Is he a threat?

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Maduro ObamaIn today’s Executive Order imposing tough sanctions on seven mid-ranking cogs in the chavista repression machine, Barack Obama had this to say:

“I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the situation in Venezuela, including the Government of Venezuela’s erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant public corruption, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. I hereby order:” (emphasis mine)

Most people’s initial reaction to the language used in the order was … whoa…

Sure, Venezuela is a thorn on the side of the US, and has been for years. But a threat? To national security?

Well, Obama is right: Maduro is a threat to US national security.

When people think of the word “threat”, they usually think of the first definition that pops up in Webster’s dictionary:

“a declaration of an intention or determination to inflict punishment,injury, etc., in retaliation for, or conditionally upon, some action or course; menace.”

According to this definition, it is hard to make the case that Venezuela is a threat. There is no clear intention to inflict punishment or injury on the United States on behalf of Venezuela, at least not immediately.

But there is a second definition:

an indication or warning of probable trouble: The threat of a storm was in the air.

Up until now, Venezuela has not been taken as a serious threat by the United States government. In spite of all the bluster, fire, and brimstone coming from Caracas, the relations between the two countries had not taken dramatic turns for the worse in a while. Both countries maintained embassies – sans ambassadors – in their respective capitals, and the belief in Washington seemed to be that, as long as there was a modicum of democratic process in Venezuela, we would solve the problem on our own and they would simply wait out until chavismo withered.

But several things have happened in recent months.

Many opposition leaders are being imprisoned and/or tortured. Media has been muffled to a large extent. There is now a high probability that the few remaining formalities of the democratic process will be dispensed with.

Venezuela is practically a narco-state. It has also decided that relations with the United States will be downgraded quickly, as the recent Embassy personnel flap reveals. And the government is quickly losing control of the economic situation, with hyper-inflation looming, severe shortages on the rise, and no policies on the horizon.

In other words, Venezuela is a failed-state-in-waiting. Moreover, it’s a rabidly anti-American failed-state-in-waiting, led by people whose delirious phase seems way too intense to not take seriously.

These were the folks who sent Bashar Al Assad diesel fuel in the middle if a war, who mourn the deaths of Saddam Hussein and Moammar Qadafi. These are the people who vote for North Korea at the UN, and think Russia has every right to reconstruct the Soviet Union.

The United States has every right to be worried about chavismo doing away with democracy for good and becoming entrenched in power forever. Who knows what it would do five or ten years down the road? Everything from hosting Russian military bases to increased ties with Hezbollah or other radical Islamic groups could become a reality. Who would be able to stop them then? Certainly not the by-then-long-extinct Venezuelan opposition.

Remember … an indication or warning of probable trouble.

Imagine a convicted child rapist moved next door to your house. After serving jail time, your new neighbor would surely want to start a new life, but you would probably not rest easily. You would see him mow his lawn and worry about your kids. Your calls to the police would yield respectful shrugs of the shoulders, probably saying “there is nothing we can do.”

Even if your new neighbor kept to himself, you would still feel … threatened.

Up until now, the United States has counted on the democratic process keeping chavismo at bay. But without democracy any more, can they afford to simply wait until Venezuela becomes an actual problem?

Better nip this problem in the bud, seems to be the thinking. In that regard, the language in the Executive Order makes perfect sense. In sidestepping sanctions for ordinary Venezuelans while targeting the actual human rights abusers, the Obama administration is zeroing in on the problem without creating unnecessary controversies regarding “embargoes” or other nonsense.

It has also chosen the perfect time for its offensive, right when the Maduro administration is at its weakest. It is most certainly creating tension and conflict within the ranks of chavismo. After all, it’s probably more difficult to target sanctions against someone like Diosdado Cabello, who has probably prepared for years for something like this, than it is to zero in on the guys in the second-tier of decision making, the ones actually implementing the orders from Miraflores. I doubt poor old Katherine Harrington-Colby has the testaferros that Diosdado has.

Maduro and his cronies are a threat to US national security. Let’s hope the pressure makes Maduro bend a little and free some of the political prisoners. After all, how much worse can things get for them?

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1 COMMENT

  1. “How much worse can things get?”–We are about to see, starting with Maduro’s speech tonight.” As I said before, the jailing of Ledezma was the Regime’s “Crossing Of The Rubicon”.

    • “…, the jailing of Ledezma was the Regime’s “Crossing Of The Rubicon”.”

      The people killed by the circles of death and by the snipers from chimpanflores in 2002 would like to have a word with you.

      This became a discatorship in the very second the wax doll ordered his thugs to slaughter the people to keep him in power.

      It’s a long way, paved with piles of corpses, whose latest victim is the 14-year old boy whose head was blasted off with a shotgun by a brainwashed fanatic bastard.

