A threat, but only in theory


The US Congress has passed a law asking for sanctions against Venezuelan human rights violators. President Obama is expected to sign it.

So you will hear a lot in the coming days about “imperialism,” about how the US is looking to overthrow the Venezuelan revolution, and about how our number one trading partner will “never get their hands on Venezuela’s oil.”

It’s bunk.

Venezuela ought to be a strategic problem. By joining forces with Russia, Iran, and China, Venezuela is moving away from its natural tendencies and embracing these countries in a rejection of modernity, of Western values. By thumping their collective noses, these countries put the West’s military and economic dominance at risk.

These countries represent a threat to the liberal democracies of the West. Venezuela, as part of that group, should theoretically become part of that threat.

The problem is that Western powers don’t bunch Venezuela together with that group.

Russia and China represent a strategic risk for the West. A Venezuelan government more inclined to the West would, on the margin, alleviate this risk. For example, there are plans for the US to export liquified natural gas (LNG) to Europe in order to help wean Europeans off Russian and Middle Eastern gas. A development of Venezuela’s non-existent LNG industry could help in that regard. Installing a “friendly” regime in Venezuela would certainly help.

But Western countries don’t see the potential of a friendly Venezuela.

Time and again, when I spoke to people about Venezuela in Halifax, I got the distinct impression that people just … weren’t informed. Save for a few specialists, most of the diplomatic and military leaders I spoke to didn’t have Venezuela on their radar screen. They either thought chavismo was still really popular, or did not know that Venezuela was going through an apocalyptic economic meltdown. They were blissfully ignorant about Petrocaribe coming to an end. Few people were even aware that Venezuela had obtained a seat at the UN Security Council.

Mind you, these weren’t just folks on the street – these were national security practitioners!

Time and again, I get the distinct feeling that foreigners simply don’t care enough about Venezuela to bother doing something about it. They have simply assumed the situation is too damn complicated to force the overthrow of the government. They feel the government will collapse in on itself, and once it does they’ll figure out what to do.

We tend to think of international organizations – particularly intelligence and military organizations – as an ever-knowing, always plotting cabal. But as this week’s CIA report has shown, people inside these organizations have their own agendas, and their own rationale for doing things. Just because it makes sense to want to overthrow Maduro does not mean they’re actually trying to do so. Government does many things pretty poorly, and overthrowing governments is one of them.

I think the Venezuelan government knows this. They crave the attention, and by joining in Russia and China’s rejection of western norms, Venezuela is hoping, willing itself into relevance.

Ultimately, the fight against modernity will be lost. Venezuela is not a natural ally of Russia and China – in fact, it is not even a natural ally of Brazil. There is too much in common between Venezuela and the US for this breakup to be definitive. The US instinctively knows this, but they are not doing anything proactively to make this come about.

In other words, Western powers seem to be cautiously waiting Maduro out. They seem to believe that chavismo will fall and that Venezuela will return to its natural course, as a Western democracy, flawed like all democracies are.

They are probably wishing for this to happen, but it doesn’t mean they’re actually doing something about it, no matter what Maduro says.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

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  1. Juan! Geez, what’s the matter with you?
    Any time and you are going to mourn there is no Kissinger now to plead for the installation of a “liberal” regime in Venezuela based on CIA and marines.

      • No, you are not saying things. You are implying them very eloquently. For:
        if Western countries cared about Venezuela they would do WHAT? Cry? Pray? Wish things?
        Impose sanctions? Other measures?
        And what should matter whether they care or not and how they care?

  2. There’s a certain self-satisfied Fukuyamaish complacency to this equation of the NATO countries with modernity, and lefties like me are always going to choke on it. I don’t want anything to do with the kind of modernity that rectally hydrates prisoners during interrogation and kills unarmed black teenagers like it’s going out of fashion. And that’s to say nothing of PODEMOS, Marine LePen, Golden Dawn, Nigel Farage, the whole panoply of reactionaries of both the far left and – more often – the far right now making a mockery of the Western Alliances claim to own modernity. Sorry, but no.

