The Final Mask

Rangel SilvaIt’s an election season mainstay, a tradition almost. Ahead of every vote since the opposition’s catastrophically misguidedecision to cry “Fraud!” in 2004, government spokesmen go on the record to ponderously demand that the opposition pledge, ahead of time, to respect any result the National Elections Council may hand down. I guess this is meant to claim the moral high-ground for the government, and to remind folk of the nadir of the opposition at its psychotic worst: plainly unwilling, as it once was, to accept that most Venezuelans might disagree with it.

It’s the way the government has ritually repeated that demand over the last six years that makes General Henry Rangel Silva’s pledge to, in effect, stage a coup rather than accept an oppo victory in 2012 so richly perverse, and Chavez’s decision to reward the dictatorial little outburst with a promotion so perfect.

Because that an official in Rangel Silva’s position could pledge to basically piss all over the constitution he’s been pledged to uphold is alarming enough, but that the head of state would feel called on to make it perfectly clear that such full-throated contempt for the constitution is now State Policy is the true mark of a dictatorship.

It’s hard for me to make sense of this bizarre chain of events as anything other than a provocation: a final, desperate bid by Chavez and Co. to flush out any remaining unreliable elements in the armed forces. The statements involved are so plainly outrageous, so bizarrely outside any imaginably constitutional legitimacy or democratic normalcy, it’s clear they’re aimed at provoking a rash reaction for any remaining doubters in a position to make a rash reaction.

The sad thing is that it’s now, when the rhetoric of the revolution has plumbed the depths that Rangel Silva’s ditty has plumbed, it’s at this point that the opposition might actually be well advised to simply withdraw from participation in the warped institutions of this deeply fucked up state, might have good reason to declare that their participation in the charade can only possibly help the dictatorship endure, and might actually have a leg to stand on if they decided that clandestinity offers the only way forward for the democratically minded in Venezuela…but, of course, living under the shadow of its own blunders in 2002-2005, we can’t possibly do that.

Crazy, huh?

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