Sobremesa Chronicles

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hovbannerMy petty little rant about the four posts in Prodavinci got me thinking about an issue that has tortured me for a while: what role, if any, should foreigners play in the unfolding Venezuelan tragedy?

We’ve all heard it before: Venezuela’s problems are for Venezuelans to resolve. And while that is a nice little theory, things are rarely so simple in the real world.

We live in a global community. We have international institutions. And internal strife should not always remain internal, for the simple reason that sometimes internal conflicts have no way of solving themselves. When countries are turned upside down, when political conflict threatens to spill over into actual political violence, then the international community must act. Even Nicolás Maduro understands that foreign bodies must play a role in our conflict.

Snobs like me can bitch about foreign analysts meddling into our public sphere, but there is an actual role that foreigners can and need to play in our drama – as long as they inform themselves of the issues. The Venezuelan political crisis is simply not going to be resolved peacefully unless responsible members of the international community (not you, Unasur) intervene.

Leaving Venezuelans to solve our own problems will probably lead to one of two things: a failed state, or a coup. The only people saying that Venezuela can solve its own problems … are the opressors and their propagandists. So, to me, the question is not if foreign bodies should play a role in Venezuela, but which foreign bodies and which roles.

The international community should not leave internal strife on its own because, when it does, disaster ensues. Whether it’s Yugoslavia, Israel, Ukraine, Rwanda, or even Nicaragua in the 1980s, you simply cannot stand by and let a country go to hell, simply alleging “oh, these folks need to solve their own problems.” The world just doesn’t work that way.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

1 COMMENT

  1. Are you out of your mind? No way Juan. Don’t even suggest it. The responsability belongs to the citizens of Venezuela period. The current situation was initiated by Venezuelans, and has to be solved by Venezuelans.

      • Ralph,

        Using the same logic, you can blame the Holocaust on Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt exiling the Jews. Of course current events are shaped by history. But if you accept that the present is inevitable because of past events than the future is also immutable. Free will would have no meaning.

        • You misunderstood me, the current situation of Venezuela, being held by the crown’s jewels, poor as fuck, with a crapload of trouble, was initiated by castro in 1959, when he started to invade Venezuela, first by sending his guerrillas to kill venezuelans in the 60s, then infiltrating the government with his agents in order to seize power, said agents had for mission to prepare venezuelans to accept the cuban invaders as friendly helpers, when they were actually a bunch of parasites.

          All the idiotic hatred for progress, study and meritocracy, the antipolitics brain-gangrene that even today rots some people’s minds, and the brainwashing principles that made possible for chavismo to bolt themselves into power for so long despite being the most incompetent and murderous dictatorship this country has seen? Dude, those could be tracked all the way back to that bastard, it should be clear for now that castro’s goal since he got the power in cuba in the 59 was to take Venezuela’s oil to ensure his economic independence from the URSS.

          • I agree, in general, that Fidel Castro had designs on Cuba. But he was bent on exporting his revolution to all of Latin America. He wasn’t just messing with Venezuela. The list of countries he was involved in fomenting problems in included all of the Caribbean and LatAm. To say that Fidel has been a thorn in the side of the U.S. is putting it mildly. The difference here is that he succeeded. In Venezuela, he found particularly fertile ground for his ideals. The oil rentista mentality made Venezuelans ideal candidates.

            But, none of that means that Venezuela is off the hook. As a country, Venezuela made bad decisions. As a country, Venezuela is suffering for them. It is time for Venezuela to grow up and start making better decisions.

          • There is an analogy between Venezuela and Iraq, two petro-states similiar in size and population. The United States spilled blood and treasure over Iraq. Fidel Castro did not fire a single shot in Venezuela. Futhermore, the Venezuela host paid its invader to invade it. Fifteen years later and the Americans where kicked out by a sovereign Iraq (but they are back in small numbers as advisors). Yes, there where plenty of WMDs in Iraq. I have a good friend (who lived in Maracaibo) exposed to chemical weapons while a member of the U.S. military in Iraq. He’s permanently fucked up. No, we did not take over their oil. That being said, I still support the invasion of Iraq.

            Fidel Castro’s legacy as a military strategist will be the takeover of Venezuela. It was war without fighting a war (in the conventional sense). Easy to do when money is no object and your enemy is distracted.

    • Ese punto de vista es tan estúpido como aquél de “los trapos sucios de lavan en casa” y “en peo de marido y mujer nadie debe meterse”, hasta que sale la mujer con una etiqueta en el pulgar en una foto furtiva de la morgue hacinada del hospital local.

      Marico hay principios que van más allá de la siquitrillada “autodeterminación de los pueblos” y la “soberanía nacional”, ya que cuando el Estado no ejerce su función es un Estado fallido y se supone que en teoría los tribunales y poderes supranacionales existen no como meras cortes de retórica y pleitesía, sino como contrapesos y cotas a la patente de corso que pretenden algunos gobiernos tener excusándose en principios decimonónicos.

  2. Perhaps Juan Nagel has been dinning too often with Pinochetistas in Santiago. This is really shocking: foreign intervention in Venezuela. Like Rwanda? Give me a break! Yugoslavia? (never mind the mess)
    Israel?
    It is really embarrassing. I hope not too many foreigners read this post.

    • Coming to someone’s blog and accusing them of being a PInochetista is like going to someone’s house and taking a dump in their front lawn.

      It’s even worse when you consider that what you mean by “foreign intervention” (i.e. military) is not at all what I’m suggesting. But I simply don’t have the energy to fight your straw men.

      • No, that is not what you mean but 1) you have never, ever explained how things would work out (apart from utterly fluffy statements about the international community having to do something and 2) the examples you mentioned are extreme and refer to cases where massive violence has taken place directly – DIRECTLY – from the actions of the parts involved in an open struggle – as opposed to the massive decomposition of society through the complex problem of general crime -. In the second case you don’t explain to us why the international community is not intervening now in several dozen countries in Africa, several dozen countries in Asia but it should in Venezuela

        • sometimes, Kep, ‘utterly fluffy statements’ are needed to promote dialogue on a very sensitive topic. Juan has achieved his goal, as these not-so-fluffy comments indicate, including yours.

    • Perhaps Juan Nagel has been dinning too often with Pinochetistas in Santiago.

