The Story of a Tweet

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Over on The Atlantic, Emi aterriza a los gringos in what exactly that picture means in Venezuela…and comes out of her little trumpista glass closet in the process:

Trump’s tweet set off a deep political shockwave in the country. For Venezuelans accustomed to living in fear of their dictatorial government, the sight of the president of the United States siding publicly with the most fearless champion of Venezuelan democracy was powerful.

Of course, there are perils to his taking this position, too. Trump has become a toxic figure on the international stage. Some observers, like Phil Gunson of the International Crisis Group, are concerned that explicit backing from Trump could make it politically impossible for other leaders in the region to actively support his endorsement.

This is not a concern I share.

Read it all.

36 COMMENTS

  1. Great article and agree on mostly what she said here except in her casting the opposition as too cowards, which is not the case. The reason you have her going to the White House instead of an active political leader of the opposition is probably to avoid any political payback.
    Also, I think Obama could have been more agrresive, but lets remember that Officially the Dictatorship in Venezuela started just a few months ago when the ban of the elections.
    Now is much easier from a diplomatic stand point to sanction Venezuela much harder or even propose an inavasion ala Grenada or Panama.
    Photos like these were done several times during the Obama era with no results to speak of.
    I wish the USA will just invade, but Trump toxicity will make it harder even if it was the most logical step to take.
    Hillary Clinton under Obama was the proponent of the Lybia invasion, unfortunately she didnt win.
    Trump is a wild card and 3 years might pass before anything gets done. The guy has lawsuits coming in all directions, the Impeachment is turning in a possibility and is stirring the pot too much elsewhere to the point of disfuntionality and chaos.
    On the other hand the Secretary of State could go either way, do the right thing for Democracy in the region or put ExxonMobile interest first with corrupt deals with the Maduro gang.

  2. Quico, so the Trump tweet sort of made you break your silence on what appears to be his administration’s policy to end the dictatorship in Venezuela, potentially a big develipment. I say sort of because you used someone else’s words to acknowledge this development (how long can you ignore an elephant in your house? Answer, in your case several days)) and you left no fingerprints. The closing phrase “This is not a concern I share” is a quote from the Atlantic story and thus the reader is left with the ambiguity as to whether you share this lack of concern. In any event, I was glad to see your post but I have a reservation about your apparent dig at Leopoldo’s wife coming out of her little glass Trumpista closet. She is doing what any spouse and mother should do and serves as an example for everone who wants to end this dictatorship. Nothing about the picture suggests an endorsement of Trump. He is not the issue, Venezuela is.

    • William, Trump has other priorities on the national agenda such as Health Care, Inmmigration, etc and the almost unsurmountable task at 70 years old of a very steep learning curve of Governing the USA with zero experience in Politics, Laws or International Affairs to survive himself as POTUS.
      Trump continues to digg himself in a credibilty hole with every misleading and inaccurate statement he publicly makes, to the point of raising concerns about his mental fitness for the job.
      Quico was right to say something like, we are in big trouble with the election of Trump, and so far that opinion stand right.
      I really hope that Trump succeeds, but his administration so far looks very chaotic to say the least and he has little if not support nor credibility with the international community, except maybe Putin.
      Some in his cabinet seem decent so I hope Trump takes their advice. But even his mom publicly said “he is too stubborn.”
      Trump still has time to redeem himself by his actions but time is running out.
      I can tell you this though, I would become a Trump fan if he helps to restablish Democracy in Venezuela.
      Unfortunately I dont think he would be able to do so before he is back to his former job.

  3. Nicolas might be worried and rightfully so. Trump needs a weakling to pummel in the schoolyard and the Chavistas are beautifully made for this role. Expect Russia and China to provide little support for the regime if Trump decides to make a Venezuela democracy a “pet project”.

    • Taylor, politically I think Venezuela is a low hanging fruit for Trump. He and Republicans would score points with hispanics. Besides there is bipartisan agreement on actions againts the Chavista Dictatorship. Unlike the difficulties with the mingling in the Arab world, Venezuela could remain stable after the return of Democracy for the long term and become once again a reliable US allied.
      That, assuming China or Russia dont get involve.
      After that Trump can go after Castro with more support from Latin America this time.
      This is a Win he would love to have and we too!!

