Autocracy is bad

venezuela
Picture thanks to Brookings Institute

I get that autocracy is bad. Absolute power always leads to absolute corruption and someone can only gain absolute authority through some form of coup or acts of violence. Autocracy and democracy are clearly incompatible.

I am also a long way away from Venezuela yet from my vantage point it looks like President Nicolás Maduro is clinging to power and is becoming, if he is not already there, an autocrat. On January 23 this year, Juan Guaidó, the leader of the legislature and political opponent to Maduro, declared himself acting president and said he would assume the powers of the executive branch.

The country is deep in crisis.

Most of the media is leaving us in no doubt that Maduro is the evil tyrant and Guaidó the knight who is riding in on a white steed to save the oppressed and starving masses. In all honesty I have no idea if this is true or not. I am not there, I am not steeped in the country’s history and do not have a balanced view.

I am suspicious however.

Replacing an elected president, however bad that election may seem to have been, with an unelected one seems at odds with the Prime Minister of the UK’s decision, intended to bring about free and democratic elections as soon as possible. Fresh elections will allow the Venezuelan people to use their voice and their vote to decide their own future without fear, threats or pressure.

Her statement is not without irony. Clearly democracy is a moveable feast.

There are many other countries going through similar problems. South Sudan springs to mind, to name just one, yet I don’t see the widespread appetite to resolve this issue. The clamour over Venezuela is, of course, more to do with its proximity to the US and its oil.

Autocracy is bad wherever it takes place in the world yet we are happy to trade with some awful regimes yet get uptight about others. To be inconsistent is to be human and these issues are highly complex but a bit of honesty in the portrayal of the varying political nuances would help. I am not falling for the spin.

I wish the troubled peoples of the world a better future yet remain unconvinced that interfering in another sovereign country’s affairs is ever a good thing.

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