The ex-presidents club


Ramo verdeThree former Latin American Presidents – Andres Pastrana of Colombia, Felipe Calderón of Mexico, and Sebastián Piñera of Chile – were in Caracas in the last few days to attend a Citizens’ Congress organized by Maria Corina Machado, VP, Ledezma, and various other groups.

The visit caused quite a stir in Venezuela when Pastrana and Piñera were preventedfrom visiting Leopoldo López in his Ramo Verde cell. This prompted the exes to let loose on Maduro. All of them basically said Venezuela was not a democracy and Leopoldo López was a political prisoner, with Pastrana going the furthest by questioning Maduro’s nationality.

The maelstrom developed even further when former Costa Rican president and Nobel Prize winner Oscar Arias, who couldn’t attend the event due to illness, wrote a letter blasting the government, basically saying that the chavista era is over.

I don’t buy the hype about this visit too much. Sure, it’s refreshing when former presidents speak out so boldly. Then again, they are no longer in power, so they have little to lose by blasting Maduro and his gang.

What I found interesting is that the visit prompted the Colombian Foreign Office to issue a sharply worded communiqué calling for López’s release. To my knowledge, this is the first time a foreign government does such a thing. Chile’s Foreign Minister, who in the past has blasted the opposition, shyly criticized Maduro, the first time he has done this.

This does not represent a seismic shift in Latin diplomacy yet. However, behind the scenes one continues to hear exasperation at how the Venezuela issue is dominating the regional agenda, how other things get pushed aside to deal with Maduro and his shenanigans, and how governments are feeling pressure from internal factors to either speak out or do something else. In fact, there is one such summitt going on in Costa Rica. Surely Venezuela will be discussed.

Meanwhile, back in the States, the bodyguard story has been confirmed. It’s not yet known what Leamsy is bringing to the table, but if the US government is convinced, and can convince our neighbors, that Maduro’s is a narco-state, then we’re talking a whole different ball game.


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  1. chabismo is a bunch of coward, treacherous, voracious, greedy murderers that are now abandoned by the mastermind who orchestrated the destruction of Venezuela almost sixty years ago.

  2. Since the governments in the region know a lot more than we do, they are already anticipating what may happen and trying to defuse the bomb before it’s too late. That explains their change of stance on Venezuela’s “internal issues”. They know that there’s a deep humanitarian crisis unfolding in the horizon that will impact themselves, and may even affect the stability of the region as a whole. That obviously concerns the US too.

    Let’s ponder for a second on this question: when the failed revolution falls, how will Maduro and Cabello react? We know that evicted dictatorships can only fight their way back to power with a civil war/genocide/mass exile/stravation of the population. Would Maduro and Cabello go that far?

    Maybe we are indeed talking a whole different ball game from now on.

    • Yes indeed. The best way for the opposition to gain politically in a situation like this is to focus all of their contempt on an individual, Maduro. The ex-Presidents did. They got it right. Maduro. Isolate him. Make him the center of the economic crises. That will cause whispering and rumors in the back corridors of Miraflores. What the top Chavista’s DON’T understand yet is that a change of government will do them no good. Have them get rid of Maduro, then watch the domino’s tumble…

      • Not entirely sure of that though. The Egyptian military regime benefited themselves when they pinned the whole situation on Mubarak, even though it only lasted for a year or so.

      • Or in the words of Oscar Arias:

        “The priority mustn’t be to remove a specific person. That is a mistake that other countries have done, ousting leaders whose departure didn’t had an effect on the real situation. The priority should be the democratic institutionalization. What it is indispensable is to reestablish the Rule of Law and the separation of powers. What it is indispensable is to abandon the perverse intrusion of the armed forces in the civilian life. The legitimacy of the opposition must derive from its adherence to certain principles, not from attacks to certain people. It must derive from its commitment to the respect of the institutionalization and from its rejection to use violence as a bargaining chip.”

  3. Add to the body guard story that Tareck’s (also named in the cartel business) bodyguard was found burned and dismembered just last week.

  4. Adding injury to insult, the ex-presidents’ convoy was reportedly stoned by slogan-screaming Chavistas soon after leaving Ramo Verde….

  5. The tide is turning: Mujica said keeping Lopez in prison was “disgraceful” (una desgracia). He is a president.

    Colombia wrote that communique, very clearly.

