Many Chavistas are disconsolate tonight. They fervently believed in a pack of lies, so densely interwoven by a ruthless demagogue that they could not be disentangled from each other, or from the very body of that demagogue. One of the chief lies they believed in was the invulnerability of their Caudillo, the strong man Hugo Chavez. Repeatedly, they received assurances that he was on his way back to the throne. In essence, they turned a mere mortal into a demigod, or, as Nicolas Maduro called him today, a redeemer.
And they also believed in the biggest lie of all: that socialism can really bring about prosperity and social justice.
But death has robbed them of their illusions. Desengaño. Disillusionment is theirs tonight. The redeemer is dead, and they weep and wail, and gnash their teeth. And when they awake tomorrow they should begin to face the awful fact that his promises and policies have ruined their nation. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, these mourners are more likely to divinize their dead man and keep their faith in his lies than to face up to their delusions. They are to be pitied, for sure. But they should also be feared.
For many of us Cubans who still can’t understand how our nation was hijacked by a charismatic sociopath who was genuinely beloved by many–and still is — the brief reign of King Hugo offers us a painful mirror image, a lesson in the irrationality of the human race in general and of the peculiar irrationality of Hispanic cultures in particular, including that of the bankrupt Motherland, Spain.
Those who love Chavez — whether in Venezuela, or elsewhere — need to be understood in order to be overcome. That’s quite a challenge, perhaps too great a challenge. Understanding a faith system that is founded on envy, hate, and intolerance, as well as on unrealistic utopian fantasies takes a great leap of the imagination for those who aren’t similarly obsessed. But we need to try, and we need above all to acknowledge the seductive power of the basest human inclinations, especially among those who have little else to hope for and among self-righteous intellectuals.
Hugos, Fidels, Rauls, Ches, Evos, and Obamas have never been in short supply, and, from the looks of it right now, such men are gaining the upper hand. We need to outsmart them, somehow, and also to overpower them, much as one would do with any thug. Their chief weapon is the Big Lie. Their patron is the Father of Lies, who is also known by many other names. Exposing the lies and the liars, and ensuring that the exposing never stops is essential.
In the meantime, right now, death has done the world a favor by ridding it of one of its worst Liars. Unfortunately, waiting for the grim reaper to carry off the lying despots is not a good strategy at all. But the mere fact that no man lives forever, at times like this, can sure be comforting.
Shakespeare summed it all up very nicely:
For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings…
for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
( Richard II, 3.2.1565-1580)