Public Life: The Nth Casualty

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Left to right: America's diplomat, Haiti's president, Venezuela's foreign minister and its drug lord.
Left to right: America’s diplomat, Haiti’s president, Venezuela’s foreign minister and its drug lord.

What will have a bigger impact on the lives of Venezuelans over the next, say, two to five years?

The parliamentary elections slated for later this year, or whatever was said behind closed doors between Thomas Shannon and Diosdado Cabello in Haiti this weekend?

That’s the question that kept gnawing at me as I stared at this picture (for far too long) today.

And you know what? It’s no contest. The Haiti meeting wins, hands down.

Venezuela faces many transcendent questions today. What will happen to the elite narco-military clique Diosdado godfathers? When will the chavista chokehold over the CNE, the Courts, the Fiscalía ,and the other nominally-independent institutions of state be broken? Who will implement the fiscal and monetary adjustment needed to restore a semblance of order to economic life? Who will govern Venezuela? How can the transition out of the current catastrophy be made orderly?

On all of these, the Port-au-Prince meeting just laps the election.

I don’t have any particular insight into what Shannon and Diosdado talked about. I can’t do any more than wonder what kinds of deals were cut, or what threats were made, or even what the agenda might have been. For all I know, they were talking about Esquivel.

But that’s the point: regular people have no access to the discussion that really matter for the future of Venezuela. At all.

The whole idea of public life – of an impassioned public debate by regular citizens about the future of their polity – looks quaintly outdated. And that leaves people like you and me – passionately interested in public life but without privileged access to information – looking more and more superfluous. We are public opinion roadkill.

The grotesquely disfigured simulacrum of a public sphere we see in VTV and La Patilla resembles the real thing less and less. The reason, mostly, is that chavista power can’t conceive of the public sphere as having any independent purchase on the real decisions that determine the course of the ship of state, any kind of capacity for independent opinion formation, interest formulation or – heaven forbid – exercising influence.

Actually, I think the real takeaway from the whole lurid, terribly amusing, but ultimately impossibly sad Jim Luers Affair is that even a estas alturas del partido VTV and AVN still haven’t taken down the original articles quoting the non-existent mug. They just don’t give even the tiny-little-bit-of-a-fuck it would take to minimally cover their tracks, even if all that means is taking down some of the most extravagantly debunked pieces of misinformation they’ve disgraced themselves with in ages.

Or take the BCV’s increasingly bizarre determination to simply not publish any more statistics about the economy. Ever. Even though they have them, and we know they have them, and they know that we know they have them. Why? It’s that attitude again, the same one that shines through their failure to retract the Jim Luers stories.

It’s not carelessness, exactly: it’s contempt. Contempt for their readers, yes, but also a deeper kind of contempt – contempt for the principle that what regular people know can or should matter. At all.

Contempt for public life.

Yes, the situation is catastrophic on the government side. But let’s not gloat too much. It’s not like the MUD celebrates the kind of engaged public life the government is busy trying to eradicate. On the contrary, a cogollocratic opposition leadership similarly feeds its rank-and-file pap about unity even as its narrative comes to look every bit as threadbare as SiBCI’s.

In those circumstances, the handful of spaces fighting to preserve something like the real thing – this blog among them – find ourselves fighting a losing battle.

None of the discussions that matter take place in public. None of the discussions that matter get reported on. The future of Venezuela is locked up in a million Port-au-Prince style closed-door confabs, with the Port-au-Prince meetings’ only real distinguishing trait being that somehow, someone started snapping pictures, and they ended up being made public – not to inform anyone of anything actually said, of course, but just to suit the propaganda needs of a government that doesn’t communicate in any other key.

We’re used to bemoaning the death of Venezuelan democracy. What I”m getting at is something related, but separate. We’re not just losing our democracy, we’re losing the Republic – the res publica, the whole notion of the state as a public thing we’re all entitled to know about and discuss and argue over and build consensus about.

And that’s worse, because a vibrant public sphere is a prerequisite to a healthy democracy. Try to institute the latter before you have the former and you end up like Libya.

Which, come to think of it, may be very much the way we’re headed.

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  1. ¿Cómo es posible que Shannon se deje fotografiar tan sonriente con GodGiven cuando éste “se supone” está siendo investigado por narcotrafico? No entiendo nada. Creo q contrataron a Mario Puzzo de asesor…

    • Has anybody in the White house confirmed the accusation? The US is up to something that will benefit them. By the way, this is not a criticism. It just what it is.

          • Bwahahahaa! Damn, these chaburros are spending now millions just to pass one lie as a truth! xD

            Oh, wait, that’s the only thing they’ve been doing during 17 years xD

          • “He girado la orden de que se congelen todas las investigaciones que tienen que ver con este país, hermanado a nosotros por la historia y la literatura de Herman Melville. Jack, tu leíste Moby Dick, no?

            Tú tienes cara que te gusta Moby Dick —dijo el presidente mientras el secretario del tesoro Lew le hacía una reverencia y todos en el salón reían al unísono.”

            what, no reminiscing his childhood in Hawaii? no tales from the days of University? talk about amateur hour…

          • I am re-reading “Los Amos del Valle” and I feel that we lost the Republic the day that the last caudillo (a.k.a. Chávez) died. We are now back to square one, that is when a bunch of warlords (a.k.a. Mantuanos) could care less about the nation as long as they could continue with their illegal trade of cacao and slavery, enjoy their excesses (some of them were even child abusers, e.g. like having sex 11 or 12 year old girls) and avoid paying taxes. Only that now is worst than in colonial times (a.k.a. Capitanía General) because we are seeing illegal trade of illegal drugs, human trafficking and organized crime and thugs keeping control of zones within the Venezuelan territory. All that happening in the 21st century. I guess that Venezuela never overcame a colonial corrupted cast system, we only changed faces and names (some of them even within Chavismo desperate to obtain a “cédula de blanqueo”, Nicmer Evans, la Ekhout, la Golinger, etc. Do you think Cabello considers Aristobulo Izturiz as his equal?, to just name some cases).