      Perhaps Kepler needs to better inform himself on Chilean history. The coup had substantial support outside the military. Three weeks before the coup, the Chamber of Deputies passed by a 81-47 vote- a strong 63% majority- a resolution which is often called the Declaration of the Breakdown of Chile’s Democracy. After the Declaration enumerated Allende’s violations of Chilean law and Constitution, it called for the intervention of the Armed Forces. Allende correctly stated that the Declaration promoted a coup.
      Former Presidents Videla, Frei, and Allesandri supported the coup. Patricio Aylwin, deeply involved in writing the Declaration, supported the coup. Patricio Aylwin later led the campaign for the winning NO vote in the 1988 Referendum , and was later the first elected President after Pinochet.
      Could the oppo get a 60% vote in the Venezuelan Assembly? No. The Chilean oppo to Allende was much more powerful than today’s Venezuelan oppo. Your analogy to Chile seems rather tone deaf. I suggest you read How Allende Destroyed Democracy in Chile. José Piñera’, the author, is the brother of the former President of Chile who unsuccessfully tried to visit Leopoldo Lopez in prison not long ago. Also worth reading is James Whelan’s book Out of the Ashes. Life, Death and Transfiguration of Democracy in Chile, 1833-1988 .

      If you wish to cast blame for Pinochet’s coup, I suggest you look at the members of the Chamber of Deputies who voted for the Declaration.

      • Actually: I know everything you mentioned here.

        You don’t get it.

        You start with a “Videla-Frei” action and you end up releasing the forces that do a Pinochet.

        You can’t then say “Allende started it all” because few will buy it, particularly after all the violence that will follow.

      • Kepler, when you jump in with a one-sentence “Pinochetista” reference on a thread that is about foreign input into Venezuela, it is not a far-fetched conclusion that you were coming from the “Allende was a victim of the US” POV. I thus supplied “coup made in Chile” documentation.
        Yes, many civilians, such as ex-President Frei, who supported the coup later had profound disagreements with Pinochet. They were expecting 6 months, not 16 years, of military government.

    • Quizás los más del millón de cadáveres del genocidio practicado por los hutu a los tutsi en Ruanda no merecía la intervención internacional, total eran unos negros de mierda que a nadie le importan; lo mismo diría de los 250mil venezolanos muertos por la delincuencia amparada por el Estado, ya sea por acción u omisión en los 16 años de democracia participativa y protagónica. De repente cuando la peste toque a tu puerta entonces ahí clamarás ayuda de los demás, o quizás no, quizás es que vives cómodamente en Doral o Weston…

      • On the contrary and your statement is incredibly racist pretending to be “the one who cares for the black”,just utterly hypocritical.

        The developments in Venezuela have been dramatic, but there is a degree of difference.

        You have one million people killed almost in a few weeks in a process openly managed by a group of people against an ethnicity.
        You are comparing that to the increase of the murder rate due to negligence and incredibly corruption but also to a myriad of other factors.

        That is absolutely stupid and irresponsible and I have been denouncing the horrible attitude of the Chavista regime regarding crime for years (you can see on my blog how I discuss all statistics and I keep stats on murder per month per municipio).

        If the murder rate had only kept to 19 x 100000 we would have had ONLY 60000 murders in that time.
        So you are saying we have to have a foreign intervention because there were 150 000 murders more?
        And you can prove the only reason for that increase has been the regime? Is it the only reason or 50%?
        Or is it 60% Do you know the murder rate also increased dramatically in Mexico – albeit not as high-, in Guyana, in Jamaica?
        Do you know anything about the development of the percentage of men between 19 and 35 years across time in Venezuela?
        Have you read Dorothy Kronick’s writings on crime in Venezuela?

      • “…lo mismo diría de los 250mil venezolanos muertos por la delincuencia amparada por el Estado, ya sea por acción u omisión en los 16 años de democracia participativa y protagónica…”
        Como dije antes, en Venezuela será casi imposible responsabilizar directamente al chavismo de masacrar a la población (250 mil asesinatos en un país de 30 millones sí me lo parece), porque utilizaron el método que castro usó en cuba, que fue emplear a los criminales como ejército contra la disidencia y la población en general, a diferencia de otros dictadores que enviaron a sus fuerzas armadas a hacer el trabajo sucio.

  3. I think it a cost benefit analysis problem for the international actors.

    For example, there is a clear universal consensus that North Korea is plain evil, yet no one is willing to make it fail, the Chinese subsidize it supposedly for their desire of stability in the region while the western powers are not willing to take it out militarily and deal with the aftermath (Iraq anyone?). So as long as they don’t nuke some Japanese city, they will be left alone to do their crazy thing.

    In the case of Venezuela, there is still enough Fear-Uncertainty-Disinformation (FUD) that some hard core lefties still believe in the noble savages governing the place and will wave the flag of “auto determinacion de los pueblos” (quote from my french socialist uncle). For the most reasonable crowd out there it is not worth their trouble to get involved.

    At the end of the day, we just enter the pantheon of the banana republics of Zimbabwe, Iraq, Iran, Cuba and as long as we don’t spill over our borders (even with our, ‘so coveted oi’, as I was thought in school in Venezuela), they don’t give a shit.

    Esta cagada la pusieron los Venezolanos solitos, ahora les toca limpiarla solitos.

    • Pero … si somos tan poco importantes, ¿por qué se le dedican horas y horas en las cancillerías de Latinoamérica a la labor de defender a Maduro? No somos irrelevantes para la comunidad internacional. Ya que están preocupados por nosotros, they might as well play a constructive role.

      • Porque en Latinoamérica están proliferando tanto en la izquierda como en la derecha (división anacrónica del espectro de intereses políticos en mi opinión) las dictaduras de tercera generación, aquéllas que amparadas en velos de legalidad, subvierten el estamento social para amañarlo según los intereses de las camarillas gobernantes, vulnerando el equilibro de poderes y minando el concepto de democracia con ilegitimidad de ejercicio. En otras palabras, hacen lo que los vecinos clase media en Venezuela, dejo que los demás hagan desastres e ilegalidades para que no me acusen cuando las pretenda hacer yo. O más simple, son unos alcahuetos.