  4. Toro, I agree with much of what you said about Trump save for we are in big trouble with the election of Trump, depending on how inclusive you meant by your use of “we”. Venezuela is not in big trouble as a result of his election. Neither is the world in big trouble because America’s role in the world for good or bad has dimished perhaps because our voters are concened about domestic issues. The issue is whether the US, which was fragmenting before Trump, a process that began with Clinton and accelerated during the Bush and Obama presidencies will continue on that course. The early indication is that fragmentation is getting worse but we will have to see.I hope for the best but if Trump can help restore democracy in Venezuela and 30 million people can get back to building their own free country, his election wont be a total loss.

  5. Mr. Toro, next time you give interviews, refrain from repeating the same bull***t the chavista propaganda screeches:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/10/venezuela-maduro-chavez-protest-caracas/505874/

    “… they’re putting metal wire across the street to literally decapitate motorcycle riders— that happened.”

    That never happened, one of the things about murder is that there will be an irrefutable proof: A corpse, and as well as the supossed “old ladies killed by the guarimbas because they couldn’t be reached by the ambulances” myth and all the stories made up by the “comitee of guarimba victims” which we all know are just chavista thugs that sold their family corpses to discredit the opposition.

    The decapitated biker myth is in the same level than the “LL blowing up kindergarners with a bazooka” from Delcy and the “sifrinos burned every barrio adentro within miles but we rebuilt them all from night to morning so there’s no evidence” from another chavista crackpot after the protests or the whole “oppos went into a murder rampage killing their own people to make the regime look bad” that’s been screeched since 2002.

  6. Support from the kind of leader who calls the press “the enemy of the American people” may bring hope for one man’s freedom, although I’m skeptical of even that, but not for a resurgence of Venezuelan democracy.

    People cast their vote for Hugo Chavez on the notion that they had ‘nothing to lose’ and as it turns out, they did. People are attracted to these figures because they exude clarity and purpose, even if it is the clarity and purpose of a demagogue and a scoundrel.

    I am glad the rest of the Venezuelan opposition leadership did not show up for that photo op, because it will undermine their integrity in so far as they represent a democracy movement.

    And my sincere hope is that Leopoldo Lopez, who has made an enormous sacrifice for his country, can get his family back.

    • Don’t worry about the rest of the MUD’s bosses, because they already have been bashing Trump since months ago, before he even started making his stupid jokes and behaving like an asshole and much before chavismo even bothered to mention him.

      In fact, that undermined the MUD’s integrity was actually falling into the regime’s trap of the 2016 dialogue, where they even went as far as signing that infamous document that makes official all the chavista lies, leaves all the political prisoners to rot and accepts that the oppositon is guilty for every single economic and crime related desaster in these 18 years.

      Way to go, “opposition” leadership, way to go.

  7. The comments are opening up a debate that is occurring in the U.S. now. There is a significant anti-Trump sector of the population that will oppose anything Trump says or does, regardless of the merits of the case. Indeed, if Trump were to claim that 2 + 2 = 4, there are many who would be inclined to disagree vehemently. This visceral rejection of Trump is blinding many to anything good that might come of this shake-up of the status quo. I too have deep reservations about Trump’s fitness to serve as President of the U.S. But that doesn’t mean that I disagree with every single one of his political positions. In this case, I doubt that Trump or his administration gave the larger issue much thought. In all probability, this photo-op was considered nothing more than a small favor to Marco Rubio. But, whether or not Trump intended this as a signal of a shift in policy, as Emi says in her article, “For once, Trump is making good on his campaign promise: to call things by their names, to shed political correctness. (And no, I can’t believe I’m writing this.) There’s certainty in Trump’s tweet, and certainty is in short supply in Caracas—just like toilet paper.”

