Making Sense of the Shannon-Diosdado Confab

image-2014-11-10-18513179-70-jackson-diehl-washington-postWashington Post op-ed columnist Jackson Diehl has the first comprehensible account of what the effing eff Senior State Department official Thomas Shannon was doing in Haiti a week ago meeting Venezuela’s druglord-parliamentarian Diosdado Cabello.

In Diehl’s telling, Shannon’s key goals were to save Leopoldo López’s life and to help ensure fair legislative elections this year as a way of engineering a soft-landing for the regime.

If so, well done Mr. Shannon!

But Diehl also stresses that allowing meaningful international monitoring of this year’s elections was a key U.S. demand in Port-au-Prince. In her announcement today, Venezuelan elections chief Tibisay Lucena implied that only UNASUR would be invited, and then only to “accompany” the elections.

There are multiple problems with that. First off, UNASUR – the Union of South American Nations – was founded by Chávez and is widely seen as pliant to the Venezuelan regime. What’s more, “accompaniment” is not “monitoring”. Even the Carter Center – not exactly a full-throated CNE critic – has declined to participate in “accompaniment” missions in Venezuela, noting that:

The concept of accompaniment differs from observation in that the purpose of accompaniment is to invite foreign individuals to witness the day of the election with a largely symbolic political presence, while the purpose of observation is to invite international organizations to comprehensively assess an electoral process to enhance the integrity of the voting process, contribute to voter confidence, and inform the international community and domestic stakeholders. (Emphasis added.)

Ni es lo mismo ni es igual.

In short, whether UNASUR accompaniment will meet Shannon’s demand for meaningful, impartial international election observers seems very much open to question.

Man…busy news day!