Last November, when Mauricio Macri won the Argentine presidency and ended the Kirchner Era, a frisson ran through Venezuela’s embattled opposition movement. It happened just a couple of weeks before Venezuela’s own legislative election, and seemed to herald a whole new era for the region. For the first time, one of the big Left-Populist autocratic movements had been defeated at the polls. Chavismo had lost one of its two major diplomatic allies. Anything was possible.

Today, Venezuela’s hopes for the Macri regime slammed into a wall of cold, hard realpolitik, as it became clear that Argentina’s new conservative government has turned, incongruously, into Venezuela’s best remaining ally in hemispheric politics. (If you want to understand the dynamics, it’s important to read the whole thing.)

How could this have happened?

The news our friends at Vertice News are hearing about the behind-the-scenes scheming in Washington are confusing and upsetting. Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Susana Malcorra, appears to be taking the lead in trying to forestall application of OAS’s Democratic Charter to Venezuela, apparently as part of a complicated negotiation to line up diplomatic support for an eventual bid to become UN Secretary General. Her line has set her on a collision course with OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, now leading the charge in favor of an invocation of the charter.

Argentina’s OAS Ambassador, Juan José Arcuri, is now actively maneuvering to forestall the use of the charter, proposing instead a vanilla resolution about “fraternal dialogue” sugarcoated to within an inch of his life. It was Argentina that called tomorrow’s extraordinary meeting of the Permanent Council in its role as pro-tempore head of the organization.

Apparently, Almagro is pressing ahead with his charter invocation, even though he may not have the votes to carry it through. He seems to be almost daring Malcorra to put Argentina on the record effectively backing the Maduro administration. Almagro seems to be courting Macri’s personal involvement: with his long record of support for Venezuela’s democratic movement it would be seriously awkward for Macri to now vote against a charter invocation, especially in the wake of Almagro’s very strongly worded report urging it.

The U.S., disappointingly, appears to be backing Malcorra’s position, while Brazil pretty much sits out the crisis.

Yet it’s Argentina that now seems to have the whip hand in the Washington-based diplomacy on the Venezuelan crisis.

For many years, Malcorra was Chief of Staff to outgoing UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon. A proper diplomatic heavyweight, she knows everyone, and everybody knows her. Well. Calls for the next Secretary General to be a woman are loud and in many ways justified. But the job is meant to rotate among continents, and former New Zealand Prime Minister and current UN Development czar Helen Clark has a better chance. Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, currently the chief of UNESCO, could also take the job.

How far will Macri go to push his candidate to the UN’s top job? Can he really allow Venezuela to become collateral damage in her bid?

As Mauricio Macri knows very well, within living memory, Venezuela’s democratic governments stood by Argentina’s democratic activists through the worst of its dictatorships. Will the history books be able to say Buenos Aires reciprocated?

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28 COMMENTS

  1. Why is that seat so important that Macri is willing to let all of us die for its sake? As far as I know everyone understand that the UN is mostly a prank that went too far.

    • Monarchies, the Papacy, the head of the UN… all those positions stand to be more symbolic than actually powerful; yet they still carry some leverage with them. And for any politician, there’s no such thing as “too little of a power”; so if you can have it, you will have it.

  2. This story reminds me the so-called Doctrina Drago. Drago was an Argentinean chancellor who developed a sort of alliance between Venezuela and Argentina when any of the two countries is attacked by a foreign enemy. As I remember, Argentina sent a warship to defend Venezuela during the European blockade against Cipriano Castro’s regime in 1902 (“la planta insolente del extranjero ha hollado el sagrado suelo de la Patria…”), and 80 years later Venezuela returned the favor by condemning the British invasion of Malvinas (I don’t think Luis Herrera Campins sent a warship against the Brits; I guess he would have said “no le agarro el rabo a perro que no conozco”).

      • LHC’s position was based on the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance TIAR, and not in the Drago Doctrine. Moreover, there’s the backdrop of the Guyana-Venezuela dispute, but the main point is that Venezuela tried to broker a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The US, Colombia, Chile and others said that Argentina was the agressor.

        In any case, Luis Herrera did not support the Argentinian dictatorship in and of itself: its foreign policy was quite forceful against dictatorships from both the left and the right.

        • I remember well the telethons to raise money for the Argentines during the Falklands War. The impression was that Venezuela was fully behind Argentina. I used to call in to those telethons to defend Britain.

          • Many in Vzla were confused about who to support during the Falklands War, in that both Argentines and Brits have historically shown an arrogance that is uncommon and unacceptable to most Venezuelans.

  3. A mi me caía mejor este Macri…

    Sr. Maduro:

    Es evidente que usted y yo vemos cosas distintas y de distinta manera. Por ejemplo, donde usted ve enemigos a los que quiere aniquilar, yo veo a venezolanos enojados que le exigen cambios a su gobierno. Donde usted ve una conspiración, yo veo cómo se llevan baleada en una moto a Génesis Carmona agonizando a los 22 años. Y no lo veo a usted. No lo vi en los funerales de esos inocentes.