    • People would always say to me about Chavez: “…but his social programs have helped the poor”. “He was elected by the people, you can’t just dismiss everything he has done”, and so on. These were rationalizations for a leader, and a government, that was fundamentally authoritarian and anti-democratic in its outlook. Sure, Mussolini built roads….

      At a certain point, there is a distinction, a pretty clear one, between seeking to shake up the status quo, and setting forth on a course to overthrow it. Here’s Chavez lecturing CNN and the press on what they should and should not do:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9v9hiL1ZpQ

      I think there is sometimes a clear distinction between shedding political correctness, and shedding the norms of democratic politics. It would be the distinction, for example, between a guy like Marco Rubio, who I think has approached the issue of Venezuela in good faith, if not to everyone’s agreement, and a guy like Donald Trump, who knows nothing about Venezuela, but knows what will attract notice, and deference, to Donald Trump.

      The guy who the same day is berating the press and the courts as a threat to America has a bona fide dissident of an authoritarian regime in his court! Classy!

      • “People would always say to me about Chavez: “…but his social programs have helped the poor”. “He was elected by the people, you can’t just dismiss everything he has done”, and so on. ”

        And they would be wrong, because neither the re-named social programs stolen from the 4th helped people to come out of poverty (Where the ones from the 4th DID), and the only election he won failry was the one in 1998, after the Smartmatic fiasco, every single election in chavismo has been a colossal fraud.

        “Sure, Mussolini built roads….”

        No, he didn’t, and that’s why he ended hung by the ankles, not even Hitler’s nazism managed to “build roads and make the trains run on time”, that “pragmatist” view of a dictatorship only exists in fiction.

        “…Marco Rubio, who I think has approached the issue of Venezuela in good faith, ”

        And has dropped much more shit on the chavista regime than Trump from much before.

        “The guy who the same day is berating the press and the courts as a threat to America has a bona fide dissident of an authoritarian regime in his court! Classy!”

        Because that authoritarian regime is openly attacking the country he rules.

        I’m no supporter of Trump, but whoever helps Venezuela to get rid of chavismo will be good on my book (And in that of the other 30-something million venezuelans too)

        • Both the ‘pragmatist’ justification of dictatorship and the ‘clear honest talk’ rationalization of the authoritarian leader are very attractive and popular points of view. My point isnt that they are right.

      • Damn! The bitch of this is that I completely understand both points of view. In this case, I suppose I feel like a drowning man who has been thrown a life preserver. I am not very inclined to reject it.

  8. Anybody remember how Italian independence was won , by a smart gentlemen by the name of Cavour interesting Napoleon the III (a milder version of Chavez) – to intervene in Italy both to gain glory and to get two new provinces from the Italian Piedmont to add to his french Empire …..Why did the French Monarchy aid the American Patriots in their war of independence , because they wanted to get back at the Brits for their humiliating losses in the 7 years war….,how britain and the US allied themselves to Stalin to fight the Nazis . We musnt forget how often flawed motives can lead some sometimes unsavory characters to help with a good deed……and just appreciate that the good deed was done !!

    Being too primly puritanical in morally condemning aids or alliances from somewhat flawed characters that can help our cause is a puerile form of moral snobism …..not worth arguing over……!!

    History again and again teaches us that some great good can come from pols who otherwise have not been angels in others aspects of their political career….LBJ for example , should MLK have refused LBJ’s help getting civil rights legislation approved because of LBJ’s past cavorting with some Southern Segregationist Congressman ??

    This attitude is silly beyond words !!

    • I think where my main difference with you lies is your suggestion that Trump is a ‘somewhat flawed character’. Like say, LBJ. The man is, among other things, an outspoken advocate of torture, something some Venezuelan political prisoners know something about. He stands in my view for everything Venezuelans should be struggling against, including rank ignorance.

      • NO quarrel there except that in the pickle we are in we cant be too finicky in choosing whose help we are prepared to accept , If guys like FDR and Churchill allied themselves to a guy like Stalin to defeat Hitler , then we should be glad to have someone like the frightening Mr Trump standing behind us ….!! we have to be pragmatic and realistic , and also take account of the fact that if Trump is taking up the banner of Venezuelas freedom it has a lot to do with the strong support that has with a large part of the US political world , including many of the influential Republican party leaders who accompany his government …!!