            The only thing that holds Venezuela together is 1) the neighbours are a bit more formal and modern so they maintain borders, 2) a farcical show of “executive power” performed for the international community by a bunch of bad actors and 3) the international community trying to continue giving some sort of legitimacy to a bunch of state institutions that behind closed doors and within our borders are non-existent.

            I guess that only a handful of Venezuela people, like Francisco, understand what a modern state means and how a liberal democracy should work (democracies only works in nation where its citizens are educated). I came to terms with myself to understand that Venezuela has not even consolidated the state, so long time ago I accepted that I lost the republic.

      • bueno si Obama le dio la mano a un personaje siniestro como Raul Castro, no hay razón para que un diplomático estadounidense no se siente a conversar con Diosdado. Nos guste o no esto es diplomacia.

    • Igualito que Obama ahora y su historia de amor con los Castro, la peor Dictadura homicida, destructora de cualquier derecho humano que ha tenido Latino America en sy historia.

      Politica.. Son todos unos mentirosos, sinverguenzas, desalmados.

    • Si entiendes independencia de poderes, entiendes eso. También ayuda “inocente hasta que se demuestre lo contrario.” No no soy chavista, pero conozco el país donde vivo. Saludos.

    • oh relax, saddam hussein was photographed with rumsfeld and it didn’t help him to avoid swinging from a rope twenty years later. The CIA paid Noriega only to send him to a florida prison.Cabello is trying to negotiate with the devil for his own life. Lets see how long it lasts. I bet you that he won’t ever retire long enough to spend the money he stole.

  2. Although the topic may have been as banal as exchanging Ambassadors, the photo manages to suggest that Cabello is a friend of the Americans, rather than a wanted drug kingpin. Sending Cabello was a clever ploy, but doesn’t mean that anything important occurred.

    I generally agree with Quico about the public sphere (and recommend Habermas to those interested in the topic). But international relations, being under executive jurisdiction, are often impenetrable until a deal is reached. Then, in democratic countries at least, important accords must pass through Pariamentary approval before they take effect. These days, that’s pretty attenuated, becoming a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.

    • “Sending” Cabello, lest we forget, was also yet another reaffirmation of the fact that the separation of powers does not exist in Venezuela. Of course, he actually sent himself, since he now appears to be running foreign policy too (through his ally J Rodríguez and the latter’s kid sister).

  3. “We’re not just losing our democracy, we’re losing the Republic – the res publica, the whole notion of the state as a public thing we’re all entitled to know about and discuss and argue over and build consensuses about.”

    Sadly, you’re right Quico. And this has been happening for quite some time. Now, families are becoming de facto nation-states worrying only about their inmediate future, surviving day by day in line-ups and curfews imposed not by law, but by circunstances. And even so, some families get divided and hostile to each other.

    That’s the reality we’re living in. And that’s the late comandante presidente’s true legacy.

  4. This is way too pessimistic for my taste. Many times important decisions are made behind closed doors – decisions that affect the very essence of the Republic. Think of Kissinger’s negotiations with the Vietnamese, or the negotiations between the FARC and Santos. This is similar. It’s true that transparency would be better, but in this case, secrecy is tantamount. All democracies have this.

    • Juan,
      I do not see the logic in what you are saying.

      A= Important decisions affecting the life of of the Republic are often made behind close doors
      B= sign for hope
      You have A, you have B and from there you say
      A->B

      Hope for whom? And anyway: even if Kissinger mades me puke, I have to say his negotiations with the Vietnamese, as far as I know, didn’t lead to any improvement in the life of the Vietnamese.
      The improvement in the life of most Vietnamese was probably rather independent from whatever Kissinger might have done or not…it went along the lines of China’s development.

  5. One is startled at seeing that photograph of the idiot Thomas Shannon smiling with a known drug kingpin in Haiti. Where did the US government find such a slobbering loon? Diplomat? Standing next to, and in the presence, of pure evil, and smiling? Did he not stop-by at the US Justice Department to, perhaps, read the file on Godgiven ‘before’ he went down there for his secret talks? No, I believe that nothing was achieved during these ill conceived ‘talks,’ other than the embarrassment to human dignity that Shannon and his/her boss even agreed to such ‘talks.’ Depressing.

    • As someone who followed Shannon when he was an ambassador in my country, I tend to agree with you. It’s sad, but he’s not very different from Jim Luers at all. I believe that nothing was achieved during the talks too. A good word to define him: weak.

      • And that is saying a lot because we all know Jim luers is a strong willed man whose realness attribute is only lamp-shaded by his own, non existent personal charisma

      • do you know him or have ever met him? Do you know why he is Venezuela point man for two administrations? Have you ever made a mistake? He made a mistake but that does not change the fact that DDC and his brother are going to be even more famous.

        • I only understood your first question, so I’m going to answer that one: since he had been the US ambassador for Brazil for years, he was always in the news here. And he always seemed to me to be incompetent, weak and even a bit of a coward. Someone can argue that most of an ambassador’s job is to attend black-tie parties, read, write and such, but we are talking about the ambassador of the US, not an ordinary country. He didn’t get anything done. All the bilateral agreements were irrelevant.

