Venezuela: Six (And A Half) Men and One Destiny

“It’s very difficult to fear or respect a character who speaks with birds,” says Montaner (@NicolasMaduro)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carolo Alberto Montaner, Miami, 26 January 2019 — Maduro will have to go peacefully, or he will die as a consequence of an attack by his own group, as happened to Maurice Bishop.  Let’s look at the conflict’s six key factors.

Juan Guaidó, President of the National Assembly and acting President of Venezuela until elections are held.  He has the backing of the OAS (Organization of American States) and of 20 important nations.  Among them, the biggest or most accredited democracies: Canada, United States, England and Switzerland.  Also Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Educador and Paraguay.  Not only are some of his own group against him, but some of them, secretly, would like to become candidates and win elections against Chavismo.  For them it would be reassuring if Guaidó were to announce primaries in which he would not participate.  Since he is a young man, he has plenty of time and opportunities to become president.

Nicolas Maduro has a well-earned reputation as an idiot.  That is very serious for his allies.  The Prince is feared or respected.  Maduro is neither feared nor respected, in spite of the violence that usually accompanies him.  And Venezuelans also have good reasons for that.  It is very difficult to fear or respect a character who speaks with birds.  Inflation is the unceasing lightning.  It has pulverized wages, food, medicine.  Water and electricity are missing; phones and internet fail.  Sometimes even oil is missing.  The country is broken and falling apart.  Sixty-four percent of Venezuelans lost 11 kilos in 2017.  More than 24 pounds.  Faced with this scenario that has caused the exodus of more than three million desperate Venezuelans, Maduro responds with economic “tricks” like the petro, a useless virtual currency.

Luis Almagro, secretary-general of the OAS, is the greatest ally of Juan Guaidó and of free Venezuelans.  He has thrown them on his back, like Christ and the cross, with the intention of saving them from their political sins.  He proceeds from the left, and that is convenient.  He is Uruguayan.  He comes from a small and decent country that, unfortunately, has aligned with Maduro, which will cost him votes in the presidential elections to the carnivorous left that governs in Montevideo.  No one in his right mind will accuse Almagro of selling out to Wall Street or Yankee imperialism.  Nevertheless, his former comrades expelled him from the sect without even listening to him.  Never have so many owed so much to one person.

Donald Trump is no saint to me, but there is no doubt that on the Venezuelan topic he has acted as a statesman committed to democracy and human rights, and that is something to be appreciated.  It is true that the Trump administration’s Venezuelan policy has been drawn up by Senator Marco Rubio, Secretary Mike Pompeo, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and Vice-President Mike Pence, but without Trump’s backing it would all be useless, and the Chavistas and their accomplices could assassinate or jail members of the National Assembly.  In short:  If Trump stays firm in his support of Guaidó, the National Assembly has everything to gain.

Raul Castro and Miguel Diaz-Canel (the half man) know that it is a matter of time, little time, before the collapse of the Maduro regime if they don’t do something urgently.  The two — and almost the whole Cuban power structure — have a terrible opinion of Maduro as a statesman.  He seems to them a good but stupid boy.  Havana is panicked at a confrontation with the United States and seeing itself dragged into the conflict because of the colony’s incompetence.  They still remember what happened to them in Grenada in 1983 when they faced the Marines.  There were 800 Cubans who ran quickly.  Now there are almost 100,000, including the doctors, health personnel, and thousands of counter-intelligence workers.  Although “the Cubans” know that their best option is to continue exploiting the Venezuelans, they are prepared for an orderly retreat in the face of the possibility of clashing with the Americans.

Vladimir Putin has jumped into the Venezuelan crisis in support of Maduro and has threatened the United States.  That blunder guarantees that Trump cannot abandon Venezuela without suffering a serious loss of credibility.  Therefore:  He will stay.  In reality, Putin wants to restore the prestige of the Russian Federation and cover the debts contracted by Venezuela, but without coming to a confrontation with Washington.  Russia has the economic structure of a third world country.  It exports gas, oil, wood and imports manufactured products.  It is one of the planet’s biggest countries, with 144 million inhabitants, but with a per capita GDP like that of Costa Rica.  The US GDP is almost 20 trillion.  That of Russia is approximately that of South Korea (more or less 1.6 trillion).  It is a poor country.  Maduro begged him to come scare the Americans.  He will not be able to.  He is a false bodyguard.


Translated by Mary Lou Keel.

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