        • Well, according to Breitbart, the meeting with Trump wasn’t planned. And on that note, it all now makes sense.

          Tintori has become, I’m prepared to believe unwittingly, a protagonist in Breitbart’s (Bannon’s) war against Pope Francis. Trump met with Tintori, the story goes, and the Pope refused -even when she was chained to the Vatican fence to get a meeting with him. (I won’t link the story, because in Canada at least, a frightening anti-immigrant ad appears).

          Trump keeps his vow to Oppressed Latinos! says Breitbart.

          Unbelievable. Lastima que despues de Chavez, caigan en eso…

    • Excellent point. At the very, very least, the oppo needs to start thinking about the realpolitik involved like grown ups. Otherwise you’d prove that you’re no less fanatically utopian than the socialists who oppress you.

  9. There is no dilema. We can’t overthrow the regime without the help of the US. So,we have to come closer to Trump. What he does in his own country is not our problem. If he is indeed impeached, then we have to become closer to the next guy and convince him to follow Trump on this, because as I said, we can’t overthrown the regime without the help of the US. Providing of course that we actually want to overthrow the regime, because I am sure that some oppo leaders don’t want to overthrow the regime, they simply want to get along with it, which they know will never happen but it still doesn’t prevent them from comiting any treason or making any concession just to prove that they don’t want to overthrown the regime but want just to get along with it, which of course the regime is not interested in it at all.
    What troubles me is the fact that most of the oppo think otherwise and in fact have done nothing to approach Trump and have actually attacked him.At first I thought that it was just naivete. “They are just wrong and naive- I thought-they really believe an electoral win is enough”. But after the last failed “dialogue”, I understood that some of those leaders must be acting in bad faith and that they simply have no intention of overthrowing the regime. Some leaders are too corrupt, others are cowards, others are stupid. After the terrible violence in 2014, they had only logical decision to make: follow Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina and Ledezma. Instead, they simply made the worst choice, the most ilogical choice, a mistake which they will never accept because they are too proud, they might say that is a matter of principles, or that people like me are too dumb to understand them, but it is only a matter of pride.
    Now, I have no idea what Venezuela meant for Obama. Obama and those oppo leaders actually got along very well, as we all learned with the Jacobson scandal. For some reason, he didn’t invest in overthrowing the regime. Maybe those oppo leaders really convinced him.
    De cualquier manera, de todos los errores que la oposición ha cometido en 17 años, el más estúpido y al mismo tiempo el más grave y el más inhumano fue pensar que permitir el colapso social y económico del país podría llevar a un cambio político. Esa tesis, que de entrada es ilógica, fue la que impulsó de hecho la mala decisión de considerar la salida electoral como única opción, incluso cuando la dicha salida electoral era ya desde hace tiempo imposible y el régimen había demostrado de mil maneras que no iba a permitir una democracia. La lección que hay que aprender de todo esto es que en el momento que las instituciones democráticas son amenazadas y están a punto de derrumbarse, hay que actuar energéticamente en su defensa, sin vacilaciones.El chavismo ganó no sólo cuando derrumbó a las instituciones, sino cuando logró que la boliburguesía se convirtiera en la absoluta clase dominante, que dominaba los medios y las relaciones de poder en el país.La conclusión es que al sistema chavista hay que derrotarlo por 1-la violencia; o 2-un movimiento de desobediencia civil muy fuerte, unido y organizado. La salida electoral es imposible, y de hecho, considerar que es posible es un error estratégico, porque si la gente cree en una salida electoral entonces no se va a sumar a un movimiento de desobediencia civil, y para avanzar, el sector electoralista puede incurrir en criminalizar al sector en rebelión.