          His “best” moment here was probably when he got humiliated by Brazilian officials in front of his wife during his farewell party. It was quite funny (and well-deserved, btw):

          http://www.defesanet.com.br/br_usa/noticia/13018/Tratamento-dado-por-Brasil-a-embaixador-desagrada-aos-EUA-/

          With that said, I wouldn’t bet my money on Shannon.

  6. Imagine the most repugnant personality to walk the face of Venezuela negotiate his access to the throne with the gringos. I feel like puking.

  7. Without knowing the subject of the talks or possible outcomes, Shannon allowing himself to be in that picture is very disappointing.

    • You’d think with all his ranting and raving about the evil plots of the gringos Godgiven would avoid a shot like this too, but yes, Godgiven doesn’t give a crap what anyone thinks. He’ll smile with the Yanqui imperialist assassin golpista.

  8. I think this detachment from the public, this ‘contempt’ mentioned in the article, is just the obvious consequence of a government that doesn’t need popular support nor votes to remain in power anymore. To have accountability and transparency in dictatorships is not only unnecessary, but absurd!

    Democracy started to die in Venezuela when a handful of criminals decided to privatize the government to serve their interests, and now almost two decades later on this road, the people has become just a nuisance, a nuisance that they perceive as just an annoying fly buzzing near their ears. *clap*.

    • Right. The Dictatorship can get by with the 3 Million+ direct Enchufados (on the payroll, 32 Ministerios del Nirvana y Sublime Bienestar Eterno); plus the other, say, 5 Million indirect Enchufados, making tons of doe on corrupt, shady deals (See Derwick, for a little taste).. that and the remainind die-hard Chavistas (not even Masburristas) who are so ill-informed, brain-washed by the Regime-controlled media machine, and bribed with occasional regalitos, the under-educated pueblo, mostly.

      That’s about 10 Million or more supporting the Dictatorship one way or another, some of whom would even vote for them again, despite the colas, escasez or rampant crime!

      They couldn’t care less about the worlds’ contempt” (not that the world really cares much either about Cubazuela)

    • Marc,

      Venezuela may not be at the top of the priority list for Washington, but it is more than just an annoyance. Chavismo through a serious wrench into the U.S. regional agenda.

      • I must have expressed myself badly, I was trying to say that for the Chavistas, the Venezuelan people is just an annoyance that they would love to get rid of.

      • Yes, it’s not as if the Bush administration’s handling of Venezuela and the world was one of Chavez’s key propaganda assets. smh…

      • I doubt that neither the U.S. president nor SecState are paying much attention to Venezuela right now. Their plates are full, with ISIS, Ukraine, etc… I suspect that they have pretty much dumped this on Thomas Shannan and given him a free hand. It would probably be the same if it were the Republicans. This is sticky situation, and no one benefits politically from being close to it. If Thomas Shannon fumbles the ball, he can take the fall, and the politicians can distance themselves from it.

        Time to study up on Thomas Shannon…

  9. Official contempt for public life, as you put it, and just people in general, started with Alo Presidente. Oh the irony.

  10. Heh, I find funny that you think about la patilla as a counter-vtv, like many people did about globovisión before it got “sold” to capodado.

  11. “And you know what? It’s no contest. The Haiti meeting wins, hands down.”

    Disagree. For 2 reasons:

    1/ The USA is just doing what they normally do: play geo-political games to their advantage. The same thing they are doing with the Bloody Dictatorship in Cuba. Buddy-Buddies, now, huh?! The same game they play in the Middle East, notably with Saudi Arabia, where 15 Twin-Tower killers came from, where Jihad is financed. Same game they play with Russia and China, other forms of today’s camouflaged neo-Dictatorships, like Cubazuela.

    Ultimately the most likely scenario is that the USA will not intervene, militarily (behind the scenes) or through other vigorous economic sanction means; they still have an apetite for Cubazuelan oil, and this is not the 80’s when you could send a few choppers to Panama or Grenada and remove dictators. Thus, Guisozuela will have to implode.

    2/ The infamous “elections” this year will have a much stronger aftermath effect than any shady meeting behind closed doors with any foreign government. (Those, btw, happen just about every week, except Dictators decide not to publish anything at all. This time Cabello used it as a fake “rapprochement” trying to validate Cubazuela’s tumbling regime with the USA and the world, right when the ONU, Geneva and all the ex-presidents are bitching)

    – Even when it’s obvious that the elections will be Fraudulent, poisoned by bribes, terror, fear, threats of all kinds, plus the usual play with the seats, (and the obligatory malicious tweaks of Chavez’s Smartmatic lottery machines)..

    http://www.elchiguirebipolar.net/14-04-2015/venezolano-que-no-sabe-que-es-gerrymandering-es-jodido-por-gerrymandering/

    … and the fact that even if Cabello/Rodriguez are smart, faking a small “defeat” by the MUD, say of 55%, which of course in practice will means nothing after a few more bribes and MCM-type firings of “diputados”

    Well, it’s after most Cubazuelans realize they have been Screwed again, after they realize the elections are a freaking putrid joke, a fart indeed, then they probably get really, really pissed. Everyone knows about 80% of the pueblo despise Masburrismo, and they’ll see a 55% result, even with an unprecedented 80%+ participation (write those predictions down). That’s really gonna shake things up, again. Several May30 and bigger protest marches, at least, plus hunger strikes and transportation strikes, etc by the hundreds.