    • In reality, it is just legal language to justify exempting these seven foreign citizens from rights otherwise available. It’s like Presidents “certifying” that progress is being made on human rights issues in China. They do it, whether it is true or not, to be able to take the steps they wish to take.

      • Correct. From the NYT’s article today:

        “The official, who was not allowed to discuss policy publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity, also said that in order to carry out sanctions of this type, the law required the president to declare the nation whose officials are sanctioned to be a national security threat. The official cautioned that the declaration was meant to meet the legal requirement and did not represent “a recategorization of the actual circumstances in Venezuela.” “

    • Remember when Qadafi was a “threat” – The US put a missile into his tent. Hussein?? Now Maduro will be speaking the truth when he talks about his conspiracy theories. He is been declared a clear and present danger. After the missile Qadafi calmed down for many years and while he raped and pillaged his own people but he kept the oil flowing and as far as the US was concerned they would leave him alone – that is until he started to really abuse his people and the people decided they had had enough. We know how that has played out and the same fate I am afraid will be Venezuela’s. Maduro’s history with his conspiracy theories went one step too far in his rhetoric and the US has said enough of this Sh*t and have started the retaliation. I don’t think there is a missile in Maduro’s future but putting the bright lights and pressure on certain people in the government will further intensify the infighting that has been going on since Maduro took office and ultimately result in the inevitable collapse of this regime. The wild card is Cuba whio is sucking Venezuela dry while pandering to the idiot Maduro who laps it up like a little kitten with momma’s milk. We will see how much cojones Maduro really has ( or maybe it is how much cojones the greed of the real rulers (narco-generals and Cabello) of Venezuela have to continue the rape and pillaging of their own country. The idiots could have keep their money train going for years if they played a smarter game but greed begets more greed and more mouths to feed to keep the corruption on track because as they say in Jersey everyone in the “know” just wants a little “taste” of the corruption. So history proves it is just a matter of time not a matter of circumstance, because the price of oil is what is going to bring them down. They are already having to choose to cut substantial goods from the people so they can keep the military and the corrupt government officials happy. The smart ones are quietly drifting away to their ” otra fnca” like former Minister Ramirez.
      The stupid ones (that comprise the majority) will stay on too long and be found in the Venezuelan equivalent of the proverbial hole – just like Qadafi.

      • “The idiots could have keep their money train going for years if they played a smarter game but greed begets more greed and more mouths to feed to keep the corruption on track because as they say in Jersey everyone in the “know” just wants a little “taste” of the corruption…”

        That’s because these plunderers are marginales de a bolas.

        chaburros hate so much the word, but it’s the perfect one to describe them, the poor idiot that saw all work as an insult to his manliness, the “vivo” who thought he knew so much, but in the end, he only knew about shit and nothing more.

        • Esa es la verdad!!

          15 years ago if you said that the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, now has the worlds highest inflation, extremely high unemployment, highest violent crime rate, shortage of even basic goods including the ones they used to be major exporters of, and basically on the verge of economic collapse one would have said that’s not possible – only the stupidest government in the world could make that big a mess in so short a time……………. is it a coincidence that the largest of the rodent (rat) family, the capybara, is located in Venezuela? I think in this case they need a new insult because calling them burros seems like such an insult to donkeys. Donkeys are not that stupid and are certainly not that greedy. How about a donkeyrat, because the Venezuelan government is a whole new kind of stupid and you can’t fix stupid.

  2. The US action follows UNASUR’s statement that they will “…continue to accompany Venezuela to seek dialogue and peace.” At some point, the international community (perhaps even individual members of UNASUR) will start to talk of a widening “denial of justice” in Venezuela that will require focussed demarches, sanctions, etc. Your open question: “How much worse can things get?” might best be asked of UNASUR.

    • Article 8 of UNGA Resolution 60/251 provides that UN Human Rights Council members who commit gross and systematic violations of human rights can be removed. Venezuela may now be such a state.

      • Here are selected excerpts from the 2011 Human Rights Council, Nineteenth session, Agenda item 6, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal, Periodic Review, Venezuela. 
http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G11/172/43/PDF/G1117243.pdf?OpenElement


        The Solicitor General of the Republic, Carlos Escarra, indicated that: 


        · Venezuela was committed to fundamental rights from an individual point of view, such as the right to life, integrity and personal freedom; and from a collective point of view, such as education, health, sports and culture.


        · Venezuela was based on the rule of law because it recognized and incorporated those who had traditionally been excluded in a democratic State, that was by having a popular power that had expressed itself by creating 41,235 community councils, 319,290 registered cooperatives and 52 community banks.


        Selected Excerpts of Highly Positive State Commentaries:


        Angola acknowledged the efforts made to protect and promote human rights and in particular the creation of the legal framework for the protection of women’s rights.