    One thing: why would Diosdado, a man who has everything, chose to engage in a trade that would put him at risk from America justice forever?

    In other words, motive is lacking in this case.

      • I don’t buy it. He has more money and power than he could ever manage.

        Also, I don’t think he is particularly ambitious: he followed Chavez very loyally, and is following Maduro. An ambitious man would never follow Maduro anywhere.

        • He and Chavez were frequently at odds, but he commanded the armed forces promotions, and Chavez had to calarselo. He isn’t FOLLOWING Maduro, he’s sharing power with Maduro, in a deal brokered by the Castros after Chavez’s death. Whether you buy it or not, the truth will out, and then we’ll see what you have to say….

    • “One thing: why would Diosdado, a man who has everything, chose to engage in a trade that would put him at risk from America justice forever? In other words, motive is lacking in this case.”

      Please allow me to answer this with a fable:

      The Scorpion and the Frog

      A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the
      scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The
      frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion
      says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

      The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
      the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
      paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
      but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

      Replies the scorpion: “Its my nature…”

      • Nah man. Drug dealing is not his thing. He didn’t participate in bank heists like Maduro did, back in the day.

        Maybe it is a betrayal, but not from America, but from his own side.

        Who knows?

        • Even if its not his thing its what people he needs to keep loyal to himself , which are part of his circle of power like to do , so he is wise in giving them the help he can and even in sharing with them the profits from these activities . Its one sure way of keeping them friendly and happy. He is no fool.

        • How much wealth did Cabello have when Chavez came to power and how much does he have now? If it’s changed significantly, where did the money come from? Legal deals? Corruption? Drugs?

    • Agree with Tomate. All of these countries have now sucked Venezuela dry and now they are owed money and Maburro can’t pay… the tune changes. The only principal that this has ever been about for the rest of Latin America is money and making sure every penny has been sucked out of Venezuela.

    • While this may be true to countries like Cuba and the other Petrocaribe associated, I wonder how the same thing can be argued about countries like Chile, Mexico and Colombia. I mean, how was Chile “sucking Venezuela dry” for God’s sake?

      • Venezuela’s lack of manufacturing and production of food, capital flight and even the exodus of PDVSA workers benefited every country in the region.

        • I can’t deny that, Oscar. But that’s different from “sucking Venezuela dry”. Otherwise, we can argue that the US, Canada and Europe “sucked Venezuela dry” too, since most of the Venezuelan brain drain and capital flight are now safely inhabiting this two areas of the world (North America and Europe).

          And since a lot of companies that are selling products to Venezuela are not being paid, we may say that they are the ones being sucked dry by Chavismo.

      • I mean, how was Chile “sucking Venezuela dry” for God’s sake?
        From Chile Major Trade Partners, for 2013.
        Venezuela is Chile’s 14th largest export market, with $1.139830 billion of exports from Chile, representing 1.97% of Chilean exports, which is a 317.99% increase in last 5 years.

        Venezuela ranked 22nd in imports to Chile for $228.04 million, representing 0.53% of imports which is a 31.925% increase in last 5 years.

        Conclusion: while Venezuela has been a minor market for Chilean exports, Chile has recently had a substantial trade surplus, a surplus which has expanded greatly from 2008 to 2013.

        In any event, regarding whether ties of Chavismo with Chile are ideological or commercial, there is a mixed record. Recall Insulza’s performances at the OAS in years back, well before the substantial trade surplus- more ideological than commercial, Of course, former President Pinera didn’t have any ideological ties with Chavismo, as we saw this week. [yes i know there should be a tilda] – yet ran a huge trade surplus. Commercial, but not ideological.

        • Boludo, trade between Chile and Venezuela increased with Chavismo, indeed. But, as you know, the two sides gain when trading. Chile didn’t “sucked Venezuela dry” because it had “run a huge trade surplus”. It would have done it, if it wasn’t offering anything in exchange for the money – as countries like Cuba and some others do -, what was clearly not the case regarding Chile.

          I mean, every year Venezuela runs a huge trade surplus trading with the US. Every year. To say that Venezuela is “sucking the US dry” because of that would be nonsense.

        • The same source gives different results from the Venezuelan side.
          Venezuelan exports to Chile should match Chilean imports from Venezuela, and Venezuelan imports from Chile should match Chilean exports to Venezuela. Or should come close.