    Hopefully, the next fraudulent elections will blow up in the Dictators’ faces, on a country without real Parliament or any separation of powers, it should act as strong Social Detonator, (along with the continuing escasez, inflacion, crimen y se fue la luz o el agua, degradation of people’s purchasing power, which is what really pisses people off).

    The little, sinister Haiti meeting is just another smoke screen for both political animals. Happens all the time.

      • Second that !! Scratch a Floyd and find a Tomasito, always the same message , all are corrupt , voting is useless , nothing will ever change ……..all govt employees vote for the govt ….etc etc

    • “… they still have an apetite for Cubazuelan oil,”

      Again with this stupid bullshit…

      Dude:

      “One cubazuelan oil barrel: 50$.
      One bomb from a drone: 1.000.000$.”

      Do the math, crackpot.

        • Oh, 300 k barrels equals 15 bombs, perhaps a lot less or a lot more, maybe bombs and missiles don’t cost 1million, but 2 or 3 million each.

          My point stands, just go and google how much was spent to take down Saddam in Irak, and remember, that was just a guy that went into the sewers when he heard the first gunshot outside his palace, not much different to what could happen in a hypothetic case in Venezuela. Waging a war is way more expensive and difficult than to pay for a commodity that’s almost free, the lie about USA invading Venezuela for its oil is an imbecile-catcher campaign, fostered by the moronic hatred some people have from envy for those who got something in their lives.

          The “evil empire that wants to get our oil” excuse is only applicable to castro and his whorehouse island, because that’s exactly that’s been happening from 20 years to now, and his intention since he seized control of the island 60 years ago.

          You want to know why chaburros and all their asslickers are so hysterical and ballistic about fracking? Because they won’t be able to continue their stupid extortion card on anybody, because they can just go and resort to buy the oil somewhere else.

          • Ok, forget the Oil y=the USA still imports, or all of the stuff the USA still exports to Cubazuela.

            Any more nit-picking on my post about the Main points in the blog today?

          • You were the one who started, bringing the “mean USA wants to invade ____ for its oil because it’s cheaper and easier than buying it” chaburro idiocy.

  12. Se lee entre líneas claramente su impotencia y es normal pero no se arreche como dicen ustedes… Un blog en inglés escrito desde Canadá, Chile… (también Venezuela) si se entiende como herramienta que contribuya al cambio político en Venezuela es algo limitadísimo en todos los sentidos. Hay que ponerse entonces a su (baja) altura en lo emocional si uno no se quiere sentir frustrado una y otra vez porque la realidad es la que es pero seguir a la misma gran altura que ustedes han mantenido siempre aquí en lo intelectual, lo político… dejando siempre claro que aunque a los demás no les importe un carajo ni lo más básico, a nosotros sí.

    Uno de los problemas es que el venezolano que Capriles quiere hacer bajar de los cerros (eso publicó ayer El Pais en España) nunca escribirá expresiones como “vibrant public sphere” ni nada parecido. Sus palabras son distintas y por tanto, su pensamiento y sus acciones van por otro camino. La cosa pública no va con ellos (¿conoce siquiera la gente de las colas a J. Luers?) porque para él/ella lo realmente importante es que las toallas sanitarias subieron un 6500% (http://www.aporrea.org/actualidad/a209219.html … que cada cual ponga la estadística disparatada que prefiera. Recomiendo por cierto leer ese artículo. La ira de ese chavista – sorprendentemente agudo a veces dado el bajísimo nivel de esa web – va subiendo de semana en semana… se entiende que no es el único y por alguna parte tendrá que estallar todo esto alguna vez)

    • Y lo que otro coñazo de gente no quiere entender, es que “los cerros” no van a bajar nunca mientras el régimen los tenga amenazados con las dos cosas más efectivas: La comida (Si no te arrodillas, no comes), y la vida (Si no te arrodillas, mis malandros te matarán)

      Y por cierto, anda y pregúntale a cualquier chavista en una cola quién es el fulano bicho de mentiras ese, y te vomitarán el panfleto completo con pelos y señas, porque eso es lo único que ven, 24/7 la cloaca de pusvtv y leen los paleles tualés usados de gonorrea y el correo de joge y jvr.

      • Los cerros vamos a bajal cuando se balla la lus y se acave la arepa gratis de nuestro comandante supremo Chaves

  13. That picture scares me. Once again the powers that be decide the fate of all the people The fact that a U.S. Government person is meeting with a drug cartel lord is shocking..the U.S. Government meets in secret also. The people of the world seem powerless today and are only pawns of the rich and powerful. It is a sad place we find out ourselves being the captive of people without consious or morales

    • On the surface my friend, just on the surface. Two books have made a big impression on me. The first by Martin Van Creveld is titled “The Rise and Decline of the State”. The second by Moises Naim is “The End of Power”. If you think people of the world seem powerless today, these two books claim that this is becoming a trait of government these days. Just a few (bad) examples, drug cartels, Al Quaida, ISIS and other scoundrels are giving a rough time to governments and show no signs of being routed. Some supra organizations such as the UN are trying to fill the leaderless vacuum but they are toothless (and corrupt).

  14. It’s kind of funny to see some commenters here, thankfully not all, frothing at the mouth because

    GASP!!! A Diplomat, of all people, met with DESPICABLE PEOPLE!!! Double Gasp!! How dare he!!!

    It is his JOB to meet with people like Godgiven and Delcy.