      • “Se dedican horas y horas…”, apart from Pollux’s comment on the tendency in LA to the new Dictadura/Abusos de La Izquierda, because Venezuela has BOUGHT these countries with cheap oil/promises of same, as well as with substantial imports (Brasil/Uruguay/etc.).

    • “Taking out DPRK military” as a preemptive military strategy is not on the table. Go to Seoul and you’ll know why. The city is within artillery reach. The death toll would be unlike anything we have ever seen.

  4. International opinion or influence can always play a role in deciding the denoument of a difficult political situation , would the US exist if the french had not given a hand to the nascent republic , would the trujillo family have been ousted from R Dominicana is the US and its OAS parters not set up an embargo, Would Venezuela have gained independence absent the help from Haiti , from the British Legion , Chavez understood the importance of international links to push ahead with his agenda , If the regime lacked the help of Cuban advisors and Chinese money and bought lat am support wouldnt they be in a worse situation thatn they are now . Not saying that the heavy baggage doenst have to be carried by Venezuelan nationals but you cant totally exclude the effect of external views and relations.

  5. Nagel is right.

    It is no longer a matter of “who should”, things went too far south in Venezuela, so we need to ask “who CAN” start solving this conflict.

    We all agree, in a romantic almost chauvinist way that “venezuelans should *solve* their own mess”. I don´t think this mess is entirely *our own* when:

    1- Castro controls every single aspect of power management in venezuela. Maduro is just his puppet.
    2- Maduro wasn´t even born here.
    3- Countries who are supposed to criticize chavernment for HR violations are their strongest allies. They even COLLABORATE with maduro via crony-justice. Look at how colombia deported Saleh in a blink. Look at unasur celebrating each and every move maduro does.
    4- Venezuelan state is deeply involved in a drug trade scandal worldwide. Happens that Diosdado Cabello is the new Pablo Escobar on a global scale. Our armed forces are basically a hell of a regional disruptor of the war on drugs.

    This peo is ours but surpass the capacity of the masses of solving it. There is no ammount of protesta/calle/guarimba/marcha that can overthrow a well armed thugocracy whose generals decree “on the spot death penalty” and then declare some “lealtad perruna al proceso”

    PS: We had our chance to start solving this in 2002 only to squander it.

    • Venezuela (the whole country) had plenty of chances to start resolving the problem. It still has more chances coming if Venezuelans are willing to pay the price. But, the cost is rising dramatically.

    • For someone to write these absurdities must mean that he has been briefed by the someone at teh State Dept who knows nothing about Venezuela such as Itii Reich or Jan Psaki. Such mentality begagrs belief – I would guess even that of Nagel.

  6. Let’s agree that there should be some tangible pressure from the international community but nothing can change unless Venezuelans fight for it. If Egyptians were able to oust Mubarak who’s to say that the same thing can’t be done in Caracas?

      • Mubarak was able to consolidate power for three decades with the tacit support of the United States. My point is, if he could be toppled the bus driver certainly can be as well. It’s a shame we choose not to emulate the success arabs have achieved.

      • I disagree with you, James, Mubarak used his armed forces to try to subdue the protesters, that’s why he was sent to trial as soon as he got ousted.

        The wax corpse used the same method as castro: Buying common criminals’s loyalties by offering them total impunity, as long as they were willing to slaughter venezuelans to crush any uprising, the gigantic turd let them do as they pleased, that way he was covering his ass so the blame for the genocide-like crime rates couldn’t be linked to him and to chavismo, as that would’ve meant the instant death and burial of that as a political movement as “just another dictatorship”.

        maburro, or miguel “tiro en la cabeza” torres ordered by diablodiado made the mistake of breaking that rule, by turning their guns against the colectivos, the “unoffical” paramilitary chavista death squads, claiming they were involved in drugs and murders (That might’ve been true, actually I don’t care), they started to kill their own pawns just to prove their authority pran-style and now they have less death squads to deal with protests, and that’s why they came up with the “if you dare to complain, we can kill you if we fucking want to, period” thing.

    • Oh please, yes the same military of Mubarak ousted Mubarak, and they stay there, so do you really think the “people”ousted Mubarak, or let’s say the military , after talking to the US, when they say, Mira chico: te acuerdas de esos milloncitos que les damos en ayuda militar? ah bueno , sigan con la pendeja..Still it was not an intervention, but the relations with foreign countries, have ways to put in perspective for some national actors, the cost of keep el desorden y quilombo

      • You are 100% correct, the military ousted Mubarak. But can we agree that chain of events was made possible by protesters taking to Tahrir Square? I’m just pointing out a lesson we may not have learned yet.

        • ” …protesters taking to Tahrir Square…”

          doing so with the utmost conviction, mass concentration, and above all, deadly seriousness.

          Can you imagine what the results might have been like had the congregation at Tahrir Sq been doing a ‘bailoterapia’ in between their errands and guachafitas?

    • Pedro M – Venezuela has plenty of international support from CELAC, Group of Non-Aligned Nations, Group of 77 plus China, Russia, Unasur, ALBA and so on. This is at least 120 + countries who support us and do not interfere in out internal affairs.
      You forget that Art. 350 allows for the ousting of a dictatorship in Venezuela. Bit since 80% of people voted in the last Presidential elections this can hardly be considered that unless you are a rabid escuálido living in cloud cuckko land?
      Yet another coup attempt was defeated so what next? Oh….I forhot..Maduro has invented all this stuff just as he invented the economic war, smuggling, hoarding and speculation. Correct???

  7. Unless Venezuela’s troubles spill out of the borders and seriously interrupt the rest of the world, I do not foresee any foreign intervention. Condemnation, yes. But, many a government lives on without the world’s approval.

    For me, the most likely trigger for an actual intervention would be millions of refugees streaming across the border into Colombia telling horror stories of starvation and massacres. Obviously, Venezuela is nowhere near such a scenario, even though it is not inconceivable if the government were to survive past 2015.

    So, unless you are willing to wait for “starvation and massacres”, I would suggest that Venezuelans get their act together and start coming up with their own solutions. Uh… like now.

    • “Venezuela’s troubles spill out of the borders and seriously interrupt the rest of the world…”
      One problem that spills out the borders of Venezuela:
      DRUGS, thousands of tons, made by out nice neighbours the only and unique narco-pedo-terrorists the farcs!
      People are quick to say “USA is the biggest coke snorter in the whole world! Ha! They are shit because they buy it!” Well, mr. Smarty Pants, guess where a lot of that shit is coming from.