        Bangladesh thanked the Venezuelan delegation for the invitation to a concert, a true representation of Venezuela’s commitment to human rights in the country and internationally through culture. It noted progress in reducing extreme poverty, access to drinking water and sanitation, empowerment of women, curbing violence against children and fighting HIV/AIDS. It asked about initiatives to fight against gender violence.


        Belarus noted the policies on the poverty reduction, particularly the achievement of the MDGs on eradication of poverty and access to water and sanitation. It also noted the achievements in the implementation of social programs and ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples. Belarus commended the policies to protect children’s rights and efforts in fighting against human trafficking at the international level.


        China appreciated the proactive measures taken by the Government to promote economic and social development.

        
Cuba considered the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as an exemplary project of equity, solidarity and social justice.


        
Iran noted Venezuela’s progress in protecting human rights. It recognized efforts to ensure equal educational opportunities for all, which increased enrolments. It welcomed the importance given to university education through the creation of the Ministry of People’s Power for Higher Education.
        
Nicaragua commended the high level of the delegation, which showed the importance given by the Government to human rights. It noted the failure of global capitalism and highlighted the current economic crisis.


        North Korea noted achievements in social, economic and cultural rights directed inter alia toward the eradication of poverty and social justice and efforts to achieve the universal access to higher education. It encouraged the Government to continue fighting against illiteracy.


        Russian Federation commended Venezuela for its efforts undertaken to promote and protect human rights and in particular for the measures taken to eradicate poverty and to ensure full enjoyment of the right to health, food and social security.


        Saudi Arabia noted that the Constitution guaranteed human rights on the basis of international instruments. It noted the creation of the Ombudsman’s Office to protect human rights and National Children’s Council for the protection of children.


        Syria highlighted the efforts of Venezuela to promote human rights, despite challenges and pressure. It praised the country’s achievements in public health.


        Zimbabwe commended the Government for having adopted the Simon Bolívar National Project as the foundation for national development. 


        On the other side of the ledger, the United Kingdom encouraged Venezuela to strengthen the rule of law and achieve progress across the prison system. It asked about measures taken to ensure prompt and impartial access to justice.
 And the United States of America expressed concern over Venezuela’s actions to limit freedom of expression and criminalize dissent, including using administrative pretexts to close media outlets and harassing media owners and members of political opposition through judicial action. It also expressed concern over the lack of independence in the judiciary and mentioned an individual case.

    • Well, the refinery is shut down. Broken machinery, no parts, whatever…

      They have all those workers with nothing to do… well, you get the picture.

        • Thank you, Roy. I always assumed that one was a diminutive of the other.

          Funny thing, some of the little Latin ladies (Mexico, Chile and Argentina) I cook with every so often over the years; I swear I’ve seen them use the two interchangeably.

          • Not to worry. I am still learning too.

            There are a lot of things that you can use butter or shortening in interchangeably, even though they are different. The example that comes to mind is pie crust. If you use butter, the crust is tastier and richer. If you use shortening, the crust is flakier. Also, the “margarine” they sell here is so awful tasting, it might as well be shortening. But, many of the Venezuelans, who were raised with it, actually prefer it to butter. Yeah, I know… Savages! 🙂

  3. ” can they afford to simply wait until Venezuela becomes an actual problem?”

    The short answer is yes, Obama can and will wait until well after Venezuela becomes a problem, assuming it does so. Obama will not intervene in Latin America unless it involves a right wing government. He has set his sights on cozying up to a post Castro Cuba which he would be unable to do if he intervenes in Venezuela or any other leftist inclined country. Most importantly Obama believes in the leftist rhetoric about America’s
    role in the world. He didn’t help the reformist movement in Iran and will do absolutely nothing for the opposition in Venezuela. The plain truth, I regret to say, is that you folks are on your own and the future of Venezuela rests in your hands.

    • I respectfully disagree. How do you know what Obama thinks or believes in? You are very high and mighty Bill C (and out of touch with reality).

    • What a load of hogwash.

      -What should have Obama done to help the reformist movement in Iran? Do you really think if the US was covertly helping the reformist movement, they would publicize it, considering the Mullah’s propaganda was painting the movement as a bunch of kids directed by Western powers?
      -Any real US intervention in Venezuela with in power would be counterproductive to say the least. It would bolster the regime, plain and simple. How do people not realize that? They should’ve left that language about a ‘threat’ out, as it’s simply not true and it gives Maduro something to distract the people with.

  4. I am watching this dude talk in cadena. He cerainly lives up in spades to the Maburro name. The dude is a fool. He brays, he dresses in the best North Korean dictator fashion. I mean, this guy has no shame.

    In many ways Maburro is relishing the attention, as the old song says:

    “Odiame por piedad yo te lo pido, odiame con pasion e indiferencia, …, porque el odio quiere mas que el olvido”.