    Whatever is wrong with the Chinese model, for instance, lack-of-modernity is not it. Besides, nous n’avons jamais été modernes…

    • Look, quibble all you want with the term “modernity,” but I think there is a clear difference in the worldview of Russia and China, for example, and that of the Western democracies. The CIA report doesn’t really change that.

      More on the use of modernity (you have to go to the video on PLenary 1):

    • Don’t confuse a belief in liberal democracy as the least worst of government models with ‘self-satisfied’ complacency.

      None of those reactionary parties have come to power, or will come to power. Lay off the hyperbole.

      Yes, the West has problems, but good god. When is the last time any non Western country examined their own government’s very recent humans rights abuses and released the report to the public?

    • Besides, the deceptive equation “Modernity = Happiness” hardwired into the brain of Venezuelans has cost us a lot of money and trouble along the way. For better or worse, we have awkward evidences like this one —> https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2014/09/11/torre-de-david-avant-la-lettre/

      “…a symbol of modernity’s progressive thrust became instead an emblem of its failures —of the price paid for wishing to change everything at all costs, for imposing a vision unilaterally, for dreaming for others what they may not want to dream at all.”

      It’s all about philosophy, babe.

    • In a week when I have learned for the first time about the CIA practice of “anal feeding”, and hearing a lot of important and formerly important people defend what is unmistakably torture, I am having a little choke myself.

      When Maduro throws back, well, you folks in the Imperio jail, torture and kill innocent people…what exactly is the appropriate rejoinder? …Obama says we can’t now?

    • Little leftist heart at it, again. Like modernity is best characterized by the “killing of unarmed black teenagers,” the poor little things. Have you ever read “White girl bled a lot?” You should, it is very enlightening. But, I agree with you, lack of modernity is not what the “Chinese model” lacks. Actually, what it lacks is the old 5th century Athens wisdom (a.k.a. as democratic thinking), something that is still and for the foreseeable future alien to them. Damn, Niall is right: it is the west and … the rest.

      • Few things are more pathetic than self-hating rich kids that think they’re on a mission to save everyone else. For them, being poor/black/latino/woman/gay/long-etc is enough to be virtuous and to get the benefit of the doubt, facts notwithstanding.

        Well put, JM.

    • ” I don’t want anything to do with the kind of modernity that rectally hydrates prisoners during interrogation and kills unarmed black teenagers like it’s going out of fashion. ”

      Well, we can’t blame and bash “modernity” based only in the actions of a handful of douchebags.

      It’s like saying 10 or 15 years from here when chavismo has crumbled to ashes, that Venezuela is a shithole because they were rectally raping prisioners during non-interrogations with rifles, and killing unarmed citizens because it’s a fashion allowed by the government.

      But I get your point there, extremes are always bad, and right now, the extremes are using polarization to climb into power.

    • The only difference between police brutality and abusive tactics in USA and in Vzla is that in USA it gets reported in the news and people are allowed to protest about it. In Vzla and other parts of the world not only happens on a regular basis but it goes undetected…. Venezuelans are not allowed to protest peacefully about all the abuse done by the regime…
      US haters much on this post? It also amazes me how when things go ok nobody wants USA intervening in their affairs but comes trouble and the crying starts with complains about how USA is not doing anything to remove foreign regimes from power…..

      • Also in the US once an abuse gets reported measures are taken to stop it , while in Venezuela abuses are winked at and allowed to remain with the blind eye of authorities .

    • This is a level of hyperbole I never expected from you. The current administration ended those practices on the second day of office, I’m not saying the US is this grand example of western values, if you really want to criticize the US just go further and further back into its meddling in Latin American countries. I kind of agree with JCN despite being hard left myself, Venezuela should have been able to truly modernize with the oil surpluses. Now it seems all of that was squandered.