      • I do not have much sympathy for the U.S. when it comes to drugs. The prohibition of drugs makes as little sense as the prohibition of alcohol. The War on Drugs has been every bit as big of a failure. When artificial barriers are erected to prevent trade, smuggling ensues as inevitably as night follows day. The wealth and power of the narco-criminals is a direct result of the government’s intervention. This ill-considered U.S. (and European) policy is indirectly responsible for the existence of the FARC and the LatAm drug cartels and has done much damage to Latin American countries.

        • You didn’t get my point.

          Drugs are a problem that spills out of the borders and ends affecting other countries in very serious ways, it doesn’t matter that the other countries have “erected ill-considered policies”, cocaine, crack, marihuana and all those shit are addictive stuff that make people crazy, prohibition or not they would be still damaging stuff (I’m not saying either that legalizing would result in nazi-dinosaur apocalypse)

          It’s the same way with cigarettes and alcohol, the fact that they’re legal doesn’t remove the fact that they are addictive, cause irreversible damage to the body and can cause some people to go apeshit.

          • I never said that drugs are not a problem. But, however damaging they may be, it should not be a crime to produce, sell, buy, or use them. It is the prohibition that has created the massive criminal enterprises. Eliminate the legal prohibition, and in one stroke, the drug criminals are out of business. We should treat the drug problem as a health and social problem, just as we do with alcohol and cigarettes.

          • Roy, the one problem with your argument is your’re lumping hard and soft drugs together. You fail to differentiate between pot and cocaine (or crystal meth or extacy). Nobody dies from pot overdose or gets violent. Most people fall asleep after smoking too much. Alchohol and hard drugs on the other hand…addiction from these is destructive. If you want to legalize cocaine then give me reasons and arguments other than decriminalization. You seem to care more about the bad guys than society.

      • Ralph, Venezuela does cultivate amapola, cannabis and coca. Venezuela does final processing for paste that comes from COLOMBIA, PERU AND BOLIVIA. Fact my friend. I think Venezuela is one of the largest per capita consumers of cocaine in the world. Always.

    • there is a trigger for U.S. miltiary action: American citizens residing in Venezuela. If they are held, harmed or killed this could incite military response. The type of response depends. An evacuation of US citizens from the country is one scenario. In Panama Noriega brought on the invasion when he started targeting americans…the school buses for example. Noriega went crazy. It’s not easy to invade another country and Iraq was probably the last time the US invades. A Venezuela scenario would be different more in support of getting americans out. Another scenario is UN peacekeepers. With Russia invading Ukraine, Venezuela becomes a bargaining chip. Anything is possible. I say there’s no rush right now.

  8. Heh, funny how the very mention of having support from another country to solve a problem in Venezuela is seen as a fucking heresy of the worst caliber.
    It seems that people here still has their “patriotero” bone really sensitive even after 16 years of direct cuban colonization.

  9. Uy, there’s lot’s and lot’s to talk about in this topic.

    Firstly, on foreigners talking about Venezuela. As one, I do think we have an interesting role to play. I don’t think you should just dismiss someone’s opinion on Venezuela *just* because they’re foreigners. I do think an outside look can be beneficial, though you cannot treat it as gospel. And I apply this when I talk about Canada, Venezuela or when I listen to foreigners talking about Colombia. Also, the fact that this blog is in English is a way of 1) appealing to foreign opinions and 2) trying to give Venezuelans a bit more distance and a wider perspective, extranjerizándolos un poco, and I stand 100% behind those goals.

    On foreign intervention, I am much more skeptical. Other than the basics of denouncing human rights violations and eventually supporting a new or transition government, I cannot see many ways in which foreign entities can do something that’s actually for the better.

    Going into Colombia specifically, I think it can be very tricky if the Venezuela divide falls along the Santos-Uribe polarization. I am both in opposition to uribismo and chavismo (for similar reasons in some cases) but you cannot gamble rule of law and respect of human rights on another country’s polarization. Santos would be the first one to receive a new Venezuelan president on foreign visits, but he cannot be seen to antagonize Maduro or even worse, on the same side as Uribe.

  10. Foreign involvement would be far easier if the Chavistas were seen as a right wing party. I doubt that any world body would intervene politically with an elected leftist government in Venezuela no matter how fraudulent the election. Obama
    would never raise a finger under these circumstances.

  11. Without foreigners we wouldn’t be in this mess.

    Cuban security and in intelligence apparatus is the backbone of the regime and dictates its policy.

    South American presidents have given unflinching support to the regime, shielding it from pressure.

    At the same time, only abroad, if ever, we will find justice: the International Criminal Court is our only hope, our own courts have never worked.

    Without outlets like The Economist, ABC, BBC, and The New York Times we would know less of what’s going on in Venezuela.

    One post ago this blogger declared foreigners are unnecessary to Venezuelans, now he says they are indispensable and Venezuelans can’t figure out their own country.

    Make up your own mind.

    • Of course foreigners have played a role in making this mess, and could lend a hand to fix it…but sometimes Venezuelans are their own worst enemies,even though it is true that Venezuelans have to do the largest part.

      • “Of course foreigners have played a role in making this mess” – ask the Libyans, Syrians, Iraquis and Afghans the same question and I think it is a racing certainty that “USA” will be mentioned.

        • Yep. USA will be mentioned in Irak (but not in Syria), no doubt. But in Venezuela no one will say “USA”… except the very high officials, and even them travel to the US every time they have a chance.

        • I do so enjoy being the very embodiment of every Baby Che’s nightmare. It feels groovy being the man. We also control the vertical, the horizontal, the Harina Pan supply and all the whiskey.

          All your bases baby!

          LOL

    • The money comment:
      “One post ago this blogger declared foreigners are unnecessary to Venezuelans, now he says they are indispensable and Venezuelans can’t figure out their own country.

      Make up your own mind.”

      True, do we want them to intervene? We can’t even decide! And when they do, or they don’t, we bitch..

      • But, that’s what made this “Sobremesa” topic so interesting. Juan admitted that he is indecisive on this issue. I have heard conflicting opinions from several people on this blog. In fact, with a few exception, the whole world is indecisive on this issue. Everyone sees the need, but doesn’t want it to apply to them. We all want cops to police the traffic, but we don’t want to get a ticket if we cut that corner too fast.