    How can Chavismo coalesce behind this clown??!!!

    • Most of them, the stupid ass-poor perraje, hate too much the working people in the country and want to watch them suffer even if themselves end in the most abject misery.

      The other few, have too many dirty dollars and too many crimes to answer for.

    • “ódiame por piedad yo te lo pido
      odiame sin medida ni clemencia
      odio quiero mas que indiferencia por que
      el rencor quiere menos que el olvido”

      Close enough. LOL.

  5. I have always said that the U.S. would never send the cavalry to save Venezuela. I still think that. But, they may well use every bit of soft power they have to isolate them politically and financially. After years of dealing with terrorists and terrorist states, they have developed some skill in this sort of thing.

    But, I am still surprised. I didn’t see this coming.

  6. It still makes me laugh how some peoiple are still crying and whining about the fabled “marine invasion to take over the oil”.

    If USA didn’t send troops to freaking Sirya, where the dictator ordered to bomb entire cities chock full of people, killing like half a million in a year, what the f**k makes you thing they are going to send their armed forces to Venezuela? For them, it is MUCH CHEAPER to continue buying the oil like they have been doing this entire time.

    But of course, the brainwashing seems to fill people’s heads with drunk roaches…

  7. Maduro finishing now. Talked for a long time, saying little. The only action I heard was he wants another Ley Habilitante, to make him an official dictator. Anyone hear anything more than that?

    • He swapped the interior minister. The lady is out, and some general, that cannot enter the US is in.

      And did you see how he ended the speech, the chanting, the limp fist pumping, so cultish, so North Korean.

    • My speech takeaway–the Reds at the table aren’t worried, except for sanctioned Fiscal Harrington who was ordered (Maduro says he’d never seen her until now) to put away Ledezma; but, NONE of the military brass in attendance, sanctioned or not, were happy, from the looks on their faces.

  8. Juan, I think you are paying too much attention to the boilerplate language. Off course Venezuela is a threat to U.S. national security…eso lo sabemos hace diez anos. Lo que viene ahora esta en manos de los Chavistas. Obama is confident and on a mission. Venezuela is in no position to maneuver unlike Iran, Russia and Syria. Weaning the U.S. off Venezuela petroleum products is in the cards and on the table. Any funny business will be met with military might not to mention the achilles heel and ace in the hole: sealed narcotics indictments. Anyone get crazy and there’s a jail cell waiting for you just like Manuel Noriega.

  9. More important than any very improbable U. S. intervention a la Panama is to what extent U. S./related companies will be allowed to deal with Venezuela, a U. S. National Security Threat, and, even if they’re allowed to do so, at least until Maduro shoots himself in his other foot under his requested new Enabling Law, to what extent will U. S. companies WANT to deal with Venezuela, a labeled U. S. National Security Threat?

  10. There are tons of things that are “threats” in some sense or another. You could catch bubonic plague tomorrow and, if not treated, die from it. Lightning is a threat to you, so are the extra calories in your super-sized value meal.

    We live with threats all the time. It’s the human condition. We manage threats as a matter of course, it’s part of being alive.

    So in that sense, calling Venezuela a threat to the U.S. is sort of banal. The question is really how big a threat? I guess the regime has crossed some threshold that tips the US strategic calculus, but you still have to count the Venezuelan threat as extremely minor: light years from top tier threats (Iran, North Korea, Russia, Al Qaeda, ISIS) and really quite a ways off from even second tier threats (Assad, Libyan militas, AQAP, Al Shabbab, China-in-the-context-of-Taiwan, Boko Haram, Somali pirates, etc. etc. etc.)

    We’re tier three, probably lumped in with the Burmese generals and Serbian nationalism and a UKIP takeover of Britain. Sure, these things have the *potential* to become highly obnoxious to the US, but let’s get real: we’re probably not even on the top of the third tier.

    • The thing about Obama is he’s not the kind of guy to engage in hyperbole or exaggeration for the sake of effect nor is his administration the kind of administration to be wanting to drum up a big foreign policy crisis where none exists. Maybe they think tier three could go to tier one fast. I don’t know. They listen to everyone’s phone conversations, so they must know something we don’t.

    • i bet the phrasing of qualifying Vene as a security threat is legal language required by the state department to institute the sanctions they want.

    • I think Venezuela is a threat in a way that Mexico, for example, is not – you trust that in Mexico there is a government that will deal with any potential threats from its territory and work with the United States in common security issues.

      The difference, I think, is that before there was at least some confidence that Venezuela could work on common security problems. Now, that hope is gone. That makes it a higher-level threat than it used to be.

