Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Venezuelan Threat to Whom?

Nicolas Maduro: Hapless leader
or threat to Washington?
“I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the situation in Venezuela....constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat." 

Give us a break. Venezuela is near being a failed state. It's economy's going down the tubes, its government's turning increasingly corrupt, authoritarian and repressive, and Venezuelans' lives are becoming tougher and tougher.

Venezuela is a threat...to Venezuelans and probably to Colombians and other neighbors. But an 'extraordinary threat' to the U.S.'s national security and foreign policy?

Venezuela was perhaps once a threat to U.S. foreign policy - back when Chavez was alive and admired, and when high oil prices gave Caracas a full wallet to buy and influence foreign heads of state. But today Venezuela is widely seen as the basket case it is and has been reduced to begging support from its few allies. Caracas is in no position to rally anybody against the U.S. Even Venezuela's long-time ally Cuba has pivoted toward Washington.

Venezuela's worst-case - and increasingly likely - scenario is a larger scale repeat of its its 1989 Caracazo social explosion, when riots led to thousands of deaths. The difference is that today the economy is even more distorted and the country even harder up than back then, so things might be even worse, and Venezuela could emerge from the crisis as a full-fledged dictatorship.

But that dictatorship scenario is a threat to Venezuelans rather than to the U.S. As many will recall, Washington got along just fine with dictators and strongmen in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru - not to mention China and Washington's blooming friendship with communist Cuba. Or maybe I missed Washington's crack-down on Saudi Arabia for being a dictatorship, not permitting free speech or religious practice, and furiously repressing women, dissidents and religious minorities.

And, the Washington officials who denounce Venezuela should keep in mind that they are financing the behavior of Caracas, which still sells most of its oil to the U.S.

The Caracas Chronicles blog speculates that Venezuela could emerge as a base for Islamic terrorism - which is an absurd, wild-eyed scenario for a highly-Catholic nation still dependent on U.S. Or turn into a narco-state. But the U.S. has long co-existed with state-tolerated drug trafficking, and will continue losing the War on Drugs until it abandons failed prohibitionist policies.

On the other hand, Obama's declaration plays right into Venezuelan Pres. Nicolas Maduro's rantings about the U.S. conspiring to invade and overthrow him. After all, declaring a nation an 'extraordinary threat' sounds like a great justification for invasion.

Venezuelan Pres. Maduro didn't hesitate to exploit the new diplomatic crisis, which he called "the most aggressive, unjust and harmful blow against Venezuela." Maduro announced that he would introduce an enabling law into the National Assembly giving himself additional powers to deal with the situation. Those familiar with Venezuelan politics tknow that means more quasi-dictatorial powers for Maduro.

Disturbingly, Venezuela's Ambassador to the Organization of American States said during a television interview that a sharpshooter's bullet makes a different noise when passing thru the skull of a government opponent, because "the sound is much less, like a crack, because the cranium is hollow and the bullet passes thru rapidly."

A comforting comment for opponents in a supposedly democratic nation.


By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

13 comments:

The BarkerLetter said...

... some woolly logic there Mikey boy

Miguel said...

Thx, but can you elaborate? Mike

The BarkerLetter said...

http://barkerletter.com/venezuela.html

Dan K said...

The wording in regards to Venezuela being a "threat" may have been a bit much. However, the country has been spending a lot of money on rather advanced Russian and Chinese weapon systems and planes. Furthermore, the possibility of Venezuela lending direct support to groups like Hezbollah, isn't exactly out of the picture. If this proliferation of military grade weapons systems is primarily in response to made up claims of US interference, then why can't the US perceive this as being a threat? I mean have you paid any attention to the kind of drivel that Maduro espouses on a regular basis? Furthermore, I fail to see how US policy that domestically sanctions a handful individuals, is "imperialism" or "interference."