    Donde usted ve fascistas protestando, yo veo gente, veo personas, veo seres humanos que no están de acuerdo con usted. Lo hacen como pueden, son gente, también son el verdadero pueblo venezolano ¿o sólo los que lo aplauden son el pueblo y los otros son enemigos? También veo lo que usted parece que no ve. Veo las motos temibles de grupos paramilitares que en la noche disparan contra civiles desarmados, incluso disparan contra sus casas y departamentos, como muestran los videos en Youtube.

    Donde usted ve en las redes sociales solamente difamación y mentira (que la hay, que la condeno), yo encuentro además la indignación verdadera de los venezolanos que tienen allí el único espacio que les quedó para denunciarlo con todas las letras, porque ya casi se quedaron sin medios de comunicación porque usted los cerró, los ahogó, los persiguió y hasta los echó del país ¡Qué suerte que existen Twitter y Facebook para que puedan hacernos saber lo que está pasando en Venezuela!

    Los otros días el gobierno argentino le ratificó su “apoyo total y absoluto”. No debería confundir al gobierno argentino con los argentinos, como nosotros no lo confundimos a usted con los venezolanos. No todos lo apoyamos de forma total y absoluta en sus abusos. Yo, por ejemplo, prefiero exigirle la liberación inmediata de Leopoldo López y de todos los presos políticos venezolanos. Elijo pedirle que asuma el control de la fuerzas parapoliciales que esparcen el miedo y la muerte a balazos. Prefiero pedirle que garantice la libertad y se siente a dialogar honestamente con los que piensan distinto.

    No son enemigos ni conspiradores los que protestan, son venezolanos.

    Mauricio Macri
    24 de Febrero de 2014

  4. I will be so disappointed if in fact Mauricio Macri orders a vote against Venezuela’s freedom. With Venezuela;s history of helping argentinean dissidents and now Macri turning against Venezuela it reminds me of that old saying: The Road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  5. even though the situation definitely merits the invocation of the charter, by proposing it without the votes to pass the resolution, Almagro and the Venezuelan opposition could end up like fools.
    .
    The absence of commitment to democracy by the OAS was fully stablished in 2009 when they lifted Cuba’s suspension, Latin American goverments, like most of its population care more about particular political and economical interests rather than democratic values.

    • Besides, OAS member states, particularly in the Caribbean have been well funded by cuban directed/ venezuelan financed grafts and grease monies for over 15 years….

      Time to see if the investments paid off of the opportunistic nations of the Americas, just vote their current best interest again.

  6. Malcorra’s candidacy wouldn’t survive within the Security Council with LatAm delegation divided, so it makes sense. Add this to today’s joint comuniqué from Chile, Colombia, Uruguay (the other SC member) and Argentina Foreign Ministries supporting UNASUR dialogue efforts and the pursue of Constitutional means to solve the crisis (Referendum), with no reference to OAS Charter whatsoever; and there you have a clearer look of what to expect from our so called friends. It’s been said time and again: this fight is ours, and ours must be the way to win it.

  7. Here is what you need to know about any position of the USA.
    We don’t give a damn about Venezuela,
    We don’t NEED the oil.
    It is not on voters’ minds. (Well, maybe 0.001% of voters).
    Sorry.

    • Dave, we know that Obama is an idealist and his foreign policy is idealist and not realist. The Cuba and Iran deals are proof.

    • You’re right, somebody should really tell these people to stop fixating on the U.S. so much and write about the real diplomatic players engaged by all this, like Argentina…

      oh, wait…

    • Wrong woman at the wrong place at the wrong time.
      I’ve watched this good video in the morning.
      Its sad, but maybe you really think along the lines of her super-soft proposal after a career in the UN.
      When democracy and rule of law seem in danger in some country around here, I find its often frustrating, when its so hard to reach unity about handling the case inside the EU or even the German Government. Like the reactions towards the latest possibly babo-style (babo=the boss) politics of Recip Erdogan. Nevertheless Venezuela should be a much more unambigous case. At least center-left Governments of Chile and Uruguay appears firm in their support for Almagro. That woman should know that unity is much more importants than details about strategy.

      It is very sad.

  8. FANB has been practicing large scale amphibious assaults for two weeks now. This is an offensive military operation. What they are doing is not defensive. They are practicing the invasion of Guyana. There is a big disconnect with what the military is doing. They are ignored. Nobody calls them out or challenges them.

    One week ago, three F-16s intercepted and shot down an aircraft. Something is wrong with this and nobody cares. There are too many variables with Venezuela

  9. They are walking on egshells, what do you want?

    Also, I have a strong feeling that if we can’t work this out ourselves, we deserve to starve. The opposition, with the questionable exception of Capriles, historically has no interest in accepting its part of that responsibility.

  10. The fact that Malcorra was Ban Ki Moon’s deputy should automatically disqualify her from any positions. There have been fewer crappier Sec Gen’s of the UN than him, and that’s a pretty crappy bunch themselves…

  11. There is an old saying ” God helps those who help themselves”……at the end of the day, we venezuelans got into this mess, we need to get out of it ourselves…….forget Malcorra, OEA, etc etc, they don’t really care, they have their own agendas

  12. Politics..it is what it is. And to be perfectly honest, no one cares about Vzla. They care about themselves. Vzla needs to address its own problems, not pray for Macri or anyone to solve them.

    1/ Massive corruption at all levels, everywhere
    2/ Under-education

    Deal with it.

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