      BTW, one thing I didn’t touch upon: Venezuela’s human rights violations are a threat to US foreign policy, not just US national security, inasmuch as the defense of human rights, democracy, and free trade in the Hemisphere are nominally objectives of US foreign policy. (And I stress the word *nominally* here)

      • The Obama administration has considered threats of large scale humanitarian crisis or human rights violations threats to national security. I believe they call that the Samantha Power doctrine, or something like that.

    • I would like to add some facts to the equation:

      Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez, Sebin’s Director and now Minister of Interior have three siblings living in US.

      Bertha Carolina works for the NC Revenue Dept; married to a Cuban and now a US Citizen.

      Carolina Bertha is the Second Secretary in the Venezuelan Consulate in DC and married to Nestor Reverol (Commander of GNB and the militar with the most knowledge in narcotraffic in Venezuela);

      and Enrique Gustavo, a hairstyler working in Chapel Hill.

      What this people are doing here and for what purpose?
      Last night Maduro moved Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez to a even higher position in the Venezuelan regime. Why?

      • … I fail to see what is the great deal with all of this you are trying to make. Specially when we get to the part of , OMG, A HAIRSTYLER !?!?!?!!

        Let leave the witchhunting for the actual, bona-fide, witches.

        • I didn’t detect any witchhunting language regarding the hairstyler, Jesús. Might your sub-conscious be betraying you?
          I merely found Gandica’s contribution interesting, though confusing what with one sibling called Bertha Carolina and the other called Carolina Bertha. And while I personally wouldn’t have given the matter much thought, he has every right to ask his questions: what the siblings are doing in the US and for what purpose.

          • To me is a lack of imagination from the parents.
            But those names are for real. You can find them in FB
            Enrique Gonzalez name himself as Enrique Weffer
            Bertha Carolina is Berthy Vega (Married last name) or Bertha Carolina. May be still online

      • Well, Mr. Couto Fandiño, I for one would be worried that the sister of a very sinister man not only works for the North Carolina Revenue (TAX) Department, but that she could have access to information not available to the public about Venezuelan Opposition that reside in North Carolina (and there are quite a few, hechos los pendejos).

        And for those who need to travel to DC to do whatever they need to do at the Embassy/Consulate it is also good to know that the other sister of this creep is there as well.

        So thanks, Gandica, for the info.

        And by the way, Couto, Casto Ocando thought that that info was very important as well.

        • You got the point Roberto.
          About the hairstyler,always you needs people for laundry the money. Like a whole shopping center.

        • Is a well fine tune circle of information those guys/gals are doing.

          Director of intelligence services of Vzla – Sister with access to SS# in the US – Sister with access to all Venezuelans registered in the US.

          Nestor Reverol former Minister of Interior, President of Corpozulia and now Commander of GNB.
          Una molleja la que tienen estos zulianos

  11. The government will make much hay out of this. Before anyone gets too excited however….

    This bulk of the order is legal boilerplate under US Code Title 50 Chapter 35 Sections 1701 to 1703. Obama has to issue such language to use his presidential powers. All presidents use such language. (See Reagan on Nicaragua and Carter on Iran for starters). Obama is simply acting without the prompting of the Senate with the new sanctions.

    It’s sensational sounding, but not much more than that.

  12. I don’t understand why Obama is doing this–it only helps Maduro entrench himself. He really needed something like this, and Obama just gave it to him en bandeja de plata.

    • maburro would have been ordering his minions to continue slaughtering the venezuelans and blaming everything on USA regardless the existence of any actual meausre or move from them.

      That’s why maburro is called “fresh lie” (mentira fresca), he blurts a bunch of crazy shit without any proof and still goes and fucks everybody’s life as he pleases.

  13. I am wondering, from the U.S. perspective, “Why now?”

    In no particular order, here is a list of speculations:

    1. The U.S. acquired some new intelligence about Bolivarian shenanigans, that cast the situation in a different light.

    2. Obama is working on his “legacy” and has decided that he needs at least one diplomatic “win” to shore himself up.

    3. The recent performance by UNASUR was such a lackluster disappointment they decided that the U.S. needed to supply impetus and leadership to get the other LatAm states to step up.

    4. To assist Colombia in their negotiations with the FARC by convincing the FARC that they will not be able to hide in or count on Venezuela for assistance much longer.

    5. To assist the negotiations with Cuba by convincing the Castros that their Venezuelan lifeline is going to snap much sooner than later.

    6. Pressure from the Republican majority in Congress.

    7. The State Dept. finally just got tired of dealing with this particular recalcitrant brat, and decided they needed shake up the status quo.

    8. Being forced to reduce their embassy staff has got the State Dept. truly pissed off.

    I am sure there are more, but those are the ones that come to mind. Feel free to add more. None of these are mutually exclusive. Pick as many from the basket as you like.

