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.