  12. Juan,

    A country asking for foreign intervention is like a kid coming home and telling his parents that he needs to move back in because he couldn’t swing it in the real world. In this case, if I were the “parents”, I would apply some tough love and tell Venezuela, “No. You haven’t failed yet. You can still do this. Now, get back out there and make it work.”

  13. I was wondering what are the limits of popular sovereignty , if 90% of Venezuelans voted to become part of Brasil , would the fusion of Venezuela to Brasil be legitimate ?. What if 51% voted to become part of Brasil , would that also be legitimate ?. If in 1936 90% of Germans voted in favour of the mass murder of all jews , would that have been a legitimate act of sovereignty so that no foreign country could do anything to prevent that mass murder .?? what if the percentage of votes had been 51%.? If a country is ruled by a corrupt murderous dictatorship that massacres and oppresses its own people , does the principle of sovereignty mandate that no other country try to topple it to save the country from that dictatorship. ?? .these questions must have a logically defensible answer , or do they ?? We all write as if these topics where cristal clear and not intrinsically ambivalent and uncertain .!! and yet……..

    • I guess the Brazilians should express their consent as well, don’t you think?

      And anyway, why should any country want to join Brazil? that tasteless, vulgar quagmire?

      One historical note here: the Germans did not vote for the Holocaust, which was a “secret” undertaking. They did abet it, but that is different.

      Other thing: Germany didn’t vote for Hitler, he ended up chancellor because of parliamentary numbers.

      I think the example you want is that of the Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia in the late 70s, which was a corrupt genocidal dictatorship and was toppled by the Vietnamese army.

      Case in point, our country, has a government elected, re-elected and re-re-re-elected by the people. Why should any foreigner have the right to stop this sado-masochistic orgy that most people enjoy?

      Anyway, most Venezuelans are in the beach now, drinking and fornicating in the hot weather; we should worry about something else.

      • Alejandro :Sorry if I mislead you , my questions were more in the nature of a ‘thought experiment’ , and at no time they purport to be based on actual facts . there is however one factual correction which maybe needs clarification , the germans were given the chance on Hindenburgs death to vote on whether to merge the offices of Reichs Chancellor and President thus raising Hitler to total power , by an onverwheming mayority they did , Of course the Brazilians would have to vote too as did the Austrians when Germany voted the unification between both countries. Not surpringly 99.9% agreed . But again the questions were purely hypothetical , meant to elicit an answer based on the analysis of abstract principles , nothing more .!!

        I too feel sometimes inclined to humorous cynicism of the ‘life is a joke’ variety but in this case I would have hoped for something deeper from you, in my view you do have the analytical capacity for it . !!!

      • Alejandro – “Case in point, our country, has a government elected, re-elected and re-re-re-elected by the people. Why should any foreigner have the right to stop this sado-masochistic orgy that most people enjoy?” – Alhtough this comment stlinks of cynicism it is quite true and serves to remind the ex pats who comment here that the government has won 18 out of 19 national electoral contests – although almost all of them will say that they were all fraudulent no matter what Crter, Unsur, OAS and EU say.

        • Uff, I don’t think the government won in 2013. They never recounted, never submitted to an independent audit.

          So don’t heave your chest so noisily, don’t puff so hard, you may end up farting and smelling you own fart.

        • Outright fraudulent, no. But extremely unfair, yes. That said, the regime would have won most of those elections in a relatively fair environment, but not so much after 2007 or 8.

    • You ask some very good questions. Let us look at the questions in terms of private individuals. Suppose your neighbor is a bully who is beating his wife and children? At what point do you intervene? The very first time you see the wife with a black eye? Probably not… you call the cops, and she says, “Oh, I ran into the door.”, while looking fearfully at the husband. Eventually, when the disturbances become so great that the majority of the neighborhood can no longer ignore them, something gets done.

      Human beings are social animals and “no man is an island.” Unless one lives as a hermit in a cave somewhere far from civilization, we are all part of a society. As such, one accepts the benefits and protections of living as part of a society and gives up a portion of one’s personal liberties in return. It used to be generally considered that “a man’s home is his castle” and inside he is sovereign. This works when homes are spaced so far apart that what happens inside can be easily ignored. However, as populations increase and people live closer together, the rules of acceptable behavior become stricter, and the means of enforcing such standards become more sophisticated.

      So, we can say that even in the case of private individuals, there are no “crystal clear and not intrinsically ambivalent” answers. It should not be a surprise that these issues become even more complex when applied to nations.

      It has only been in the last century that humans have attempted to codify rules for and regulate the acceptable behavior of all the nations of the world. Obviously, we still have some ways to go before we can call that experiment successful. So long as nations do not share the same cultures and values, the success of these attempts will always fall short of perfection. But, as in many things, just because we cannot make it perfect, should not sway us from the attempt to make it better.

      And now, have written all that as a preface, has Venezuela reached the point at which the neighbors should ban together and intervene with force? My “gut” says, “Not yet.” But, I do think that when Leopoldo Lopez was jailed, we passed the point at which public condemnation from the civilized world and in particular the LatAm community of nations became the appropriate and moral action.

      • When sovereignty was vested in the figure of a monarch it tended to be seen as absolute , when it was transferred to the People a big question remained in that while the will of a single person is easy to define when sovereignty is vested on a monarch it is much more difficult to define when it is vested on a plurality of people divided by many different interests , opinions etc . The rule was then adapted that for practical purposes basic decisions would be those which a mayority favoured provided that where such decision were specially important the minority view would still have a strong role in deciding what was to be decided .In short sovereignty does not grant the mayority an absolute authority but one which it must try and reconcile with that of those which are nor part of that mayority . This is the cornerstone principal of liberal democracy . IIn short sovereignty is not an absolute but a relative concept which robustness depends on how large and important is the minority which it shares that sovereignty with . If sovereignty is marred by dividisions and fractures within the public which are deep and stark then it may encounter limits in its legitimacy which allow room for foreign intervention .