    • You two here like to play liberal and republican. It’s pretty obvious what your role is every time the other traitor says something self-depreciating like “by joining forces with Russia, Iran, and China, Venezuela is moving away from its natural tendencies and embracing these countries in a rejection of modernity, of Western values.”

      You’re not fooling anyone, Francisco. You’re going to pay tenfold.

  3. There is too much in common between Venezuela and the US for this breakup to be definitive.
    Three of my high school friends – only 160 in my HS class- had ties to Venezuela, and not a Hispanic surname among them.

    Regarding the attention that others pay to Venezuela, I recall having a drink or two in Guatemala City with a Nicaraguan who lived in California. His take: ” I love Americans: ‘Nicaragua: where the hell is that?’ ”
    It would hurt Maburro and his crowd to realize how little attention most Yanquis pay attention to Venezuela.

  4. Venezuela’s failed experiment with its populist brand of socialism should be required reading for those studying the outcomes both political and economic of the consolidation of political and economic power allegedly for an underclass. It never works because like a narcotic elites are drawn to it but soon forget the failed outcomes. Venezuela is relevant.

  5. You can also see the loss of influence or attention on a regional level. Long gone are the days when Venezuela was the leader of South American international politics, both as an ally (to Correa, Evo, et al.) and as an enemy (Uribe). While it’s true that Santos “made up” with Venezuela when Chávez was still alive, there has been a marked reduction in the attention we pay to Venezuela in Colombia, both in politics and the media, it’s no longer a threat, even a symbolic one. And there’s no way in hell Correa calls Maduro at night for advice.

    You can also see that South American politics have become less polarized now that Venezuela, the most extremist and least pragmatic, has lost its influence.

    There’s no need to tell Maduro “por qué no te callas”, nobody is paying attention in any case.

  6. I agree with Juan too.

    And in a world haunted by ISIS, Al Qaeda, Putin, Assad, Kim Jong Un etc., the “Venezuelan problem” must obvioulsy be put into perspective. Even more because Maduro and his pranks are closer to comedy than to a real threat to the world, and 99.9% of his terrible policies and human rights violations only affect the Venezuelan people.

    However, if Maduro decides invading Guyana for good, bullying the Colombian army at the border, and developing WMDs, then it will be a very different matter, and Venezuela will “get into the radar” (litteraly) in a matter of seconds.

    Ps: It has been said that the fourth-fleet has been activated in 2008 after a 50-year-long hiatus just because of Venezuela and Chavez explosive rethoric. So, yeah, we may not see them, but they are watching us.

    • Por dios!!! In 2008 the US was fighting two wars at the same time in the middle east and you are telling me they activated the fleet because of Chavez “rhetoric”??? seriously? Chavez??? C’mon!!!!
      A country that is not able to send a letter from La Trinidad to Altamira will represent a mayor stress to the US interests and requires the 4th fleet to be activated???

      • That’s what was in the newspapers back then, my friend. But I would love to hear different perspectives on the issue. Be my guest, sir.

        Just notice that the fourth fleet’s teather of operation is the South Atlantic, making it useless for the “two wars being fought at the same time” you mentioned.

      • When did I say that it was? Bad reading comprehension day by any chance?

        And it’s interesting who do you socialists like to divide people by using social class to mock them, the same “sifrinos” bullcrap that the Chavistas use against MCM and López.

        Just grow the hell up already.

      • Techkampfer,

        By reading old news on the subject at hand, I was reminded that the reactivation of the fourth fleet coincided with Chávez’ purchase/deliveries of dozens of Su-30MK2, along with other heavy artillery’s and state of the art anti-aircraft warfare’s orders from Russia. What would arguably transform the Venezuelan Air Force into the most lethal and feared air force in all Latin America in the coming years. What eventually happened.

