In the present landscape of oppression and freedom, two leaders stand out for their way of confronting a state they call an oppressor. Juan Guaidó, self-proclaimed president of the Venezuelan Republic, and Carles Puigdemont, self-proclaimed president of the "Catalan Republic" trying to separate Spain from the kingdom. We compare the actions and circumstances of both characters so that each one sheds light on the other.
An oppressive nation
Venezuela is qualified as an authoritarian regime in all democratic rankings, including the EIU Democracy Index of 2018.
Spain is qualified as Full Democracy in the EIU Democracy Index of 2018, above countries such as France or Belgium.
In Venezuela, clean elections have not been held for a long time, and those held are not recognized by the opposition. The Judges receive pressures and threats from the Maduro regime. The forces of order, the military and public institutions silence and persecute the opposition, even with violence. The demonstrations in favor of the uprising are sabotaged and repressed.
In Catalonia, three regional elections have been held in five years, all accepted by all parties, and in none has nationalism won in votes. The impartiality of the judges is such that they have caused the previous government of Spain to fall by denouncing their cases of corruption, which led to a motion of censure. However, in Catalonia, judges and prosecutors receive pressures and threats from the CDR (independent cells in favor of the uprising that have the express support of the current nationalist president of Catalonia). Journalists not related to the uprising are insulted and assaulted. The demonstrations against the uprising are sabotaged and repressed.
An oppressed people
Venezuelan citizens know the misery, and the shortage of food, with hyperinflation and extreme levels of poverty, which is accused of mismanagement of the Maduro regime.
Catalonia is one of the most prosperous regions of Spain, has one of the main European capitals and enjoys a per capita income above the national average. Despite being a fully bilingual region, the Catalan language (the second in number of speakers behind Spanish) is the language of imposition of the nationalist government. This is the main oppression suffered by the non-nationalist part of the Catalan people.
Partial and subsidized media
The Venezuelan public media are politicized against the uprising and in favor of the Venezuelan government.
The Catalan public media are politicized in favor of the uprising and against the government of Spain.
Forces behind the uprising
The Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela is the legislative organ of the Venezuelan government with members elected by the Venezuelan people. The Maduro regime has cornered it to create the ANC, the Asamblea Nacional Constituyente, which fully supports him.
In Catalonia there is also an ANC, the Assamblea Nacional Catalana. As the Venezuelan, ANC is a constituent institution detached from the government, with members not elected by the Catalan people, but generously subsidized by the nationalist government and in charge of the mobilization of nationalism.
Maduro was democratically elected after being "chosen by finger" by Hugo Chaves, but was consolidated in power through a unilateral referendum ("la constituyente") rejected by the opposition and by international organizations. Guaidó was democratically elected president of the Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela, annulled by Maduro. Guaidó denies the legitimacy of "La Constituyente" and demands clean elections. When he does not obtain them, he rises against Maduro, goes down to the streets and proclaims himself "president in charge" of the Venezuelan Republic, until the celebration of fair elections.
Artur Mas was democratically elected, but without a sufficient majority, so to overcome the veto of a small party of the far left, he "choose at finger" Carles Puigdemont. He raises the secession of Catalonia in a unilateral referendum ("1 d'Octubre") rejected by all the opposition and by all international organizations consulted. Days later, Puigdemont rejected the offer of the government of Spain to call democratic elections, reaffirms the legitimacy of "1 d'Octubre" and proclaimed president of the Catalan Republic.
After the proclamation
Juan Guaidó decides to stay in Venezuela, hiding in flats whose location is secret. Despite the immediate persecution of Maduro's government, he occasionally goes out into to the streets to make statements and gives interviews to foreign media, with great risk to his safety.
Carles Puigdemont launches his escape plan, warns a few of his relatives and moves to Gerona, where he walks among his faithful. From the government of Spain its proclamation is stopped by article 155 of the constitution and free and democratic elections are called, and from the government Puigdemont is invited to appear. Instead, Puigdemont and his relatives flee from Spain. Puigdemont settles in Waterloo, in a luxurious villa of 500 m2 and 1000 m2 of garden that costs 4400 € per month.
The life of the fugitive
The Maduro regime immediately blocks Guairó's accounts, leaving him without financial resources. Disabled from all charges, he is hiding.
Puigdemont, being fled, continues to receive from Spain his salary as President, almost double that the one of the president of Spain himself. Despite having been initiated a judicial process for the uprising, he continues collecting his salary as a representative of the Spanish state in Catalonia for months, and is allowed to stand for the next democratic elections.
Family at risk
The family of Guaidó is watched over by the Maduro regime. His wife is, like him, hidden. The Ibero-American Human Rights Committee calls for security for Juan Guaidó's family. They fear reprisals.
The family of Puigdemont lives normally. Puigdemont's wife is still in Catalonia, where she has been hired by the nationalist television and charges € 6000 a month for presenting a weekly program that she records at a local in Barcelona. As in any democratic country, nobody will persecute her for the crimes of her husband.
In a matter of days, the presidency of Guaidó has been recognized by many Ibero-American countries, by the government of the United States and its recognition by several European countries is imminent.
More than a year after the attempted coup, the presidency of Puigdemont has not yet been recognized by any government or organization in the world. The only world leader who has shown his sympathy for the cause (and has been photographed with a starred flag) has been Nicolás Maduro.