        One area where sovereignty is commonly declared to have a limit is where it has to do with a sovereign regimes respect and observance of basic human rights . Venezuelas constitution in fact declares that where an international convention provides for human rightswhich are not born of an internal legislative effort , the latter are considered abrogated by the former. In other words international human rights conventions have a higher standing in Venezuelan law than those rules born of internal legislative decisions . So to the extent this regime or any other incurrs in breach of the human rights of its citizens it cannot invoke its sovereignty as a defense against the corrective interference of international bodies acting according to such conventions .

        The practical obstacle to this rule of modern international conventions is that govts want to have an easy time of their international relations and feel within their comfort zones when they do nothing to protect the human rights of the citizens of other countries , if additionally they get cheap oil supplies in exchange for their tolerance the incentive is even greater not to do anything about it.

        There are lots more to comment on this subject but it wont fit the space which we are alloted in this blog .

        • B.B., The development of the Democratic Constitutional Republic has come a long ways in attempting to codify the relationship between individuals and the state. But, the the work of codifying and enforcing the relationships between nations and the mutual obligations incurred has only just begun.

          And, you are right… huge subject!

          I tried to apply it to the issue of the Post. The problem becomes that although the various conventions on Human Rights exist, there is no enforcement mechanism. As it stands now, violations are only prosecuted sporadically and subject to political expediency. No significant nation will currently agree to judged by the international institutions as they currently exist. Basically, no action will be taken until the country in question is already a basket case.

          Note that I am not arguing for the U.N to have more power. As it exists now, I don’t trust it. But, maybe one day, we will be able to increase international cooperation to the degree that it becomes possible for the world to be more proactive in sniffing out fires and putting them out before they become a conflagration that cannot be ignored.

          • Thanks Roy for your very balanced and intelligent comment .Whatever the lack of reliable international enforcement mechanisms at least there is a growing recognition of the principle that sovereignty does not protect delinquent despotic miscreants from the possibility of legal condemnation. !! If thats the case then as a matter of moral principle the notion that external intervention is taboo because sovereignty precludes it is no longer defensible . I would add that viscerally the idea that foreign agencies should ve free to act to restore human rights in ordinary circumstances is distasteful to most of us , but where the miscreant govt has closed all doors to an institutional possibility of a regime change then options not otherwise palatable start appearing as justifiable . We may be getting close to such a situation .!!

          • B.B., Thanks. I appreciate the compliment, especially coming from you.

            I don’t usually write as much as I did today. Stuck at home nursing a cold…

  14. One thing that is easy for us to lose sight of is the relative unimportance of Venezuela and its problems in the larger context of what is going on this world at present. To most of us, Venezuela is of paramount interest, for one reason or another. We are Venezuelans, we live here, we have financial interests here, or we are serious political policy wonks with a morbid proclivity for watching train wrecks. Whatever our reasons, many of the people participating in this blog spend an inordinate amount of time on the issue of Venezuela, sometimes to the exclusion of “big picture”. To illustrate this, please review the transcript of yesterday’s (Friday, 13 Feb. 2015) U.S. State Department Press Briefing:

    http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/02/237501.htm

    The Briefing lasted for 52 minutes and covered a wide range of events and topics in the world. Included in this was a statement denying Maduro’s recent claim that the U.S. was behind (once again) a coup attempt against Maduro’s government. The transcript is a long page. You will find the question about Venezuela about eight tenths of the way down the page. The total time devoted to Venezuela was about 2 minutes out of 52 minutes, and most of that was an amusing clarification of a general policy statement not specifically related to Venezuela. There was no follow up nor interest from the press on the actual issue of Venezuela.

    We and Venezuela have to understand and accept that we are just not all that important.

    • agree. Uncle Sam is just not into Vennie, after she turned into the date from hell, unlike the more cooperative Collie. But especially after he expanded his own sources of oil and realized that on a cost-benefit basis, it was no longer worth doing much business with a volatile and unpredictable associate. There was also the issues of human rights, encroaching dictatorship, and being made into a scapegoat that turned Vennie into a case of the clap.

      So I understand completely Uncle Sam’s disinterest.

      • You depict the relationship between the country you now reside in as a player that fucks the emotional female personification of the place you came from, among other choices like Colombia.

        Absolutely no one is going to respect you besides expat fuck ups that can relate with your shitty attitude.

        • Although “dspur” was being deliberately rude and argumentative (as usual) he did highlight the point that alliances between nations occur from neither amorous nor brotherly love. “Nations do not have friends — they have interests.”

      • Who said the US was disinterested? You said that. Did they say that? Where did they say that? Do you know who met with Biden at the WH recently? Do you know who was in the WH at that moment? Hint: everyone.

  15. Great Comments form Everyone! CC you started a great discussion. All is good and yes Venezuela does have to solve some it’s own problems. That being said they have meaning the “Chaborro and lack of Hair” bunch have created so many more of their own and drawn so many others into the fight.

    No the US will not sit idle and let them be mass cocaine exporters. Do they have shit for fucking brains? What stealing all of the oil import dollars and your little ponzi scheme of an exchange system was not enough? Apparently not and these Pendejos are fucking with the wrong sister here.

    The Castros sided up with the US on the quiet and should make some demands of them. Bevis and Butthead just got louder in Venezuela. Yet still more stupid and more feces added to the drug addled, paranoid shit for brain leadership.

    These morons, have no clue and not a iota of sense on how the game is played. But they will be shown soon. I our beloved Hero’s George W”s accent… “We’ll be seeing Ya”

    • Marques, with all due respect, the Cubans are giving the Americans a hard time. Don’t you think it’s a little early to be coming to conclusions? I would rather wait a few years before passing judgement.

  16. In modern political practice some see all govt crimes depredations and abuses as condonable and justified if the regime perpetrating them has however fraudently won past elections , as if somehow the mantle of a ‘won’ election absolves a regime from guilt for its misdeeds and despotic excesses .

    This is evidently absurd and untenable , popularity real or faked , contrived or spontaneous cannot transform a crime into something to be justified and celebrated , specially where elections are won by a fringe mayority using fraudulent or corrupt methods .

    My past question as to whether Hitler would have been justified in perpetrating the genocide of European jewry because 51% of germans had approved it in a special poll, was intended to bring home the above truth. which Chavista fanatics attempt to deny or ignore claiming that popularity can serve as a magic moral detergent to cleanse the regime of any of its excesses and failures .