        Anyway, we civilians will never know for sure why they have reactivated the fourth fleet after more than 50 years of being inactive, so we can only speculate. But let me tell you that blaming “drug traffiking, weapons trafficking and terrorism money laundry” is a weak theory, because you don’t need aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers in the South Atlantic to counter that, as the smugglers use civilian aircrafts and merchant vessels to get their ‘products’ into Europe. It would be only a waste of resources and personnel.

        However, if Venezuela use its Su-30MK2 to attack Guyana next week, for example, what is not a far-fetched possibility at all, no neighbours would be able to deffend that country. I doubt that even Colombia would be able to deffend itself from a Venezuelan attack. I believe that that’s the ultimate reason the fourth fleet is there.

        And Halfempty, to claim that the Fourth Fleet has no ships assigned to it is just absurd, as the US Navy don’t disclose their ships’ assignments, so we just don’t know – unless you work for the US Navy and have access to classified data. If that’s the case, I apologise.

        • But SOUTHCOM operate most in the Caribeann Basin, Central America and in some operations in the south, like the very public ones in the Triple-border where Terrorism money laundry has been one of the focus of Intelligence agencies in the area, as you can see in the conections between Primer comando de la capital and Hezbollah that Brazilians has discover.

          Of course, i’m not denying that Sukhois can be perceived as a hint of a possible conflict, but is we see the the overall elements of Venezuelan army (Pechora, S-300,T-72) we’ll see that is most focused on land and anti-aircraft (and also old). Can this be considered a threath by Colombia? I doubt it, Guyana? Will be a costly movement for Venezuela, because we will lose the support of Petrocaribe countries.

          So, when it come to priorities and the actions of SOUTHCOM/4TH Fleet, i think is a little of this and that.

          PS: Carrier and Submarines are important to handle drug boats too, mostly if they operate in the part of atlantic where boats come and go from Africa to Brazil

        • Marc not Navy or Spook. But I can find nothing about ships assigned to the Fourth Fleet. Perhaps my search technique is lacking, ships assigned to other fleets are pretty much public aside from submarines of course. So indeed it might be that 4th is composed of subs only and are prowling the Venezuelan coast even as I type.

          There was one Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigate assigned a few years back prior to its decommissioning and sale. Ships of the 3rd fleet often visit the 4ths fleet area of responsibility tho. Not certain if they are chopped to 4ths command while in transit. Maybe someone who knows in the audience?

  7. Venezuelans and our egocentric personalities. No one cares because it is not their problem.
    If we keep thinking that someone else will solve our own problem, we will never end up been a country.
    We need to grow up an assume our responsibility, we are here because as a country cant figure out what is appropriate for us. This is not China’s problem neither USA problem, this shit is caused by us and should be solved by us.
    We are where we are by action or omission and, like an alcoholic, we need to understand we have a problem as a society and then we will be able to solve the problem.

    Right now, it is someone else’s fault and “they” should fix it. Chavismo and Opposition have the same amount of responsibility, and only together will be able to fix this mess.

  8. I believe neglect of Venezuela by the U. S. Govt. is intentional/strategic–a wonderful example for the rest of L.A./world of a small pop natural resource-rich country that went Left and failed miserably in all respects–an example not to be followed by other would-be Leftist governments….

  9. Estimado Juan, ]

    This idea of appealing to the USA on the basis of Venezuela’s alignment with “Russia, China and Iran” is not effective. I won’t repeat here what I have said many times on my own blog and elsewhere on the basis of both my own and others’ research about the geostrategic implications of China in Venezuela. .. rather, I ask you to recall, instead, the statement of the US ambassador in Venezuela after he first had a long talk with his counterpart from China (as revealed by Wikileaks): He described the Chinese ambassador as “… the most reasonable man” he had ever spoken to there, or something similar, and that Chinese investments were no threat to the USA’s interests.

