constitution, concentrating and usurping their powers, and necessitating the re-establishment of their separation and autonomy…

Considering that Chávez and his government, in violation of article 328 of the constitution, have sought to undermine the institutional and historic mission of the Armed Forces, its dignity and role in national development, by forcing it to carry out functions contrary to its nature and demanding loyalty to just one political faction and to a personal ideological project…

Considering that Chávez and his government have systematically undermined the human rights guaranteed in the constitution and in international treaties, to the point that never before have the Interamerican Human Rights organizations received so many complaints based on their violation, especially concerning the right to life, due process and freedom of expression…

Considering that Chávez and his government have enabled, from their high positions, incitement to commit crimes, by allowing all kinds of violations of private property, as well as obstructing the investigation and punishment of civilians and military men loyal to the regime who have committed acts of corruption…

Considering that Chávez and his government have irresponsibly promoted a climate of confrontation and social violence, contrary to national unity, democratic pluralism, and the respect of democratic principles and values…

Considering that Chávez and his government have instrumentalized the electoral authorities, in violation of article 294 of the constitution and of international treaties…

Considering that Chávez and his government have placed the civil service at the service of a political faction, in violation of article 141 of the constitution…

Each of these items was true then, and has gotten much truer since. The debasement of our institutions had not, in 2002, advanced nearly so far as it has today, but the direction of travel was obvious. It didn’t take some crack team of brainiacs to realize that, left to his own devices, Chávez would take the country down the increasingly authoritarian road he has since traveled.

Today, as we see fully armed paratroopers on parade shouting “patria, socialismo o muerte,” as we see the practice of forcing public sector workers to attend pro-Chávez rallies become routinized, as we see the Public Prosecutor’s office turned ever more impudently into an instrument of political repression, as we witness Chavista Supreme Tribunal magistrates being purged off the court in order to make room for even more ideologically steadfast magistrates, all we can do is hang our heads in despair and come to the worst of all possible realizations: Daniel Romero was right.

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