“We are at war.” Those words warranted a torrent of censure and criticism of the Chilean president, because of their insensitivity to popular protest. But Sebastian Piñera is right. Not, of course, that he is at war with the people who protested, but that he opposes those who encouraged violence leading to the systematic destruction of public infrastructure and private property. Diosdado Cabello* added his support: What Chile and Ecuador have experienced is a “Bolivarian breeze …. The hurricane will come,” he said.
According to the secretary general of the Organization of American States, “The true currents of destabilization of political systems in the continent have their origin in the strategy of the Bolivarian and Cuban dictatorships: [to] finance, support and promote political and social conflict.”
The world began this century with democracy and dictatorship at war. A new type of dictatorship has emerged, which maintains formalities of representative democracy, but in which there is no separation of powers; there are rigged elections; and those who resist are repressed. In Latin America, these dictatorships claim to be Marxist left. In Eastern Europe, in which Marxism is discredited, they identify themselves as nationalist right. But what differentiates one from another is pure rhetoric.
For totalitarians, respect for human rights is evidence of the weakness of democracies. The Venezuelan regime has no empathy when it acknowledges that in 2018, 7,523 people were killed “for resisting authority.” Instead, regional dictatorships can send commandos to Ecuador, Chile or another country, where they can commit outrages with impunity: In case of arrest, report violation of your rights.
Another tool of authoritarian countries is the propagation of false information. Russia affected the results of the presidential election in the United States, focusing the spread of misinformation in states where the presidential campaign was close. That would serve to tip the balance in favor of Donald Trump, despite his loss of the popular vote. Vladimir Putin was right that he could manipulate the gross and self-sufficient real estate mogul and thus achieve geopolitical victories. The most recent: Washington’s loss of influence in the Syrian conflict and the abandonment of Kurdish allies to their fate.
In Ecuador, legions of “trolls,” financed by regional dictatorships, flood social networks with fabrications aimed at destabilizing the financial system and the government. Could Twitter have imagined that it would be a tool for dictatorships to destabilize democracies?
The dictatorships and their local allies declared war on the democratic Ecuadorian government and civil society, whose rights are in danger. You have to defend yourself, as you would defend yourself in war—without being overwhelmed.
*Translator’s note: Venezuelan Bolivarian, Diosdado Cabello, played a key role in Hugo Chavez’ return to power and is supportive of Nicolás Maduro.