    Then, take Iran. A research article i wrote a couple yeas ago (Middle East Economic Survey) about the ACTUAL Iranian participation in Venezuelan oil and other projects found that all their oil projects and many others were abandoned, and that the NIOC (Iran’s oil company) had abandoned the country, leaving only the Venezuelan president and his secretary in the office in Caracas. Others wrote similar articles. (Within a couple days, Obama gave a radio interview in Miami saying how Iran appeared to pose no threat to the USA via Venezuela. Note too that various right-wing think tanks also stopped their refrain to isolate Venezuela on the basis of Iranian influence there over the ensuing months.

    As for Russian participation in Venezuela, it is rather incoherent. Meanwhile, whatever damage it is doing to Venezuela, it is clearly no serious strategic threat to the USA. So, this is a useless refrain (i.e., the idea that the USA should be enthusiastic about a transition in Venezuela because it should be concerned about eliminating security threats emanating from Venezuela due to chavismo’s ties with China, Iran and Russia)

    It is geostrategically unsubstantiated and not a productive path for the Venezuelan opposition to pursue.

    And, yes, I agree: there is little support for a significant transformation of the political power structure of Venezuela within N. America. However, it is not without its reasons. (I think I will take this up in a post over at my blog. The long and short of it is that the opposition has done significant damage to its credibility among US “experts and foreign policy elites” in places like DC from (1) unrealistic predictions over many years about the staying power of chavismo and especially there was a loss of respect for the opposition because of certain opposition elements’ constant requests and expectation that the US should, in some fashion, put an end to chavismo for them (a sentiment which is mildly echoed again in this blog post here) (2) also, and most importantly, due to the opposition’s collective inability to take advantage of many crises in Venezuela over the years and to act as a coherent domestic social-political force.

    As it stands, the reality is that there is not much optimism in the USA or Europe about the outcome of any transition, In my opinion, these new US sanctions are not a reflection of any change in that sentiment.

    • If I were a chavista, I’d be rolling on the floor laughing. Since I’m not, my two cents is that we’d better swallow this truth and think about it.

    • In other words, Venezuelans should stop to stare at their belly buttons. Nobody is going to get them out of the mess in which they themselves dug in.

  10. The only threat Venezuela ever posed to the US was the threat of emulation: that other countries in the region would want to follow down an increasingly radical path. In 2005-2006, this was a real threat.

    Chavismo’s very public failure as an economic model has neutralized the threat more thoroughly than any diplomacy ever could have. Today only a lunatic or a psychopath would want to emulate Venezuela. If Western national security types don’t think of Venezuela as a problem, this is why.

    These days Venezuela is a threat only to its own citizens.

  11. ” They feel the government will collapse in on itself, and once it does they’ll figure out what to do.” The problem I see is that what’s to come may be worse than Maduro. The military and Cabello….

    • Oh please. The Venezuelan military is a social welfare program for the poor that would collapse as soon as it was required to do anything beyond their job of ignoring narco traffic. They pretend to be trying to learn methods for internal repression but luckily bring the typical venezuelan military lack of ambition to this kind of work.

    • “…what’s to come may be worse than Maduro. The military and Cabello….”
      pimentón and the corrupt military ARE in power together with maburro right now, dude.
      Stop fearing that pimentón might seize power if the current face in chimpanflores gets off it, ’cause he’s already with one buttock in that seat.

  12. Im not sure what binds China , Russia and Iran together except that they are all authoritarian regimes ( very different in nature) and in the case of Russia and Iran (but not China) their anti americanism . Same can be said of Venezuela’s regime , Dont see China admiring Russian or Iranian Models of Society or vice versa ( In fact Iran would be very uncomfortable with the Chinese Model , Russia and China with the Fundamentalist Iranian Model) . I think that hatred of the US and its system of values is a potent emotional weapon that the Russian ,Venezuelan and Iranian regimes use to bolster the sectarian or nationalist passions of their partisans but that deep down they dont see their own system as exportable to countires outside their inmediate neighborhoods. Equally Im not certain that the Venezuelan regime sees Fundamentalist Iran as a model although there are some aspects of the Chinese and Russian model they would like to emulate but know they cant because the Regime here has developed to a highly idiosincratic form which has deep roots in specifically Venezuelan culture and history.