Sorry, but Venezuela, along with their other friends in Latin America, have played the imperialism card to death. Unfortunately, this issue is going to be used by Venezuela and other Latin American countries as on opportunity to deflect their failed policies onto the back of the US. These countries have stood by while Venezuela has flushed their democratic principles down the toilet. But now that the US has enacted a few basically meaningless sanctions, these countries pretend to be the vanguards of liberty and anti-imperialism? Sorry, but such regionally accepted hypocrisy, coupled with an inability to objectively look at their neighbors complete disregard of the principles that they supposedly hold dear, only highlights Latin America's inability to deal with their own issues (whether they be domestic or foreign). They'd rather blame the US or turn the other cheek (Colombians are quite good at that). Unfortunately, this is just a small example of why the countries of Latin America, will always be playing catchup with the world's more developed regions.

The BarkerLetter said...

... I have sought (in vain!) to find a single legitimate, fact based complaint from the Venezuela's critics, apart from the ones about toilet paper shortages. Would you kindly elaborate which "democractic policies" Venezuela has "flushed down the toilet?"

Also, please explain the missing link between Hezbollah and military grade weapons. I must have missed something there...

The BarkerLetter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miguel said...

Example of the Bolivarian Revolucion's trampling of democratic values? How about the elimination of judicial independence? Or the way that the legislature has ignored the Constitution, when inconvenient, to pass laws? Or the arbitrary arrests of opponents? Or the law just passed enabling Pres. Maduro to rule by decree until Dec. 31?

But all of this makes Venezuela's government a threat to its people, maybe to its neighbors, but not to the U.S.

The BarkerLetter said...

I see...
The backstory to the U.S. decision I believe is this: At the end of the Americas Presidential Summit two years ago in Cartagena Obama got a communique signed by Santos and the president of Brazil stating that if Castro were not invited to the next summit, Brazil and Colombia would not attend. This was reported by the Latin American press, but not in the U.S. What followed was/is the current rapprochement with Cuba, and the state department's condemnation of Venezuela, which followed on its heels. My best guess is the U.S. simply needs an enemy in South America as a justification for military action at some future date. They can't keep gliding by on Plan Colombia.

The BarkerLetter said...

... and by the way, Venezuela may not be friends with Colombia and Brazil, but they certainly aren't enemies either. I can't wait to see how this plays out ...

Dan K said...

Yeah, randomly putting members of your opposition in jail and shuttering media outlets that are critical of your policies, is great for democracy. Those guys have rigged the process to the extent that they are nothing more than democratic dictators. If you haven't seen that yet, then you need to remove your head from the sand.

The relatively lawless area in between Colombia and Venezuela is home to a fairly sizable Lebanese and Middle Eastern community. Proceeds from smuggling and moving drugs, has been making it's way into Hezbollah's coffers for quite some time. It's not exactly a secret that said organizations are active in Latin America. Furthermore, Hezbollah has conducted operations in Latin America (Argentina 1994), and it's not outside of the realm of possibility that Maduro could in some way collaborate with anti-US groups.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/03/world/americas/iran-latin-america/

The Venezuelan leadership has been trying to pin it's failed policies onto the back of the US for quite some time. If the Venezuelans want to make the US into the bad guy, than that's fine. However, it's quite petulant to play the victim, especially when they have been going out of their way to antagonize the US for quite some time. Maduro should read the boy who cried wolf. The US simply sanctioned a few individuals in the Venezuelan govt, and last time I checked, the US govt is well within it's rights to dictate matters within it's own borders. Maybe it's time that Venezuela butted out of US domestic policy?

Furthermore, speculating about and predicting US military interference, is a vestige of an era that is relegated to the history books. All the crying and bellyaching, is just another attempt at deflecting from the real issues. Until the leaders of many of these Latin American countries actually objectively look at the root causes of their own issues, then the rest of the world is going to be perpetually exposed to the "woe be unto me" approach that many of these governments embrace. It's much easier to blame a big target like the US, than to actually invest in reforming your country. Sorry, but trying to make up stories about military interference, isn't going to pull one's country out of the gutter.

Miguel said...

The phenomenon of terror financing happens all over the world. It's not particular to Venezuela, except for Venezuela's relative corruption and lawlessness.

But the rigging of the electoral process is a good point. While voting seems to be free and secret, the whole Venezuelan state is turned into a campaign machine for the president's reelection.

The BarkerLetter said...

Ha..! Scratch a liberal and you'll find a fascist bleeding...

Miguel said...

Who're you calling a fascist? Me, or Maduro?