    • Roy: reactionaries wonder why now. But reality at such a high level demands that every single legal and financial stone be turned, every loophole be analyzed with meticulous attention and with ample corroborated information. Anyone dealing with complex legal matters will know the timing that certain cases take. And it’s true that in the past, presidential orders could be carried out with sloppier maneuvers, in international arenas. I don’t think that’s possible now, moreover, in Latam.

  14. My guess is this one :1. The U.S. acquired some new intelligence about Bolivarian shenanigans, that cast the situation in a different light.

  15. I’m wondering why the sanctions were to only 7 people, when the original list was about 50-something?
    I’m also wondering about these first 7, they are not the big names (Ortega, Padrino, Rodriguez Torres). These are names that didn’t ring a bell at first, at least not to me.
    I mean, nothing is more against human rights violations than Padrino Lopez and his illegal resolution allowing the use of lethal weapons against protesters.
    Could it be that Obama is just using this first lot as a warning to the big guns? If they don’t change the attitude by releasing the political prisoners, they will impose sanctions to people with higher ranks (governors, ministers) and ultimately to Maduro?

    • Exactly. All this talk about Obama helping “coalesce” chavismo around Maduro is nonsense. It’s MUD-speak for “we’re afraid what Maduro will do to us now.” This move by the US will increase strife and mistrust within chavista ranks.

    • I wondered about the same thing, Carolina. And I can only conclude that this is the mere beginning of the hunt. Others will follow. Vamos a ver.

    • Actually, the 7 that were made public were made public because it is the Treasury Department that has sanctioned them. Since a prohibition to do business with any of those 7 is sanctioned, they had to make them public.

      The other list is being handled by the State Dept., the ones on that list were not made public in order to protect their privacy (at least, that was the explanation given).

      So, TWO lists, not one.

    • If the US starts with the top people, they no longer have any any leverage to change behavior. The people who have power would no longer have anything to lose. if the state department works its way up the chain of command then the pressure increases on the power structure and creates more disagreements.

  16. This language is nothing new , its a legalistic formulaic language routinely used whenever the US govt decides to take direct action against those denounced as violators of human rights , it portends nothing new in terms of US policy vis a vis the Venezuelan Regime .

    Because the language sounds more threatening than what it really implies in terms of practical actions the government will use it to make a big glaring scandal and paint itself as the victim of imperialist threats to attempt to gain the sympathy of dumb followers and already sympathetic govts and maybe formalize the assumption of some powers its already using to brutalize its persecution of the opposition under the mantle of ‘defending the fatherland’. Of course its all reeking in pompous phoniness !!

    The real purpose of these highfalutin histrionics is to distract attention from whats happening at a grass roots level through out the country , conditions are bad and getting worse and ordinary people including former followers are getting angrier and angrier at the govt and its speeches, and its failure to handle the crisis .

    Spent three and a half hours yesterday in a queue to buy some toilet paper and detergent , my fellows in the queue where not middle class people but mainly poorer folk from the barrios , also some low level public officials . Initially people were timid about voicing their discontent , then the temper of the crowd got hotter and hotter , and people started voicing openly and sarcastically their anger at Maduro and all his promises and speeches , there is deep generalized anger and bitterness agaisnt the regime . The old barrio ladies specially where vociferously incensed at what they were going through , there were three violent incidents of people fighting over someone apparently jumping their place in the queue. There was no one echoing the govt line that this was a result of an economic war , mostly people said that it was the result of the govt bosses lining their pockets with public money , of inner govt corruption . The mid level public officials was particularly adamant about this. !! People in the queues told harrowing stories of going from place to place seeking needed stapples , spending their whole day looking for missing goods , also about the hugely high cost of buying stuff from the buhoneros. General opinion was that things were getting worse and would get even worse and that nothing could be expected from the govt.

    The govt has to know this , and it must be worried not only about people turning to the oppo but of some incident developing into an outright explosion of riots which make shreds of their already much battered claims of popular legitimacy. Thus their desperate need for distractions to fill the air waves with patriotic noises to take peoples attention away from their daily torments …and torments they are.

    One thing I find very endearing of our creole culture is how there are no barriers preventing people from different social origings from sharing their thoughts and gossips in an almost intimate way, without hindrance or artificial social inhibitions, exhuberance and spontaneity of expression making people interact in a totally friendly and open way. !!

    • B.B., Good observations. In addition to your last paragraph, even as a foreigner, I find the same lack of reticence about expressing their opinions to me.

    • “One thing I find very endearing of our creole culture is how there are no barriers preventing people from different social origings from sharing their thoughts and gossips in an almost intimate way, without hindrance or artificial social inhibitions, exhuberance and spontaneity of expression making people interact in a totally friendly and open way. !!”

      To think that such society elected these devils is mindblowing, isn’t? It’s like when I discovered that my sweet grandmother voted for Dilma. I was like: “This is not right! You can’t support her, you are not like them! You are good!” But hell, political stupidity is like a mental disease.