    The Chinese Iranian and Russian societies have not developed as ‘modern liberal’ systems because their culturally very far from the cultural roots that bred modern democracy ( Fukuyama has written a lot about the Chinese model and its origins others about the Russian inclination to Despotic systems and Iran is a religious outlier that bares no comparison to either China or Russia or the West and of course to Venezuela)

    In the scheme of things Venezuela is small fry making noises but posing no real threat to anybody except as a model for emulation for other latam countries ( which as Francisco has pointed out is a thing of the
    Past) . For all of the above I tend to agree with Mr O’Donell in thinking that making a case for Venezuela being part of a dangerous cuatripartite alliance of same minded regimes doesnt quite wash except in a very superficial way. What China Russia and Iran have in common is that they dont buy into the Modern Liberal Model at all , but after then its every country for itself .

    Venezuela is different because we do have many things which culturally can make us gravitate towards the formation of a modern liberal society much more than the other three countries (albeit a partially failed exemplar of the model) we have been sidetrack by historical processes but there is nothing fundamental to prevent us from eventually joining the rest of the western world in forming our own form of liberal democracy fi we have a change of regime . Thats where we differ from the others

    • “Im not sure what binds China , Russia and Iran together”.

      How about calling them a “cabal” of hijacked governments whose legitimacy is a sustained illusion maintained in part by fear mongering the single superpower that keeps them from a good night’s sleep.

      • If legitimacy is defined as a peoples routine acquiescence in comfortaly going along with a persons or groups rule without any vehement rejection of its existence then maybe all these regimes do enjoy an ersatz form of legitimacy . Putin is very popular in Russia , his playing to the nationalist nostalgic sentiments of the population have gained him much popularity . Most chinese ( although not all) feel comfortable with Party mandarinate rule specially when it manages at the same time to offer them an increased improvement to their quality if life, Iranians include many religous fanatics who do revere their Religious Fundamentalist Leaders although it may be fair to say that by harbouring so much internal dissafection it is probably the regime with the weakest claim to legitimacy . The thing is that ideologically even if they all seat at the same table of opposition to Western Values they dont all eat from the same plate or like the same food . Their rejection of western liberal political values doenst mean that they share in the same fundamental values in terms of how their internal life should be organized . Also except perhaps for the Iranians as regard the muslim world they have no interest in exporting their own kind of political model as a kind of universally valid model for all countries in the World. Theirs is a marriage of convenience not of share affection .

        • Let’s just say that legitimacy means staying in power without the use of the political advantages of being already in power to obstruct and control those processes that provide legitimacy.

          • Excellent functional definition !! not what the theoriticians talk about but certainly one we in Venezuela can understand. !!

          • There is the contrived modernity that serves the purposes of the elite. And there is also a potential modernity that technology could provide for purposes of everyone, providing renewable resources, replacing workers with machines, reducing work hours without reducing wages, increasing the quality of life for everyone without enriching those who wish to control production to maximize personal gain. That would be a 21st century ideal.

  13. I read Juan’s post, read it again, and read it once more. Then I set it aside then came back to it and gave it another read. And it still not making any sense.

    Venezuela is not a strategic problem.
    Venezuela is not a threat to anyone but itself.
    Venezuela is not moving away from its natural tendencies as if it was a conscious decision reflecting a defined strategy.

    Venezuela isn’t doing shit.

    Venezuela is just slowly and not so slowly falling apart at the hands of inept thugs.

    And, yes, no one cares. Not even its purported Russian or Chinese allies.

  14. I am so sorry to se what a lack of culture and insight just a bunch of stupid middle class Venezuelans , good only for drinking whiskey traveling to Miami and using reader digest as a source….

  15. There are two things the world wants from Venezuela: oil and oilmoney. As long as Venezuela keeps the oil somewhat flowing and importing lots of stuff, they’ll be okay with the way things are.

