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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Venezuela: Socialism's Poster Boy

Over the years I have written a great deal about Venezuela's horrid Chavez/Maduro socialist regime. In addition, as a Foreign Service Officer, particularly when I worked in Guyana, at the UN, in SouthCom and at the OAS, I dealt with prior Venezuelan governments as well as the current regime and its supporters and opponents.

Venezuela provides one of the great tragic stories of our time. A tragedy in the true sense of the word: the players know the outcome but keep on acting their assigned roles. Even before gangster Chavez assumed the presidency, the place had very serious problems. It had striking wealth and striking poverty; it had some very modern sectors and some very backwards ones. It had an unstable, corrupt, and barely functioning democracy, but it did have a lively free press, and opponents did not get themselves exiled, imprisoned, or have their property seized--unlike under Chavez/Maduro.

In MY experience, with some exceptions, Venezuelan diplomats, regardless of the party in power in Caracas, came across, as insufferable, arrogant and ignorant. Decidedly anti-American, they thought Venezuela deserved a much more prominent place in the sun, one denied them by the US. I found them poorly trained, and, again, as a rule, not very knowledgeable about anything except their diplomatic immunities and duty-free rights. Not a pleasant crowd. Under the Chavez/Maduro regime, that diplomatic corps became outright gangsters who would bully, insult, and threaten to get their way. They threw around oil money as though it would last forever. I had many clashes with Venezuelan diplomats in private in back rooms negotiating some accord or another, and in public on the floor of the OAS. They were not very impressive. The Venezuelan people did not get their money's worth.

Well, it seems, and I emphasize that word, we might have entered the last days of the evil Chavez/Maduro regime. I don't know, but certainly hope so--although I have absolutely no idea, nor does anybody else, about what comes next and how. The end of Maduro's rule, while most welcome, will not end the troubles for Venezuela. Under socialism, this previously already troubled country has become an absolute wreck. Any leader after Maduro will have his hands full, and enjoy a VERY short honeymoon. A new leader will inherit a horrific situation, a challenge of incredible proportions.

The economy has all but disappeared. People are starving in the dark, yes, starving with no electricity in an oil-rich country in the 21st century. Basic public services, including hospitals, have ceased to function. Perhaps as many as four million people have fled abroad, including doctors, nurses, engineers, and, of course, investors and businessmen, foreign and domestic, large and small. How will any new government get them to return? How will Venezuela resuscitate its dying oil sector? How will it address the dire food and medical shortages? What about the chaotic situation in the streets, to wit, Caracas as the murder capital of the world? How will Venezuela deal with its huge foreign debt, the depletion of its foreign currency reserves, and the collapse of its currency? How will it handle millions of people now entirely dependent on the government? What about meting out justice to the drug-dealing crooks and savages of the socialist Chavez/Maduro regime? The questions come in an endless cascade; the answers not even in a trickle.

And the USA? Obama completely mishandled Venezuela. Under that administration, we engaged in full retreat; we rarely if ever responded to the attacks, insults, and lies hurled at us by that criminal regime. Bush did not prove much better. Under both Bush and Obama, we allowed Chavez/Maduro to challenge us in our hemisphere; join ranks with narcos, terrorists, and other of our enemies; we let Caracas interfere in the political processes of multiple nations in the region; as noted, we did little or nothing about any of it. Trump has handled Venezuela much better with targeted sanctions, tough honest talk, and, of course, by unleashing our own energy potential undermining not only the crooks in Venezuela but those in Russia and in Iran, as well.

I do not want US military intervention in Venezuela. The challenge posed by the disaster in Venezuela appears one more for Colombia, Brazil, and others in the region than for the USA. We should encourage the Latin Americans, who seem finally to have woken to the Venezuelan calamity, to handle the situation. Let them intervene if they want; we should not. We should stand ready to help as part of an international humanitarian effort, but that's it--with one exception, see below. We should not want to own this mess. To put it mildly, little to no gain exists for the USA in military intervention in Venezuela. The negatives FAR outweigh any positives. I repeat, we do not want ownership of the Venezuelan disaster.