    And then further, without even a HINT of what was discussed the condemnation continues and words like loon and dolt are soon thrown about with abandon.

    Seriously folks, get a grip.

    For all we know, the meeting was about what ground rules are in play at the meeting tomorrow Tuesday at the OAS, where Almagro makes his debut and all the Foreign Ministers will be on hand to have lunch and justify the Business Class seats their govts. paid for.

    The “Venezuela Case” was not on the official agenda of the meeting until late last week, now it is.

    And as for Godgiven, first he spends 2-3 days visiting Brazil, where surely our buddy Marc showed him a good time. Strengthening our commercial ties was the excuse. Right, DDCabello is now our “fedecamaras guy”.

    Next he shows up in Haiti in a surprise meet with Shannon. Tweets it loud and clear. Why? Imagine if he didn’t and the pics show up on the Intertubes with the headline “secret meeting”.

    Who controls the narrative now? Anja.

    Could this be DDCabello “negotiating his surrender?” Not this publicly, and not with Delcy hanging around.

    So the next thing to watch is the meeting at the OAS tomorrow. Perhaps after that things may look a bit clearer.

    And yes, I do understand how pictures convey intent and so on. In this case, I don’t see the “you can baptize my next child con los meaos” vibe anywhere near that pose.

    • “And as for Godgiven, first he spends 2-3 days visiting Brazil, where surely our buddy Marc showed him a good time. Strengthening our commercial ties was the excuse. Right, DDCabello is now our “fedecamaras guy”.”

      Ha, yeah! I was there at the airport holding a banner: “Narcoterrorismo no es amenaza, Narcoterrorismo es esperanza”.

      Regarding Cabello’s reasons to visit Brazil, it was revealed yesterday that Venezuela, from all countries, is the one which has received more money from Brazil: US$ 4.5 bi.

      (in Portuguese) http://economia.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,venezuela-foi-maior-beneficiaria-do-bndes,1706087

      Some people like to say that Brazil has been “milking” Venezuela, but it’s actually worse than that, Brazil is acting toward Venezuela in the same way that the USSR did to Cuba in the past: providing resources to keep the rotten revolution going, what is far more condemnable and repugnant than to be just milking. Cabello’s visit might be related to that, they certainly need more money.

          • Alas, The Humongous, Galactic corruption scandal of PetroBras is proof that the virtually inexorable Oil Curse is still alive and well, at least for Third World countries !!

          • Petrobras is indeed incredibly corrupt, but oil represents a small share of the GDP overall, so it’s still far from distorting the economy like it does in Venezuela or Russia. The lower oil prices are actually being good for Brazil — although not so much for Petrobras –, what is the opposite of what’s happening in oil cursed nations.

            See the figure inside this link:
            http://www.cnbc.com/id/102151869

          • The oil curse or dutch disease in itself is not related to corruption , the dutch didnt become corrupt when gas and oil was found in their maritime areas , its to do with the national political culture of the country in question. It has to do with a countries lack of organized and effective institutional controls , with its degraded historical social mores and customs , Oil may make the bounty bigger but its the other two factors that trigger the phenomenon. You dont blame a cars powerful motor for the accidents that happen , you blame the drivers ineptitude or lack of prudence. The oil curse is a problem but the big problem happens when a country lacks the moral wherewithal and competence to govern itself with honesty and wisdom. to handle its resources with balance and effectiveness.

          • “The oil curse is a problem but the big problem happens when a country lacks the moral wherewithal and competence to govern itself with honesty and wisdom. to handle its resources with balance and effectiveness.”

            How do you do that in a place where the people can’t understand how beneficial capitalism is, despise the private sector in a very irresponsible and stupid way and, at the same time, want the state providing everything for them for free: from University classes to diapers for their babies? Kind of hard, right?

            What allows oil curse to happen in Venezuela over and over again is that neither the common man nor the government can grasp how important the private sector is for the well-being of the economy, and I don’t blame them, because when you have 20%, 30%, 40% of your GDP coming from oil, that picture does not get very clear at all… You can loot and expropriate left and right all you want certain that there will be ships of hard currency coming your way by the end of the day. And things will appear normal on the next day.

            Sadly, some countries in South America are poised to fall for natural resources curse over and over again until they reach a level of economic development, some sort of GDP per capita threshold, that allows society to evolve in such a way that the people will finally be able to understand what you and me already do. I think that’s the reason why Norway and Netherlands didn’t fall for it, they had already passed that GDP per capita threshold by the time that the oil curse threat was possible.

            Look at Chile’s situation, for example. It is totally unsustainable. If they had 5% of their GDP coming from natural resources, they could possibly understand that their strong private sector, fostered by a great environment to do business, is the reason why Chile is the most developed country in the continent, with low unemployment rates and low inflation. But with 15-20% of GDP coming from mines? It will be hard to convince them of that. Camila Vallejo will probably be their next president. Tax, tax and tax, welfare; welfare and welfare! And then they will have a failed country.

