14ymedio, Jose Gabriel Barrenchea, Santa Clara, 24 August 2015 –One morning, I had just arrived at the Cabaña Fort during the days of the 2014 Havana International Book Fair, and on consulting the daily program discovered that at this very moment the Bolivian vice president Alvara Garcia Linera was offering a videoconference in the Lezama Lima Room. The room was full of Bolivian civilians and Cuban military, who in a state of excitement not very common to a book fair, were cheering with the veins in their necks bulging every time Linera showed on a map a piece of territory which, according to him, one of his neighbors had grabbed from Bolivia.
According to Linera, absolutely all the countries bordering Bolivia had participated in this plundering. In fact, according to his speech, almost half of South America legally belonged to his country which, more than Andean – and in this he was explicit – was by right Amazonian.
The truth is that, despite all the supposed integrationist advances in Latin America, territorial or maritime claims are the order of the day. This persistence is due to the Latin American tendency to use the differences that these claims generate to divert public attention from domestic policies. There is no Latin American government, elected or imposed, of the left or the right, which in the face of a scenario of enormous popular disapproval doesn’t immediately look at a piece of territory that, supposedly or truly, some neighbor grabbed at some time in their history.
No Latin American government in the face of massive popular disapproval fails to remember the piece of land that a neighbor grabbed at some point in its history
The most emblematic case is the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentina’s military dictatorship which was foundering in a difficult economic and social internal situation. Emblematic because not only did it go beyond threats and rhetoric, but because the opponent was nothing more than one of the nations with the strongest fighting traditions and most prominent navies in human history: the United Kingdom.
The most recent, and the most pathetic (not to say cowardly), is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, with its pretension to claim from a much poorer country a piece of its territory rich in petroleum. A piece that, incidentally, represents half of Guyana. Thus, after the Chavez-Maduroism of the last two decades launching continuous and daily diatribes against imperialism, now takes off the mask and behaves like it actually is: a deeply ideological imperialist.
Thus, we can see the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela now practicing a blackmail diplomacy throughout the Caribbean, in a manner more unsubtle than almost anything Washington has done in its entire history.
How can we reconcile the integrationist Venezuelan discourse with this despicable and cowardly act? It does not make demands of the power of Great Britain, but rather of the poorest country that emerged through independence from that colonial power. Nothing changes, they shout to the four winds, with the resources in dispute in Venezuelan hands as they will also be available to the Guyanese people thanks to the extensive cooperation with the country “in solidarity.” On the contrary, this justification better shows the true nature of the “integrationism” and the Chavez-Maduro solidarity. It is Maduro’s Venezuela that decides and has the last word. In the end is it not our oil? Well do and think as we dictate from the Caracas fascism… I’m sorry, the socialism of the 21st century.
Venezuela seeks to strip from Guyana, a much poorer country, a piece of its oil-rich territory
The ultimate reasons for this infamy are the same ones that led Galtieri to assault the Falklands in 1982. With a barrel of oil under 38 dollars, and with increasingly meager support, Chavez-Maduroism seeks to distract attention from the difficult internal situation and, at the same time, put Venezuela in a state of war that gives it a free hand to close the few remaining spaces for democracy in the country. Because something that must be understood by the opponents to Chavez-Maduroism who, however, support this imperialist adventure: the principal objective is nothing more than to annul them as opponents, presenting the opposition attitude as treason “at such difficult times.”
The fear is that attitudes like that of Chavez-Maduro’s Venezuela are being repeated by other leftist regimes in these difficult times for them in the region. It should not surprise us when very soon the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, sitting on an erupting volcano, remembers the half of the country that Peru snatched from Ecuador more than a hundred years ago. As for the land of the “Great Indian Chief of the South,” Bolivia, we have already mentioned where the ideas of Linera have currency, his Great White Brain: a guy to be reckoned with and a bomb thrower.