Russia? Moscow stands to become a big loser if the Maduro regime goes down. If that happens, it appears uncertain that Russia (or China) would get back their huge investments and loans. Even more important for the Russians, collapse of Maduro's rule would unravel what remains of the old Soviet play in Latin America. Could the end of the vile socialist regimes in Nicaragua and Cuba--both dependent on discounted Venezuelan oil--come far behind? In sum, what remains of Moscow's challenge to the US in this hemisphere crumbles with the end of the Chavez/Maduro criminal regime.

This brings us to the exception to no US intervention. Aside from providing humanitarian assistance, we should make clear to the Russians--and their Cuban puppets--as well as the Chinese, that they must stay out; they cannot try to run the game in Venezuela; if they do, they will face consequences from us.

Best of luck to the people of Venezuela.

14 comments:

  1. It's been a long time since I lived there. Bring back the petroleum engineers, the civil engineers, ag experts, repatriate the lands stolen from their owners, give them tax credits, spend two years on infrastructure. Remake a modern society. Get rid of the thugs. I wish them well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let their oil, not the American public, pay for it all.

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    2. That is the common (and right-headed) rhetoric given as rationale. Sadly, it is seldom what happens. Exhibit A: Iraq 2003 ad nauseum.

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  2. Venezuela is a black hole where all sanity is sucked in and destroyed. The chaos there will only spread and anyone attempting to assist will become contaminated by the corruption and aftermath of a corrupt dictatorship. The best policy is to show that Chavez was the logical result of decades of dallying with socialism. The people of Venezuela choose their path, let us hold it up as a warning to all. Free,free, free, is the trap used to trap people. Its why the mouse gets killed going after free cheese.

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  3. I can only hope that Venezuela gets back to where they have a MacDonald's and locals can afford to eat there. Anything is better than what they have now.

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  4. I have to imagine that it was the pre-Chavez poverty which triggered this whole mess. The rich were rich, the poor had no hope. As one person I knew from Vz put it: "Life in America is hard.. all the cooking and cleaning for yourself, in Venezuela 'everybody' has servants who handle that stuff."
    If large swathes of the populace are economically forced into domestic servitude, they will be quite ripe for ingesting bad ideas like communism (*oops*.. 'socialism').
    Many other oil-only countries seem to handle this better somehow.

    - reader #1482

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. California is slowly getting into the same situation with the haves and the have nots.

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    2. was wondering why stuff on california public transport trains (BART) wasn't getting cleaned/mopped over night (first train in the morning, sticky with garbage everywhere)... then it occurred... can't hire a cleaner to clean the trains at night without a calpers pension that will pay like 90% of last salary after 30'ish years.... if I had that union-run requirement on my budget, I wouldn't hire anybody.
      California survives in spite of the socialist claims, but typically doesn't put into action, it makes for itself.

      - reader #1482

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  5. I guess not all the sh*tholes of the world are in Africa and have no natural resources. Still the Kennedy boys rolled around in this fetid wallow.

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  6. I'm ready for Lethal Weapon 14, Las Cucarachas Caracas, starring Danny Glover and Sean Penn, directed by Oliver Stone. Michael Moore plays the ghost of Chavez because he wasn't able to peddle his own script, "Fistful of Arepas".

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  7. We will probably also see a surge of migrants leaving Vz.

    I'm sure Vz still has its very rich and very poor, only now, the very rich are the nomenklatyura/Gao Gan Zi Di clustered around Maduro, while the very poor now include most of what was once Vz's middle class.

    Mr. Mad, your comments on VZ's diplomats was interesting; and I look forward to reading more of your observations on how the rest of the world does foreign policy/diplomacy.

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  8. You can not give a people freedom. They have to claim it for themselves then fight to keep it. The people of Venezuela have to become so desperate, so hungry, that they are willing to do whatever it takes. If you come in and try to solve the problem and give them their freedom, they will never learn the lesson and will just vote in the next dictator to offer free stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. and even then, the lesson doesn't last... free stuff... free stuff.... we're gonna give everybody money... and the government's going to pay for it... it's the theme of modern elections...

      - reader #1482

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  9. An aunt taught English at the University of Carabobo and considered her students arrogant. She said one student stood up once (when she admonished the class they needed to study harder) and exclaimed they didn't need to study. Each Venezuelan owned a barrel of oil a day. Another aunt lived in the barrios in the hills surrounding Caracas. Cab drivers were afraid to go there night.

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