      • One thing I forgot to add was the understanding by some of them that price controls for manufacturers who must buy imported goods using USD bought at the paralell rate was crazy , specially were the govt then forced them to declare those USD as having been bought at the 6.30 rate . the minor public official specially thought this as mad and explained that she knew that this was causing many businesses to shut down , she personally knew that the shuttered businesses numbered in the hundreds. !!

      • I agree with B.B. El pueblo really is beginning to pay attention to and understand economics. The vast majority of Venezuelans I encounter do not believe the government’s narrative, and as a result of being faced with the absurd distortions are actually developing an understanding of how supply and demand work, and how price controls result in shortages. In short, they are learning critical thinking skills in the face of huge gap between what the government tells them, and what they see with their own eyes.

        Before I get blasted, of course this does not apply to every individual. Still lots of stupid people who can’t or won’t learn. But, I think that enough of the population now “gets it” so that when this mess is finally sorted out, Venezuelan will have a smarter and more mature electorate that won’t be as tempted by populist rhetoric in the future.

  17. an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.”

    Nahh.. little Vzla is no “threat” , at all, to the USA’s national security.

    Period.

    Not even Mexico, with the drug trade and the huge border is a “threat” to the USA’s National Security. Maybe Iran, with nuclear bombs, or North Korea, if at all.

    So Obama went overboard, clearly using hyperbole. And probably on purpose: to distract the public about REAL threats going on : Iran and ISIS.

    Now that oil is cheap, with US Fracking, Vzla means close to nothing to the USA. Certainly less than say Brazil, Chile or Chile, or even Mexico and Colombia.

    It’s just a political flare. That’s all. I love it, though, because now the circus is back in town.. and hopefully, this will further deteriorate the economic relations with the USA, thus aggravate the Venezuelan economic crisis.

    Unfortunately, that’s the only way to get rid of Chavismo: more escasez, more inflation, more inseguridad, menos real en la calle, so that people get finally pissed off and hit the streets. So Bravo, Obama. Hit us with a Cuban style, full-fledged freaking economic embargo, see if we finally wake up.

    • “… Hit us with a Cuban style, full-fledged freaking economic embargo…”

      Y dale con el trauma del fulano embargo…

  18. Also, maburro is asking for yet another enabling law, to “rule in favor of peace”.

    Yeah, sure, because sending the goons to blast people’s heads off with shotguns is clearly a demonstration of peace…

  19. No embargo.. but Financially, and with trade obstacles, the USA could really push little Vzla to the brink of a final social explosion. Why do you think the Iranians are even talking to the USA?

  20. The fact that the regime is getting weaker and more desperate means that the country is more unstable. This makes it even more vulnerable to open and outright control by known crooks, such as generals involved in the drug-trade and the sale or illegal arms to hostile regimes and terrorist groups, and also makes Venezuela more likely to become the haven for FARC, terrorists and other dangerous organizations. I think this is what is driving Obama to start taking a harsher stand.

    But of course none of this wil lead to military involvement much less outright intervention by the US. . More like soft measures which may include decrease trade and potentially at some point economic blckade if things get too out of control.

    • “But of course none of this wil lead to military involvement much less outright intervention by the US”

      Given that Americans are willing to go the ends of the world when they feel threatened, I wonder why they wouldn’t do the same just 1500 km away from their territory.

      Maduro just have to keep pushing in the right direction, as he is doing.

  21. I would like to add some facts to the equation:

    Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez, Sebin’s Director and now Minister of Interior have three siblings living in US.

    Bertha Carolina works for the NC Revenue Dept; married to a Cuban and now a US Citizen.

    Carolina Bertha is the Second Secretary in the Venezuelan Consulate in DC and married to Nestor Reverol (Commander of GNB and the militar with the most knowledge in narcotraffic in Venezuela);

    and Enrique Gustavo, a hairstyler working in Chapel Hill.

    What this people are doing here and for what purpose?
    Last night Maduro moved Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez to a even higher position in the Venezuelan regime. Why?

  22. I thought the US considering Venezuela a threat to their national security seemed extremely alarmist and exaggerated…we have nowhere near enough military strength to even make a dent in their soil. But they must mean a “threat” in the same sense that deadly diseases are a threat to you, which is why you take vaccines as a preventive measure.
    I have no idea who these Lard Squad guys are, but I agree with Juan: It’s a terrific idea to target these guys individually. It saves you the international condemnation that comes with sanctions against a country as a whole, it’ll make these guys angry with Maduro for ruining their plans of comfortably retiring in the US, and it breaks the image of them as ‘men of the people’. Because why the hell would a socialist, anti-imperialist chavista have a condo in Key West and bank accounts in New York? How would they even try to justify that at, say, a UN summit? As much as these guys will cry imperialist intervention, the Venezuelan population will not have been affected in any way, and it will create internal bickering.
    I’m reminded of that scene in the last James Bond movie where Javier Bardem explains how rats will peacefully coexist when allowed to roam free, but immediately turn on each other when you trap them in an oil drum.
    Yes, these guys are just small cogs in the machine compared to Diosdado, but if enough cogs stop working, the machine will start failing. I can only hope they’re planning to do more sanctions against more chavistas.

