Quotable: Nelson Mandela on death


RIP, Madiba. Sleep well. You are loved and missed.

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1 Response to Quotable: Nelson Mandela on death

  1. Peter Lackowski says:

    Here is a comment on a biography of another great leader, also recently deceased.

    The Perfect Decision by José Vicente Rangel Monday December 2, 2013


    1) Ignacio Ramonet understands the Bolivarian process. He was close to Chávez. He spoke with him often, and he interviewed him various times. He was able to fully understand the dimensions of his leadership because the themes that they touched upon came from deep within him, from when the leader of [the unsuccessful coup of] February 4 [1992] was just a child.

    Back when he only aspired to be a baseball player. In order to understand this relationship one must read Ramonet’s book, Mi Primera Vida [My First (Early?) Life]: well documented, intimate, and also open to surprising revelations. The author describes his first meeting with Chávez to work on the book deep in the southwestern plains, without protocol, where he was waiting for the Comandante in order to avoid the human whirlwind that surrounded him whenever he arrived in a place. And then he got there–as the author describes it–in the middle of “oven-like heat,” in the dazzling landscape of the plains, in order to show him “the territory of his childhood and the roots of his destiny.” That is to say, as he confessed, the “scene of my upbringing.”

    2) But it is not about Chávez that I am writing today, even if he is always present. Because his absence is all around us, more than his presence. A strange phenomenon that explains the man, his charisma, the spell that emanated from him. Well, what should be mentioned? It is explained by this: Chávez combined intuition with rationality. It seemed that he improvised, but that was not the case.

    He first analyzed the circumstances that surrounded him, in detail, with an obsession for planning, as much in his discourse as in his action. In the most complex moments that he faced rationality took precedence in him over emotion, even when the latter is what he expressed. Each of his decisions obeyed a logic that mixed concrete analysis with the capacity to convert chance into a positive element to overcome demanding situations.

    3) The most difficult moment that he faced was when he decided on the succession. Who to choose, not only not only for the presidency but for the leadership of the most important political and social movement of Venezuela and Latin America. In the terrible circumstances in which he was acting, when death was closing in and he was struggling to conserve his lucidity, it was not easy to get it right. It was the final masterful play in a game in which life was slipping away from him, and the commitment to whatever he decided on in that audacious bet against the existing powers–the enemies who were always trying to bring him down–would be resolved in one single decision, without the possibility of control. And he made the decision transparently, with the courage that was so characteristic of him. He would not see the result. Only time would reveal it.

    4) Why did he choose Niclolás Maduro? What inspired the decision? It is hard to answer. It is written in the imponderables that only someone who demonstrated extraordinary understanding of the human being and of politics–which are ultimately the same thing–had the capacity to make it in that crucial moment. The developments that followed have confirmed that it was the right move.

    Surrounded by a battle-hardened team of collaborators, beloved comrades, who had gained their experience at his side, that he had formed with a pedagogic sense that continually applied a combination of theory and practice, he chose Maduro. Objectively.

    On the basis of instinct. He could have opted for Adán, Diosdado, Elías, Raphael or some others, and the decision has been respected by Chavism, given the influence and respect for his word. Something that came from his acute nose for politics and his understanding of reality explains, in part, the choice of his former foreign minister. The reason for the mandate that the leader of the revolution entrusted to Maduro.

    5) A tremendous responsibility; a colossal challenge for anyone. Because it was not some banal assignment that Cháves delivered to Maduro. But he know how to interpret the role. He assumed it with boldness and ability. Respecting its origin and adapting it to the new reality. Maduro has to have the right profile, without having to detach himself from where he comes from. From the teaching of the creator of a politics outside of traditional contexts.

    And he has succeeded. The results are to be seen in the 7 months of management, in the midst of dismal augeries. Without doubt the most complicated transition that has been handed over to anyone. Some were betting on the disloyalty of the heir; others on his presumed inability; others on the contrast with Chávez, hammered in sadistically; others on internal struggles, Nicolás vs. Diosdado. But none of them prospered. What happened confirms the correctness of the final decision of Chávez. Because, in the most adverse conditions for a human being and chief of state, light and reason prevailed. Decisions that are taken only by those who are able to see beyond the present and turn it into the future.

    The great achievement of choosing Maduro as the successor to Chávez joins the success of the choice with the demonstrated ability of the one chosen. Because it is nothing other than that. “Maduro has acquired a level of leadership that the opposition never imagined,” in the words of Ramonet, in his statement about the book that I mentioned. Clearly, what characterizes the Venezuelan opposition is that it lacks imagination. That is the reason for their repeated failures. And I would add that another of their characteristics is their contempt for their adversary. They always looked down upon Chávez; now they are doing the same thing with Maduro, which is to the benefit of the legitimate president of Venezuela

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