    • and if Venezuela would fail to provide any of the two? they would fade in importance to Honduras level of relevance. Face it, as long as Venezuela does not affect regional stability,which it no longer can, nobody cares in any significant way what happens here. Venezuelans will have to resolve this on their own.

      • Warning: this is a long chain of ifs.

        If Chavismo were to drastically reduce their oil output, at say less than 1,5 million daily oil barrels AND

        If oil prices where to rise again, at say USD 150 per barrel,

        THEN tapping into the world’s largest oil reserves might become an interesting proposition. A similar situation lead to a post-Sadam Iraq, where US oil companies replaced former partners and upgraded the oil infrastructure, resulting in a much larger oil output.

        OTH a dwindling stream of oil-money would diminish Chavismo’s diplomatic cover within the region, thus weakening the regime in the face of a possible transition. Most votes to not let MCM speak at the OAS came from PetroCaribe beneficiaries.

  16. Sanctions aren’t going to solve anything. Look at Iran and North Korea. Piles and piles of sanctions heaped upon those countries and they’ve still managed to develop nuclear weapons. The sanctions aren’t going to force chavistas to change their ways, they’ll only make them more intransigent. I just hope these sanctions don’t hurt the ordinary Venezuelan.

    • Don’t put iran and north korea in the same sentence as venezuela . Those countries are ideologically driven. The sanctions against Venezuela are a small attempt to affect the behavior of a kleptocracy . By depriving the ruling class of their shopping havens and retirement homes it is hoped that the government will act more responsably.

    • You can say that sanctions didn’t affect Iran at all, or North Korea. If we compare the situations during Bush administration with Obama’s, is clear that things have chanded (but in IIRR, things don’t usually change in a fast pace)

  17. I think none in this blog feel that the sanctions are undeserved only that some doubt whether they serve any useful purpose or whether they may not be used by the regime to fabricate a propaganda campaign to stirr up their partisans and encrouch further into Venezuelans freedoms in order to advance their tyranical agenda. US congress is sending a message that they are becoming less indifferent to the plight of Venezuela , that may help create a climate of awareness in the US circles of power about the situation here that can later take the form of more impacting measures . So short term the regime will use the sanctions to further its goals but long term things are starting to happen which may lead to interesting results .

    10 years ago the notion of gay marriage was rejected by a large mayority of americans , then little by little , small gestures and pronunciations of sympathy and support started gathering up until slowly they created a tidal wave of sentiment that has made the legalization of gay marriage practically an inevitable result .

    Sometimes we have to look at events not from a short term perspective but from the perspective of how small things sometimes mount up leading to surprising results.

  18. At least in Europe the Cold War was more characterized by a search for compromises and cooperation, especially between West and East Germany. The GDR received a constant stream of money to let political prisoners emigrate to the West. Western visitors had to exchange a certain amount of Eastern Deutschmark for a 1:1 rate, when Black Market paid 7:1. In the 70ties and 80ties the GDR received a lot of credits from Western Germany. We paid the upgrading of the transit routes to Berlin.
    In return the GDR conceded some alleviation for travel (mostly due to meet family members in the other part of the country) and emigration of dissidents.
    Also western german companies outsourced an astounding amount of labour intensive work in areas like furniture assembly to the east, because the wage level in the paradise of the working class was a real bargain for western capitalists.
    It was not we against the reds and it never will be.

  19. Venezuela ceased being a strategic problem the moment the US decided to get off of Venezuelan oil. It’s a classically capitalist way to render a power irrelevant. Eventually it will come to a head. Yes, you guys have been predicting it forever, but oil has pretty much been a boom since 2002. It’s been the lifeblood of chavista policy. That is about to change.

  20. Venezuela should raise the stakes and retaliate against the travel ban by freezing all yanqui assets and preventing them from leaving the country.

