14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 2 March 2019 — The Lima Group has renounced the use of force to save Venezuelans from the barbarism of the regime. Maduro is happy. That statement detracts from the Group’s credibility. There are thirteen countries, almost all of them very important. There were fourteen, but in practice there was a notable drop after the election of AMLO (Andrés Manuel López Obrador) in Mexico.
Why has the Lima Group taken this debilitating step? First, for fear of the reaction of local pro-communist groups. Second, to expand diplomatic and economic pressures. There are some European and Asian countries that would join, but only with the commitment to not resort to violence. And third, because of the resistance of local bureaucracies. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, for example, has encountered the muted reticence of Itamaraty Palace, Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The United States supports, but does not belong to, the Lima Group. That has allowed Washington to insist that “all options are on the table.” That phrase, reiterated by Mike Pence, means that the White House does not renounce the use of its unbeatable military force. The United States could pulverize 99% of the offensive units of the Venezuelan armed forces in the first six hours of an attack. All the aviation and the military bases of Maduro would be erased from the map. Probably most of the Chavista leaders would be exterminated.
However, the use of this military force is unlikely unless interim president Juan Guaidó is killed or detained when he returns to Venezuela. That is the “red line” drawn by the administration of Donald Trump in the Venezuelan conflict. A spokesman for the US government said it clearly: “If they touch Guaidó that would be the last decision Maduro would Make.”
As journalist Andrés Oppenheimer rightly pointed out, Nicolás Maduro faces a dilemma in which he can not win. If he kills or stops Guaidó, he will face the immediate demolition of his regime. If it does not kill or stop him, he will lose his authority and control over the country in the medium or long term.
The second is already happening. As I write this chronicle, more than 400 people in uniform have defected in Colombia. The increasing rate of leakage will soon be in the thousands. Potentially, that would be the military occupation force in the event of a war.
Maduro, who is a proconsul appointed by Havana, plays by the rules dictated by Cuba. Raúl Castro is convinced that whoever resists ends up winning the game. That is his experience. He estimates that the calendar favors it. He believes that after a certain time the relation of forces will turn the corner. He cannot solve any of the problems of Cuba denounced by himself (the rationed milk, the two currencies) but remains bolted in his post.
Maduro’s adversaries think otherwise. They believe that this time, time is against him. Every day the situation will become more critical. They will sell what is left of the gold resolves. The financial siege will fatally drown him. The lack of fuel locally will finish him off. There will not be a bunker to generate electricity. The Chavistas, used to stealing, will have no way to do so. Hyperinflation will continue and get worse. It is easier to print bills than to ask for a loan no one will grant, or to float bonds that only the demented would acquire. This would precipitate the final crisis, with the streets of Caracas overrun and the colectivos looting and facing a demoralized and disbanded army.
That is why it was a mistake for the Lima Group to renounce the use of force. It is not about Chavismo and Maduro being communists. That would be the least of it. Off one coast of Venezuela, in Guyana, at the time of Cheddi Jagan, there was also a Marxist-Leninist according to Winston Churchill’s infallible sense of smell. But they did not turn their country into a narco-dictatorship nor did they commit themselves to crime, so that nobody thought to invade them. With time they forgot about collectivism.
The problem is that Chavismo has constructed a dictatorship dedicated to drug trafficking and expanding Islamist terrorism. Thus, Humberto Belli, the former Minister of Education of Nicaragua, has raised the need to end the Maduro regime through collective arms.
His arguments are impeccable: if there is “revolutionary internationalism,” and if the left applauds “the divine presence of Commander Che Guevara,” no one can oppose the existence of “democratic internationalism,” especially when it would be acting in favor of Venezuelan sovereignty and by invitation of a legitimate government presided over by Juan Guaidó. His article ends with a salutation to “The Caribbean Legion” created by José Figueres to fight against the tyrannies of the time.
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