          Venezuela exports to Chile $ 1.157,745 billion
          Venezuela imports from Chile $1.142,132 billion

          Venezuelan imports from Chile pretty well match Chilean exports to Venezuela: $1.142 billion versus $1.1398 billion. So that is OK. But there is a huge difference between Venezuelan exports to Chile- $1.157 billion- and Chilean imports from Venezuela- $228 million.
          So I don’t know what to say.

          Interesting that according to this source, Venezuela imported $182 million from North Korea. What in the Sam Hill did Venezuela import from the Norks- assistance in writing Giordani’s speeches?

    • Correct Tomate. The days of Venezuelan largesse are over. Pure and simple, the Maduro regime cannot afford to “buy” governments.

      • Humberto I wouldn’t go as far as to call it “buying governments [paraphrasing here]”. I´d rather call it paying for the “Public International Legitimacy Fee”.

  6. Ex-president of INDEPABIS, Eduardo Samán wants to suspend classes and send all the students to the countryside to plant the fields. I kid you not…

    Fortunately, I don’t think he has any current official role in the government.

    Does this remind anyone else of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge, and the Killing Fields?

    This may be OT, but I believe it is representative of the desperate and mentally unhinged state of Chavismo. People who live in an idealistic false construct that is falling apart and cornered rats have one thing in common– they are both dangerous.

    • When i saw that, it struck me as written by Chiguire Bipolar. This man is so mad that chavismo eliminated INDEPABIS just to throw him aside. He holds no power, fortunately.

      Chavistas, in general sense, are stupid people. But marginated chavistas, these with the pedigree of Saman, Nicmer Evans, Giordani and Rodriguez Torres, are the very definition of deranged madmen.

    • “Does this remind anyone else of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge, and the Killing Fields?”

      The first thing that came to mind.
      I’ve been waiting for something like this.
      An inevitable progession.

    • Well, that worked stupendously well for China…

      On a side note, since Samán and its former employees were thrown out of the INDEPABIS, and the former was latter suppressed by the Superintendency for the Defense of the Socioeconomic Rights (SUNDDE), that institution has become more arbitrary and militarized than ever, to the point where you have to show a power of attorney just to review any case-file from the PUBLIC archive.

  7. There is a shift beginning to show itself in the way other latam govts treat or look at the regime This shift is due to the following :
    1.- Its now abolutely clear that the regime is an absolute economic failure , incapable of even feeding its own people and in the throes of a crisis which is eroding its once unassailable popularity and strenght .
    2.- For the same reason they can no longer expect the economic goodies that it once distributed among its latam friends
    3.- Its violation of basic democratic and civic rights is now flagrant and the object of constant scrutiny and condemnation both by the international press and international bodies or institutions .
    4.- the support it once got from upholding a defiant posture against the US ( always popular in Latin America) is much weakened by the US move to recognize Cuba .
    5.- The oppo has moved well in establishing its democratic credentials among political groups important in other latam countries and in bringing the story of the regime abuses to their attention . The Oppo has increasing credibility in other latam nations . So even where the govt still shows deference to the regime the opposition in each country is pressuring their govts to be more proactive stance against its abuses , this is a brilliant manouver on the part of the oppo .
    6.- Also latam political groups are getting fed up with the manner in which the regime resorts to wild accusations and insults to intimidate anyone taking a position it doesnt like . that may have been effective once , but now its losing its effectivity .

    • I agree with all of the points above. In addition when Chavismo was riding high, they looked like winners and used their clout to bully and abuse those who disagreed with them. Now that they are clearly on the verge of losing, a lot of those who were bullied and humiliated over the years now feel free to speak out and exact their revenge.

      Venezuela may end up serving for the next couple of generations in LatAm as an object lesson on what happens when you let strong-man populists become too powerful.

    • Note also, US Government approaches to wean Caribbean countries off PetroCaribe handouts as demonstrated by VP Joe Biden’s energy conference this week in Washington. Once PetroCaribe is behind them, these countries no longer have to ask “How high?” when Maduro says. “Jump!”…

  8. The fate of Pimenton, Puppet maduro, and all the other secondary characters was already discussed and negotiated betwwen good all Raul and Obama (and spain, Brazil , others) in the terms of their master agreements.

    These guys’s excesses will come to an end as part of the bigger picture, but not without potentially becoming desperate and very damaging to what is left of the Venezuelan nation.

    Animales acorralados!


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