  21. And Although there are human rights violations everywhere else lets look at Mexico and their “Santa Muerta” cult and the massive numbers of murders and tortures, kidnappings and rapes that dwarf ISIS in the middle east. This is an issue one would have thought would have been at the forefront of Obama’s concerns and priorities about human rights. But no it is Venezuela.

    Whilst there is no need to argue that Venezuela may have its fair share f human rights abuses as any society does, why the presidential intervention without any action on Mexico which is worst than any?

    As for the bit about the overthrowing the government bit, well the US does have a history of changing government’s through coup d’etat and invasions. Very few the last century through legitimate means. And yes oil does play a very big part in driving their foreign policy.

    If Venezuela’s opposition could distance itself a little more from the US the ideas it advances may have a little more currency with the masses it must be seeking to influence.

    • The Mexican central government is not planning and perpetrating humans rights abuses against political opponents and those considered supporters of political opponents. Cartel violence is a completely different animal than the state orchestrated violence in Venezuela. And you do realize that Venezuelan has more than twice the murder rate of Mexico, right?

      “Whilst there is no need to argue that Venezuela may have its fair share f human rights abuses as any society does”

      What do you mean “as any society does”? There is no regime anywhere in the Americas who commits as many calculated human rights abuses as does the Venezuelan regime does.

      • Me thinks you live in a dream world or at best try to convey that impression. Read the CIA torture report. Thats only the tip f the ice berg. But if human rights abuses you mean squeezing the proverbials of the coup plotters and their supporters I don’t think thats humans rights abuse at all. And neither do millions of others the world over.

  22. There is a big difference between a govt which is overun by a wave of generalized violence coming from groups within society and which sometimes highjack the govts control over some of the forces of order, (Mexico) and a directed and systemic violence which the govt itself pursues against its opponents as a matter of policy (Venezuela)

  23. Venezuela today is officially a “threat to US national security.” Those are the words of the Pentagon. If you start to believe for a minute that you are better informed than the Pentagon about Venezuela then hats off to you. The awareness is there all the way to the highest level. The screws are being tightened.

  24. As a Venezulean-American: Our CIA has kept us safe. After 9/11, we where lost. Nobody knew what to do. It was CIA paramilitaryt crack teams that went into Afghanistan to start the airstrikes against Taliban. The bravest of the brave. It was the CIA that nabbed all the 9/11 suspects. It was the CIA that found Bin Laden. We are very fortunate to have Brennan in charge. Obama certainly thinks so. I cannot believe your comments. Save it for some other blog.

    • Try not to forget that the CIA failed us miserably in a massive way, by bending too intense pressure from Bush-Cheney and giving them the intelligence reports they wanted on Iraq, which enabled them to take the US to a war of choice that turned out to be the biggest foreign policy disaster in American history. That particular gift keeps on giving.

  25. Diane Fieldstein is one wicked bitch. Le paso factura a la CIA porq le espiaron. That report should not have come out but it did and it was flawed. Totally one sided. Did not even bother asking the other side. Off course torture works.

    • Just out of curiosity, what is the “other side of the story” of anally raping a man and forcing his dinner up his rectum?

      If the test for whether torture is legal and justified is whether it yields information, then we are living in the moral and legal universe of Nicolas Maduro and friends.

  26. In Venezuela, a preferred method of torture by the security forces is asphyxiation with a plastic bag over your head. In Venezuela, they use all the enhanced interrogation techniques and more. They use electricity and cigarretes as well. Many have been tortured to death.

  27. In Venezuela, they rectally probe you with the end of an assault rifle. I never saw outrage from FT when that happened. And it happens a lot. They sodomize you in prison while the guards do nothing.

  28. “I think the Venezuelan government knows this. They crave the attention, and by joining in Russia and China’s rejection of western norms, Venezuela is hoping, willing itself into relevance.”

    This isn’t highschool, you fucking failure.

    Infodium is nothing compared to what I’m going to do to you.


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