Here’s a tidbit we almost forgot to remember: Venezuela was supposed to host the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) last year, but the government postponed it due to the crisis. Heh. Now, to make sure all the chickens come home to roost at once it’s set to start tomorrow…on Margarita Island. The irony!


Nicolas Maduro himself made sure to talk it up to the sky, calling it “the most important summit ever held in Venezuela…”

The “cacelorazo” at Margarita’s Villa Rosa barrio is already the stuff of legend, and PR armageddon: everyone from the New York Times to CCTV America ran with it. Can you think of a worse time-and-place to host an international summit than Margarita and tomorrow?

Maybe that’s why the government panicked and banned both flights and ships from going to Margarita during the summit.

The NAM summit was originally postponed for July 2016. Then the date was changed again to September, according to UN Ambassador Rafael Ramirez. The government is working overtime to have everything ready, including the use of 50 hotels for the guests and their delegations. Nicolas Maduro himself made sure to talk it up to the sky, calling it “the most important summit ever held in Venezuela…”

Maduro’s plan is simple: “If you host it, the dignitaries will come”. The problem is some of them are getting cold feet. Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez just got back from an international tour in which she went from India to Saudi Arabia trying to keep the rain checks from piling up. She even went to Turkey to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, even if Turkey is a NATO ally, which makes it as far from Non-Aligned as a country can be. Perhaps Erdogan got an invite to the summit because Maduro is a big fan of his purges.

But India and Indonesia, two of the NAM founding nations are sending only minor delegations to Margarita: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is apparently not coming, making him the first time since 1979 that India’s PM doesn’t assist to the NAM summit. Vice-President Hamid Ansari is coming instead. Indonesian President Joko Widodo is not attending as well, with Vice-President Jusuf Kalla and Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi leading the delegation from Jakarta.


At least you can always count on Rafael Correa.

Other heads of state are answering Maduro’s call: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has already confirmed, as the Islamic Republic will hand over the NAM Presidency to Venezuela. No Mercosur-type shenanigans here. Other confirmed presence is South African President Jacob Zuma, who’s probably just wants to escape the fallout of recent electoral defeats and internal protests in his own party.

Latin American presidents are also split on going to the NAM summit or not: Dominican Republic’s President Danilo Medina is sending his Foreign Minister. At least you can always count on Rafael Correa.

What’s the reason for this upcoming gathering? In the words of Delcy Rodriguez during her recent trip to New Delhi, “the Non-Aligned principles are today more relevant than ever…”. That’s a funny proposition, considering originally Non-Alligned meant you were Ni-Ni between the USA and the USSR, only one of which still exists. (Though come to think of it, with hardcore Moscow satellites like Cuba in the membership rolls, the NAM didn’t make sense even during the Cold War.)

But let’s get real, for Basem Tajeldine, a government-supporting international analyst (who happens to be son of the former Venezuelan ambassador during the last days of Gaddafi), it’s about something else altogether:

Holding this summit here will allow to unmask the United States. Venezuela is not isolated, Venezuela counts with the support of many countries worldwide. 120 countries will be present in Venezuela… it would be very important.

The opposition considers that making this summit in the middle of the political and economical crisis is unacceptable. Here’s the position of Miranda State Governor Henrique Capriles:

The government wastes money in a summit while Venezuelans need food and medicines. They pretend to sit down in a room and talk about a country that doesn’t exist. The country is going through the worst crisis in history and the government makes such a waste of resources. This is a mockery to all Venezuelans. How much money this summit will cost?

Can the central government keep things cool and easy in Margarita during those days? They think so. National Guard General Aquilino Mata says that Margarita is a peace territory where “people work for the wellbeing of Nueva Esparta State and the country”. But after Villa Rosa, I wonder if they should have followed the example of China at the G20 Summit: send the locals on vacation.

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. Margarita is completely militarized. All of the major thoroughfares within two kilometers of the Venetur Hotel (expropriated Hilton) where the Summit is being held have armed soldiers posted every 25 meters, or so, on both sides of the street. It will be very interesting to see what lengths the regime goes to to prevent the delegations from coming into contact with the public.

  2. I was watching Russian news a few days back and they kept playing the news of a high Turkish official talking about how courageous and wise Putin is. They did the same with another official from a Central Asian country.

    I am sure the Turks did the same. Asinus asinum fricat, our ancestors used to say.

  3. I wonder-
    1. If the hotels will have food, water, sewer, electricity, internet, clean sheets, air conditioning, service personnel? The VZLA military stinks at running the hotel business.
    2. How long Maduro will speak?- the longer the better show what a cuno he is.
    3. Will the press have freedom? Can Maduro stop the few foreign correspondents from writing?
    4. Will taxi drivers be censored? Will ordinary people in the street be jailed for speaking against Maduro?
    5. If a terremoto grande strikes, will Venezuela decline U.S. assistance?
    6. Will the foreign delegations accept Venezuelan (i.e. Cuban) security?

    All in all, I see this conference as a tremendous risk for Maduro. International press coverage will not be kind to him and will highlight all things done wrong.

    Weather will be 90 degrees Fahrenheit with 20% chance of rain.

    • 1. Depends on the hotel. There are all kind in Margarita..
      2. Agree.. the longer Maduro speaks, the more he incriminates himself.
      3. Not total freedom for the press. But who can stop the internet? Except many don’t have it.
      4. People will be censored and even jailed randomly, as we’ve seen.
      5. The chavistas sell oil to Venezuela, and will accept any assistance any day.
      6. What security? Venezuela is among the most dangerous and deadly countries on the planet.

      Maduro or Cabello have nothing to risk. They know they are on their way out. They are just trying to buy some more time, to steal a few more millions, and then figure out where to hide.

  4. “Non-aligned” movements are a political joke. Always useless. Google it up.

    And, of course, a waste of money, on both sides. In Venezuela, it’s just another scam. For the visiting people, paid vacation time. For doing nothing. Accomplishing absolutely nothing.

    For the regime? Just a mask of legitimacy, to pretend their are a true, solid government. That’s all. That, and the free pizza or steak dinner. While people starve elsewhere in Vzla..

  5. One would think this would be an embarrassing moment for the government. Given the state of services in the country, it’s like inviting dinner guests to a house that has not been cleaned in a long time.

  6. I imagine the delegates will never leave the hotel complex, not even for a perro or hamburguesa. Other than that why would they want to leave ? Margarita is a disaster, however it is a much more mellow place to live than the intensity on the mainland. I hope they all get a look at the famous holes in the water pipes that are leaking massive amounts of needed fresh water into the ocean, you can clearly see them from the window of your plane as you arrive.

Leave a Reply