  15. Wow, great post and discussion. I believe this Blog, being generous as to the relatively high level of its contributors/readership, can make a difference. Of course, the “res publica” does not exist in Venezuela, and the Parliamentary elections will not be decisive (small “win” for Regime rather than small loss?), assuming they’re held; trouble is, the largely local Parliamentary elections in largely barrio/Interior/often rural areas are dominated by Regime political machinery and dependence on Govt. jobs/Misiones/Pensiones/giveaways–think the last Governorship elections, where probably the foremost National street PSUV organizer who had traveled the Country told me beforehand that the Oppo would win almost all Governorships due to local public discontent, with the result that the Oppo LOST most of the Governorships, in spite of widespread local discontent. And, of course, the 6mm non-existent “registered” voters will “vote” as needed. What’s really disgusting about the Shannon-DC meeting is that it may imply that Obama is considering trying to “save” (IMF help, maybe disguised?) this Regime,which is on the verge of imploding, as it did to save the dirty Casro Regime, which, without Venezuela’s accustomed largesse down the road, would probably also have imploded. And for what, Obama’s “legacy”, his leftist-leaning beliefs, need for Venezuela’s diminishing U. S. exports??–all to stifle/postpone the arrival of real democracy, especially in Venezuela, which, yes, will arrive probably only violently, but at least it will have the cathartic effect of cleaning out the vestiges (think toppling the many statues of El Comandante Eterno) of a disastrously-failed well-financed communist system in Venezuela, for all Latin America to see and avoid for the future in their respective countries.

  16. The DEA has its hooks on DDC, they may want to sweeten him up so that he travels to a place where they can extradite him when the time is ripe. Suspect the meeting was set up not to negotiate anything , just to please the President of Haiti (give him publicity as big international middle man) and have the regime make a show that there is nothing going against DDC. which means nothing because at the right time it wont stop DDC from being charged prosecuted and detained .

    Wouldnt surprise me if Shannon didnt even know DDC would be there .

    For the Regime to mount this stupid farce of having DDC travel ti brasil and Haiti to have his picture taken is a sign that they are really worried about the impact of the accusations of DDC’s drugtrafficking activities being published in the international press.

    • Sorry Bill, but as a person with diplomatic privileges as member of the Parliament of a country he can’t be detained, imprisoned either extradited by any means.

      And the only practical use of the meeting for Diosdado, and maybe the very reason, is to be washed against the public opinion of his voters (PSUVers) facing the next votings.

      Remember that Diosdado became member of the Parliament because he was the first name in the PSUV regional list for Monagas, he was not proposed as nominal candidate, and that was because the refusal he generates in the public as been involved in many corruption gossips. To avoid an increasing abstense in their voters the PSUV has to wash and wear their candidates. As well as to settle another Dakazo, prior to elections.

      • I stand humbly corrected , you are right , I also understand that even among many of the Chavista die hards he is often rejected , they are as aware of his corrupt reputation as people in the oppo, the picture wont change that image of him except that appearances will be served which is very important for a regime that prizes appearances so much !!

        EVen if he cant be extradited I suppose he can be named or accused as part of some criminal process , By the way how did get Noriega ??, what about the head of Sudan ??

        • Sudan’s President flew away from Joburg back to his country, as a president of a country he couldn’t be detained unless he did commit a crime in the jurisdiction where is being detained. The same for congressmans and high representants of a country or international organizations.

          If Cabello were to go the US and he did commit a fellony there, he could be detained. But detained in another country because of investigations in a third one, nope.

      • Cabello is neither an accredited Ambassador, nor the member of the diplomatic core in any country. He has no immunity as a Parliamentarian, except in Venezuela. Other persons in quasi-diplomatic roles get immunity for acts in furtherance of diplomacy, but not for outside criminal activity such as drug trafficking.

        Even for those who were unambiguous representatives of a country, Presidents such as Pinochet, their immunity lasts only as long as they remain in office.

        • That principle is only applied when a international court jurisdiction is applied, not when a country is investigating a possible fellony and the person lands over a second country outside their own.

          And as i can remember, that doctrine of extraterritoriality and overpassing high-representatives-of -a-country-rights is only applied in cases of against-humanity-crimes like genocide, not common ones like drug traffic.

          • For extradition to happen the person whose extradition is requested must be indicted of having commited a criminal offense which is considered extraditable in both the country making the extradition request and the country receiving it , this certainly includes human rights violations but it can also include drugtrafficking and money laundering depending on the law of those two countries.

            Then there is the rule that some foreign officials are exempt from extradition , this usually means the heads of state , the foreign minister of that state and those who form part of diplomatic missions making them entitled to the privileges of diplomatic inmmunity . Other officials are not automatically protected from extradition (much depends on the law of the state recieving the extradition request) .

            It may be for example that under the laws of the US , former Minister Ramirez is protected only to the extent he remains the member of a diplomatic mission so that if at any time he loses that quality then he can become the subject of criminal prosecution ( assumming it can be proven that he is indeed guilty of whatever crimes are associated with the so called Andorra investigation )

  17. I find myself unable to form any intelligent opinion regarding the agenda for that meeting. Sure, I could speculate, but I find myself painfully aware that events are taking place totally outside of the sphere of public discourse. And, I find that very uncomfortable. How can anyone plan anything under such conditions? Our very lives are at stake, and we are completely in the dark.

  18. I found the post out of scope,

    At first the Counselor of the State Department met with the Foreign Affairs Minister of Venezuela and the President of her Parliament, it was not a meeting between Thomas Shannon and Delcy “w/bitch” Rodríguez and Diosdado “capo” Cabello. So the issue about “How is it possible that guy could be smiling and holding hands with those bastards?” is absurd.

    Second, about what’s more important if a meeting between the US Counselor and the chiefs of the venezuelan diplomacy or the parliamentary elections. Well the mere fact there’s no date and schedule for the votings answer your questions and doubts.

    The US govt is heading to stabilize the relationships with the country at least to a desirable minimum, point that couldn’t be able to reach because the negatives of the venezuelan govt to accept a high level diplomat from Washington in the recent past. That objetive is independent of the votings, as it is a older process from about one-and-a-half years ago.