    Increasingly codified International public principles have now put a limit to the notion that popular sovereignty can be invoked to protect a regime from being held culpable from human right abuses or for crimes that affect the welfare of the world such as aiding and abetting drug trafficking . The mechanism for enforcing the penalization of these crimes is yet imperfect , but there is a definitive movement towards making them more effective .

    For years a regime may perpetrate and foster this kind of crimes without anything happening , but as time passes they become more and more vulnerable to outside condemnation and attack as conditions make it possible for the world to take notice of their abuses and as circumstances make it more practical for something effective to be done about it. This is the reason why the Regime in Venezuela is so desperate in seeking to absolve it self from the condmenation of UN bodies or International Human Right organizations by seeking shelter in the cheap support of farsical largely inoperant clubs of govts that cater to the colly modling of their own internal narcicisms.

    China does not support the Regime , it supports the protection of its own geopolitical business interests in Venezuela , they probably have already talked to the opposition to make sure that if the regime changes their interests will not be unduly affected. Russia is only interested in making a show of anti us stances to make Putin popular in Russia with the masses of nostalgics for past soviet glories . Russia , Iran and other remote international allies of the regime are facing severe problems of their own both economic and political that make them incaoable of helping the regime in any meaningful mannner.

    In Latin America and the US the tone used to answer the regimes comedic conspiratorial skits is growing increasingly sharp and impatient, when the US says that latin america finds those skits and accusations of the regime risible and absurd its because they see toothless moribond regime that latin american govts no longer pay any attention to . Colombia officially calls for the liberation of LL as have other interntional bodies , The regimes of Brazil and Argentina are facing very difficult times portending a moment when their support will either dissapear or become totally.desolutory .

    The crazed extravagant antics of poor Mr Maduro are such that they have made him and his regime ( as Mr Giordani has so aptly said ) the laughing stock of the world !!

    • Good summary, B.B.

      The corruption and abuses of this regime cannot be excused merely because it was elected. As someone aptly put it once, democracy is two wolves and sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Venezuela is a “constitutional republic”, not a “democracy”. The constitution defines the rights and obligations of its citizens and the limitations of what its government may and may not do. This government has repeatedly and blatantly broken the rules of its constitution, and those actions by themselves have abrogated the government’s constitutional legitimacy.

      To me, the Opposition strategy of insisting on a “constitutional” solution is in denial of the facts as they exist. It would be more honest, and perhaps more effective to state publicly, that they no longer recognize the legitimacy of the Chavista regime, on the basis of the regime’s own actions in breaking faith with the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

      It may be incumbent upon foreign nations to also end the charade and declare that they no longer recognize Venezuela as a “constitutional republic”, but as a dictatorship. There is value in “calling a spade a spade”, and in removing the veils of legitimacy that cover up the truth.

  17. It would help if Samper would NOT support Maduro’s claims of being target of coup attempts. Or is Samper playing along for some reason. Either way, what a jerk, lending his support for his paisano. And who in their right mind would use a Tucano to attempt a coup. How about a scud missile? Or a radio-controlled quadcopter with laser beams? Seriously, Maduro shows his ignorance and growing paranoia in remarkable ways. I’d feel sorry for him if he wasn’t a hindrance to progress.

  18. The United Nations should pass a non-binding resolution suggesting a series of tests to determine the aptitude and suitability of a given politician for a leadership position: (1) an IQ test (2) A test of general knowledge including areas such as history, geography, political science, micro and macroeconomics, mathematics, technology, engineering and natural sciences (3) a medical examination including a psychiatric evaluation (4) a standard questionnaire addressing opinions on common issues such as religion (including the ability of inanimate and various lifeforms to transmit information from the afterlife), global warming, the cause of various historical and political events.

    It strikes me that politics is the path of least resistance, if the goons in the chavista leadership had been talented at anything but hablar paja they would have chosen more useful career paths and spared us the torment.

  19. It would help if we had more of these galvanized pronouncements (listen to the livestream of Chuo Torrealba) to nullify any thoughts of foreigners coming to Vzla as potential assistants to the clean-up the mess created by a now majority-despised dictatorship, on a political, economic and practical basis.

    • I can understand why Chuo would proclaim his patriotic fervor by denying foreigners any role in a Venezuelan reconstruction, but, in practice, why would you deny them? What reward could such protectionism possibly have?

      • It disappoints deeply me to hear populism combated by more populist rhetoric. In practice, Venezuela will need a lot of foreign investment, and the sources of that investment will be in a very good position to dictate terms. Until such time as Venezuela’s domestic productivity is restored and its debt is paid down to a healthy and sustainable level, Venezuela will be dependent upon and beholden to foreign companies and powers. The path toward regaining Venezuela’s independence will be “rolling up its sleeves and getting to work.”

    • For clarity’s sake, I posted the link of Chuo Torrealba’s pronouncements to counter Juan’s position, which seemed to half-heartedly lean in the direction of dependence on foreigners to do the monumental clean up of the disaster that has long been this Government. With the oppo/majority of the country rendered practically mute and passive, and a regime favoured by sociopaths, incompetents, and the direction-less, it is heartwarming to know that some direction, some strength still exists at the MUD. And it’s this direction and strength that will be necessary in future to ensure cooperative arrangements, always with nationals in the lead of any projects involving the international community. Naturally, I’m assuming that elections later this year will be fair, transparent, and reflective of the on-the-ground realities.

  20. For argument’s sake, and assuming that (a) the tide is really turning; and (b) the regime will allow it, I believe that cooperative arrangements with the international community to help Venezuela gain a semblance of true economic health, must not occur before the national cleansing of the legal system, that is, to ensure transparency and fairness. Put another way…
    “Aung San Suu Kyi said that strengthening the country’s legal system is the best way of boosting its economy… Without Rule of Law, nothing will be achieved…” http://www.wsj.com/articles/myanmars-suu-kyi-strong-legal-system-can-boost-economy-1423927919

  21. Rule of Law is the hardware but it wont do any good if the software, i.e the group of people who must administer it arent there , both well organized and prepared , you cant improvise the organizations , they have to be there to make a difference !! But even outside the Rule of Law sphere the country is so messed up that you will need to bring external organizations not just for their investments or ‘technology’ but because their organizational cultures and capabilities will serve as schools to train people to be effective and perform well. Its not just the leaders , it goes much beyond that , we must create meritocratic schools of excelence and thats not about beautiful abstract ideals and noble characters or great leaders . We need more Iesas ,at least two more , and at least half a dozen USB, and oil companies that know how things are done . We need more Polars .