    • “I thought the US considering Venezuela a threat to their national security seemed extremely alarmist and exaggerated…we have nowhere near enough military strength to even make a dent in their soil. But they must mean a “threat” in the same sense that deadly diseases are a threat to you, which is why you take vaccines as a preventive measure.”

      Any “failed-state-in-waiting”, as Nagel put it, will be a threat to its neighbouring countries. There’s not much to ponder over this… As it’s just too obvious.

      • Marc is correct. Consider the implications of a couple million economic/political refugees spilling out of Venezuela. This is not good for anyone in the region.

  23. With a majority of the narcotics trade passing through Venezuela to U. S./other destinations, Venezuela has been a threat to U. S. “national security” in one sense for a long time. The recent human rights abuses, and obvious signs that representative democracy is not in the cards for Venezuela, elections or not, are simply the straws that broke the camel’s back, even reluctant Obama’s, who’s been wishy-washy on Venezuela up to now. The important thing about the individual sanctions is that Venezuelans in power, especially the military, see that there can be consequences to their actions, important in a country where impunity for the powerful has traditionally reigned, no matter how outrageously irresponsible one acts, within the country or without, with Chavez being a stellar example by getting away even with murder.

    • I quite agree. The military should NOT be encouraged to act,. The opposition should concentrate on two themes, the immediate resignation of Nicolas Maduro and new, democratic elections within 6 months. That’s it. Simple. To the point. Any parliamentary democracy would already have tossed Maduro and his band of thieves by a vote of ‘no confidence.’ Clearly, there is no majority in Venezuela for keeping this guy in power. Resignation. A new election.

  24. I wonder if Toronto and Canada are getting ready for the possibility of Venezuelan athletes defecting at this summer’s PanAm games?
    Any bets on how many Venezuelan defect and declare refugee status? My bet is that it will be more then the number of Cuban defectors.

  25. US citizens have been arbitrarily detained, many others have been accused of being involved in plots. I think when someone officially accuses their neighbor’s Vice President of being involved in an assassination plot, they’ve made themselves a threat.

    • You have a point. But, that is just the surface, and all of those things have been happening for years. The U.S. does play a deeper game than that.

    • That is the point, they targeted a nobody fiscal that followed an order and now she is in a bloody US Government List! Way worst than la lista de Tascon.

      Imagine the face of the next nobody fiscal that Maduros calls and says “Camarada, meteme preso a Maria Corina!” or the next troop commander of the GNB that gets the order to shoot protesters.

      I am sure that now they do not feel so powerful and mighty!

  26. Does anyone know if they have actually published the specific assets being seized/frozen from these 7? If not, it would be a good political move to show Chavistas how their Bolivarian heroes chose to hide and invest their wealth in the Empire.

    • I was hoping for that information, as well. Maybe this presidential order has a built-in suspense mechanism, kinda like a telenovela.

  27. I must correct a previous post where I belittled the practical significance of the language used by the US Govt to sanction the 7 Venezuelan Officials .

    Talking to a lawyer friend (who read the original order) he tells me that to apply said sanctions Obama could have simply invoked the already existing Venezuelan Sanctions Law recently ennacted by US Congress but that by invoking other laws used in situations of greater military importance ( Iran for example) he was leaving the door open for further and much more severe and drastic measures against the regime , in fact signaling that it wanted free way to SCALATE the sanctions if it believed it necessary at any future time . !!

    Obama is in Venezuelan terms ‘mostrando el tramojo’ to the regime . Telling it in effect , if you go further do so at your own peril . This is heavy stuff .!!

    Whether such measure is justified because Venezuela poses a threat to the US is a moot point , who the people are who got sanctioned is a moot point . What the US govt has done is drawn a red line on the sand and told the regime squarely …….dare pass this line and there will be consequences ….!!

  28. BTW, pay no attention to the people (such as Luis Vicente León) saying that this strengthens Maduro. That is nonsense. There is simply no evidence that current or past US moves have affected Maduro’s standing in any way.

    León is simply saying that so that people will freak out and, a few months from now, hire a firm (Datanálisis!) to poll how the Venezuelan public is reacting to this.

    • Also, the parliamentary election is pretty far away. I think any political capital gained in the anti-imperialist media firestorm scheduled for the next few days/weeks will have long since evaporated by September.

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