    By other hand, the issue about what’s the scope of the speech facing the votings, and the question about the republic, in the very sense of the word, well, as someone had stated, the common, doesn’t understand of those abstractions and ideas, they are more involved in the utilitarian-ground-to-Earth (maybe undergrounded) issues of the day-to-day.

    While the MUD close-dooring about who will be the next ‘impresentable’ to be enrolled in the lists, the people is wondering what’s their speech and alternatives to chavizmo. Arturo Peraza S.J. said recently http://www.noticierodigital.com/2015/06/la-narrativa-de-la-oposicion-es-mera-negatividad-dice-el-provincial-de-los-jesuitas the speech of the opposition is a no-and-bad-and-chaos speech, that doesn’t generates anything but refusal in the common people.

    More important than the Shannon-Rodríguez-Cabello meeting at Haití, it is the MUD close-dooring that will generate the program for the next parliament, and how it will respond to the question “Pa’ qué sirven/irán ustedes allí?” that most people are wondering in the sXXI-ish venezuelan queues.

    • “How is it possible that guy could be smiling and holding hands with those bastards?”

      Diplomacy has been described as the art of saying, “Nice doggie”, until you can find a stick.

  19. Diosdi can be just a “coleao.” Who says he is not? The background here is not knowing, not having the possibilinity of interviewing any of the particpants and not having the agenda for public knowledge further than ‘important issues discussed.’ It is sad and very serious. One wonders when this was allowed to get where it is now.

  20. I tend to think that this was a gaffe from both Shannon and DiscoCompacto (DC). However beyond Toro’s discussion of how we (the public) are isolated from everything including knowledge (pardon my oversimplifcation), I would like to ponder on few whys:

    1. Why did Shannon meet with DC?
    2. Why did DC meet with Shannon?
    3. Why the meeting was made public?
    4. Why Maduro did not have a lot to say on the meeting itself?
    5. Why the picture?
    6. Why no one talks about Delcy?

    Here is my speculation:

    1. Either US is truly looking for a detente with Maduro (via liberation of the political prisoners in exchange for money), or they are looking for a Venezuela post Maduro, or the just want to workout the Guyana thing, or they want to pressure on the parliamentary election. Perhaps US wants Venezuela back as their committed oil source. May be they wanted to tell DC that if helps to dismount the already crumbling “revolution” he will not get prosecuted as “Sun General”. Not sure pick one or add yours and have fun with it..

    2. This is even a more puzzling one but one may say it could make sense. Who truly yields and projects the power in Venezuela: DC. Who connects the military and hence the “legal violence” in Venezuela: DC. who is in a desperate need to find a viable exit door if the Republicans win in the next US election: DC. Who is the one being investigated for drug trafficking: DC. Who has being pragmatic with the Cuban relationship: DC.

    3. The Empire meets the once almighty Bolivarian Revolution on a country that got ravaged by an earthquake 5 years ago and it is still in recovery. A country that Chavez invested millions of $ on an airport and 14kbbls/day in a sweet deal via PetroCaribe. One may say that Haiti is getting something out of these two countries which they depend so much. Perhaps was Haiti that got the word out about the meeting to show them as a diplomatic broker. Or it was US to show that that it is Maduro the aggressive one thus getting the DC/Maduro crack a little bit bigger. Or it was DC to show that he does not have anything to fear and he is the one talking to the gringos. God(given) only knows..

    4. Que va a entender burro de chicle?. Now these are the gringos just fresh out economic recovery talking to the guys that brought you hyperinflation and a new verb/adverb bachaquerismo (o bachaquear). They are dealing with a very basic man that is arguably going towards the exit door. I wonder…did “el pajarito” told Maduro to stay quiet?

    5. It is not the first or the last time US representative commit to diplomatic gaffes in the name of publicity / PDA (public displays of affection). In reality it hurts the core Maduristas more than the US. Am I thinking this one too much?. One can say that a picture says more than a thousand words and this is one of those.

    6. It is not secret that Daisy diplomacy is not only unsophisticated but actually so brutally narrow that you may concede it works, sometimes, once the laughs pass. (I wonder where we stand on the issue of reducing the US embassy staff). Anyway, Delcy seems to works within Maduro’s framework, she is obedient, committed, and loyal. Now loyal to whom?. In these times when Maduro’s head is hanging even within his own party one can say that Delcy was not there to represent the Foreign Ministry but perhaps edging on her own future. Obviously, logically she should be in the meeting in her condition as foreign minister but why Mr. Watson, why..?

    Conclusion: I don’t have a f**ing clue but there are forces that have Maduro in there cross sight (figuratively speaking mr. Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional, in case you are reading this) and those are not from the gringos or the opposition.

    • Or it’s just politics as usual.

      Obama loves his summer detentes and sweet rapprochements, first with Cuba and now Cubazuela.

  21. when we went down the road of sealed indictments, many questions where left unanswered. This is uncharted territory. We have never unsealed like this. I cannot imagine how this administration was planning to unseal and follow up. Sealed narcotics indictments are their achilles heel. The purpose is to bring them to the negotiating table. That is working. However, what happened yesterday is suspect. On the surface it looks like Shannon got duped for the photo-op. Diosdado did his Triple Crown with Lula, Dilma, and Shannon. Did Shannon not see this coming? Will know today or tomorrow. The US Gov is asking for time and leniency on this meaning they fucked up. We are all human but I would not have made this mistake and plenty of Shannon’s peers would not have made this mistake. The pros are not going to dish Shannon because of mutual respect

  22. It’s particularly endearing to see in the picture this close embrace between Diablodado and Haiti’s Carnival singer, none other than Haiti’s president Michel Martelly, arguably THE most corrupt regime this side of the Atlantic, rivaled only, perhaps by Iraq, North Korea and Corruptzuela.