    Its the organizations , their expertise , their corporate culture , the way they train and make people learn to work together effectively on a continous basis that makes a difference . We put too much trust in grand leaders and grand ideals and honest behaviour and academic preparation and in formal laws but that not how countries grow and become developed . Its the building of organizations that work and form people to be effective and that work culture that allows men to rise to their best potential . .

    • B.B.,

      I agree, but you are talking corporate culture and institutions. In order to have “Rule of Law”, the institutions of government need to be rebuilt. That means the AN, TSJ, CNE, BCV, FAN, and several other acronyms. And that is only the federal government. It is going to take a long time for Venezuela to build truly non-partisan and professional institutions. This cannot be done by foreigners. And the job will have to be well underway BEFORE foreigners will start trusting and investing in Venezuela again.

      I suspect that most Venezuelans will only realize and understand the extent of the damage done once they are confronted with the task of rebuilding.

      • I agree Roy except that for instance in the business corporate organization area and in the educational area the way to learn is by having working organizations (foreign) serve as a vehicle to teach us how things are done effectively and also having our people learn their culture and adapt it to our own circumstance .

        tree , what the Korean rep of a textile company in Bangladesh did by sending a group of local textile workers to work in Korea for a year ,so that when they came back they applied what they had learned and founded a whole host of textile business which are now a world class industry , a big player in international textile markets.

        Second , what Kazahkstan dictator is doing by setting up world class universitities to give the locals the best university education possible , hiring at high wages top knotch lecturers from all over the world ( I know a retired former UCV prof who was hired at a princely salary to teach at this university ) .

        Third the international oil companies in Venezuela that brought into the country and built up during decades corporate organizations to rival the best in the world .

        Im always afraid that too sensitive a local narcicistic inferiority complex has us reject foreigh assitance and help when we most need it and have us assumme anti foreigh stances simply out of fear that our own flaws as a people may stand revealed . .

        • B.B., I see what your long-term vision is on this, and it is a noble one. But, I must caution you, when it comes to changing and modernizing cultures, there is such a thing as “too far, too fast”. The Shaw of Iran made that mistake and look how that turned out… massive cultural backlash at modernization. That mistake is still haunting the world to this day.

          However, your ideas made me think of another initiative that whatever new government we get should start. Venezuela already has a million or more expatriates scattered all over the world, who have been immersed in various other cultures for years. The new government should immediately launch a campaign to convince as many Venezuelan expats as possible to return to Venezuela, by offering incentives as attractive needed to accomplish the task.

          • I totally get your point Roy and share the same concerns of going too fast too soon, my own idea is to create small islands of excellence here and there in strategic areas and give them a chance to grow and start colonizing the countrys institutions ‘ step by step. Like an oil spot that starts small and grows bigger . I am thinking in terms of decades . When I refer to the Culture I dont mean that of the country as a whole , but the one specific to each organization or corporation or working institution . First you create models and then you foster conditions that allow for them to be copied by other organizations borrowing from the practices and customs of the best. Its been done before , but it does take time and constant support .Also shun the expectation of perfect results , be modest and pragmatic and give room for mistakes to be made but always trying to learn from past experiences to slowly but steadily improve the insitutions performance .

  22. A unique situation in Venezuela. The miliary-petro-narco-state has hit the wall. For the first time ever, the United States has sealed indictments for narcotics trafficking against senior leadership. We are at a crossroads. Venezuela is now higher on the priority list. This does not mean indictments will be unsealed.

    Chavistas play by “the rules of the prison yard”: Any sign of weakness is an invitation to further aggression. Only resolute counterforce can alter this behavior.

    I do not see fissures or fractures in the Venezuelan military or security apparatus meaning no coups on the horizon

    • “I do not see fissures or fractures in the Venezuelan military or security apparatus…”

      I wonder how true that is? I don’t doubt the loyalty of the General/Admiral classes of the military. But, how solid is the loyalty of the lesser ranks? I do not have the answer to that question. Anyone?

  23. The whole “foreigners off” idea is absolutely disingenuous. Specially coming from Nicolás “I went to China and Rusia to beg for money” Maduro.

    Of course there is a role that foreing governments and institutions will have to play to help Venezuela recover from this whole mess. That doesnt mean that the root of the issue is for Venezuelans to solve, or that it means foreign troops or foreing support for a coup or whatever. The country is going to need money, expertise, support, good friends abroad and a lot of other things from outside to be at hand for whatever Venezuelan solution comes out.

  24. El benemérito ha dado la orden de organizar una exposición en Madrid para mostrar “los logros de la revolución bolivariana”.

    http://economia.elpais.com/economia/2015/02/16/actualidad/1424079737_735877.html

    Propongo humildemente un concurso abierto para escoger lo más sobresaliente de estos últimos dieciséis años.

    Comienzo:

    1) Las más de 200.000 muertes violentas, con 91% de impunidad, que ha sufrido Venezuela desde 1999.

    2) El sistema penitenciario venezolano, que incluya vídeos de Iris Varela hablando por televisión.

    2) Un gráfico tamaño gigante y en 3D con la evolución del precio del dólar 1999-ahora, incluyendo las “tres tasas” de los últimos años pintadas con los colores patrios.

    3) La tumba del SEBIN (modelo a escala 1:1 para curiosos, niños gratis hasta los doce años)

    4) Una selección de los mejores discursos de Antonio Maduro, también en 3D, emitida continuamente.

    5) Una muestra “hands-on” de los logros científicos y tecnológicos conseguidos en la UNEFA y la Universidad Bolivariana.

    6) Un concierto dirigido por Gustavo Dudamel, el gilipollas de oro.

    7) Otro de música pop. Estrella principal, la hija de Diosdado, que aun no conoce Madrid.

  25. Depending on which development bank’s data you check, Venezuela’s economy represented 8-9% of LatAm’s in 2014.
    Setting aside valid and interesting arguments of sovereignty, rule of law, etc, I can’t help but wonder – can our neighbors collectively, can the region, really afford to do nothing?
    Can LatAm afford both Argentina and Venezuela becoming economically unhinged at the (relative) same time? In the globalized 21st century?

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