    NarcoCabello seems to love visiting the most corrupt human beings on Planet Earth, after saying bye bye to Lula, it’s Michelito.. guacala!!

  23. Mas preguntas que respuestas,

    1.yo creo que lo importante fue lo que acordaron Lula y D.C y que trajo como resultado foto de estado con Dilma.
    2.Eso permitió una reunión exploratoria con los gringos
    3.La Delcy solo cuida los intereses de Nicolas, nada mas.
    4. No hay fotico de D.C dandole la mano a Thomasito.
    5.Thomasito se cuido de no aparecer muy cercano a D.C.
    6.Creo que la necesidad de la foto no tomo en consideración las muchas preguntas que la prensa internacional tendrá que hacerle a Adm. Obama, después de todo lo que se a filtrado del caso de D.C.
    No soy de los que creen que es una victoria de D.C, o es solo wishfull thinking mío?

    Todo esta en pleno proceso de implosion, control de cambio y ni contar del bendito “precio justo”. Donde vamos? nadie lo sabe.

  24. We should know in a few hours. They flubbed the press conference today and yesterday where asking for time. we will know if they spin this but I’m not worried. DIosdado is not going to get away with this

  25. If the meeting lasted 30 minutes and there was no follow up press meeting or anouncement its a certain sign that there were no substantive exchanges between Shannon and DDC on the subject of US Venezuelan relations . Its a non event dressed up to appear as a real event . just something conjured up by Haiti and Venezuela to create a photo opp to make it appear that the accusations against DDC dont exist..

    We should treat it as the non event that it is. The photo looks so phony !! evidently considering DDC prior visit to Brazil to do really nothing what the govt wants is to try and clean up the messy image that surrounds DDC. In Venezuela no one is fooled , even most. regular Chavistas know about his corrupt behaviour and dislike him for it.

    • Yep, that’s what it is– an ambush, most likely, of poor Shannon by Sweet Micky & Godgiven. Remember that both the US and Venezuela are Haiti’s biggest donors– plenty to discuss about given the unraveling happening in haiti. that’s probably how they got Shannon in the room in the first place.

  26. This reminds me of the pre-Panama summit “venezuela is not a threat” which was then rectified via the WSJ. As I said earlier, I’m not worried and if a mistake was made it will be corrected. The United States is not letting us down. Those smiles in those pictures will soon be gone. The United States is not playing second fiddle. The ball is firmly in their control.

  27. definite proof the CIA is NOT involved in Venezuela? WTF are the intelligence analysts? Do they operate in a vacuum.

  28. Oh much ado about nothing.
    Just to clarify: the meeting lasted an hour and a half.

    My take on this is the following, DC wanted to show the opposition that he does not have the country for a prison, that he can travel whenever he wants and even meet with a US official. This is much better than inventing a Jim Luers. So he asks for a special and sudden meeting with T. Shannon to discuss something but somewhere neutral and with Martelly’s assurances that he will be okay.

    Martelly probably will get some oil out of it.

    Why did Shannon do it? Why not? DC asks for a meeting, go see what he wants, there may be something interesting. Besides, he has been meeting with Maduro, in a way this is no different. Also it sets a precedent that can be useful in the future.

    DC did it for the photo ops, to stick it to the opposition. The trip to Brazil was for the same reason.
    DC took a calculated risk and played the International Diplomacy players just to irk Quico. It worked.

    • There is also the possibility that Shannon did not know it was DC with whom he was going to meet. He may have been told that it was someone important with key information and that is why they wanted a “secret” meeting in Haiti and not Caracas.

    • Reading Quico’s favorite journalist today, Nelson Bocaranda, we find that according to him and his sources that the meeting was planned, the participants known and the agenda set.

      • To have a meeting like that involving three different countries requires quite some preparation no doubt, dates need to be set people need to travel, although from the US only Shannon needed to travel, the ambassador and the other official were already in Haiti. Setting an ad-hoc agenda should not be difficult since there a number of pending issues between USA and Venezuela.

        But since there was no prior announcement, as would be the norm in an official meeting, indicates that this was a special meeting, maybe prepared with little advanced notice, with an uncertain outcome and/or a possibly hidden agenda. Maybe there was no certainty that the meeting was going to take place.

        According to Bocaranda, Maduro was supposed to be in that meeting, not DC. Although to me that would have been even more strange, Maduro flying to Haiti to meet Shannon when they could meet in Caracas.

  29. There are two bits of news today which might relate to each other , one the General Prosecutors Office ( fiscalia) finds that LL twiters contain no subversive messages and second the State Departament says the Haiti meetings were productive without elaborating . Evidently the US Govt will ask the regime to pay a price for normalizing relations and maybe staying the process against DDC and other govt chiefs . Maybe that price includes some guarantee that the elections will be held and the oppo treated with a minimum degree of fairness. Meantime the haiti meeting is sharply criticized by Mark Rubio , meaning that every step taken by the US govt to normalize the relations with the regime will come under the scrutiny of the obama administrations enemies. the process is becoming politiced in the US. Evidently the regime is very anxious about the accusatios against DDC and is on a international propaganda campaign to try and damage control its effects on its already much tarnished reputation.

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