  10. U.S. State Department follows up on Trump’s tweet with a formal statement that not only does not conflict with Trump’s comment, but actually appears coordinated and coherent: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article133576394.html

    “The United States reiterates its dismay and concern about these arrests, and other actions taken by the Venezuelan government to criminalize dissent and deny its citizens the benefits of democracy,” Mark C. Toner, the deputy department spokesperson said in a statement. “We call for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience, respect for the rule of law, the freedom of the press, the separation of constitutional powers within the government, and the restoration of a democratic process that reflects the will of the Venezuelan people.”

    • If the situation in Venezuela really does get on Trump’s radar and he says some action needs to be taken, rest assured action will be taken. If there’s one thing everyone should have learned about Trump by this point, it’s that he doesn’t talk to just to enjoy the sound of his voice like Obama.

  11. Trump, the USA or any other nation will not DO anything at all for Venezuela. A few politicians might say a word or 2 once in a blue moon, that’s it. Followed by no action. Venezuela is not the center of the universe, every country has a multitude of problems to deal with first. Venezuelans have to deal with their own crap. When have we helped other countries with their own problems, hunger, lack of medicines, wars, etc? So now people keep talking about the USA and others coming for the rescue of Venezuela.. Dream on, it ain’t gonna happen. It’s not like Trump is gonna send trillions of dollars, or the FBI to arrest the Chavistas, invade the country like they did to remove Noriega in Panama 40 years ago. Ain’t gonna happen.

    Macri? He won’t move a finger either, for Venezuela. He might also say a word or 2 every 5 years, that’s it. Politicians are what they are. All talk. No country intervenes in other affairs, unless you’re in Africa, Asia and remote areas. Almagro, the UN, the OEA, , what do they do? NOTHING.

    Unfortunately, Venezuela will continue to get even worse: crime, inflation, horrific economy, world-record corruption.. and on top of that, the few people that do get a good College Education, the few talented Professionals, they will continue to leave the country, first chance they get. Massive brain drain. What is left? Very few good professionals, anarchy, and millions of uneducated pueblo people: a veritable mess.

    Could the MUD do anything one day for Venezuela? Not much at all. Not even Leopoldo Lopez. The entire society is corrupt, to the bone, including the military, including most of ‘el pueblo’. Puro Guiso, everywhere. It would take several Generations to start fixing Vzla. Educating people. Policing the thousands of criminals. Starting to produce something, that’s not cheap, heavy oil. Anything. Tomatoes, fish, cows, besides what Polar barely produces. Export bananas, yuca, avocados, anything.. ain’t gonna happen.. Plus all the oil was already given out to the Chinese, so, as the Domincan song says “ojala que llueva cafe del cielo”..

    • Venezuela’s regime has been smuggling tons of drugs to USA during years, that should be considered an act of war.

      Also, forget about that whole “Venezuelans alone will get free from the regime” rubbish, the country’s civilian population is completely helpless against the regime.

      “It’s not like Trump is gonna send trillions of dollars, or the FBI to arrest the Chavistas, invade the country like they did to remove Noriega in Panama 40 years ago. Ain’t gonna happen.”

      No one’s asking for that, stop whining that idiocy that the only international help possible is an armed invasion, what we’re asking them to do is that they hit them where it hurts, in their bank accounts, in the trillions they stole, confiscate all that shit, and send them back to the rancho-marginal-poverty from where they came from, make them pay dearly for screwing themselves in the power, make them pay for not letting the people to have clean elections.

      For every dollar or euro they take outside Venezuela, confiscate 100 of them, MAKE THEM FUCKING PAY and see how long they’ll last.

      As Reinaldo Dos Santos once said: “Hit them in the wallet, because that’s all what they care about”

      Also, did you think they won’t arrest those bastards? What about Ren and Stimpy the NARCOSOBRINOS then???

  12. Emi, a truly Atlantic-worthy extremely well-written and thought-out article. I’m not worried at all about LA reluctance to support sanctions against Venezuela because Trump does support them; It behooves LA economies, largely dependent on U. S. trade relations / commodity purchases, to maintain good relations with the U.S. super-consumption economy.

  13. It is reported that Trump yesterday called the president of Panama and spoke about the need to do something about Venezuela , this call follows on other calls to Santos , to the Peruvian President and to Macri , there is more US and international activity regarding the Venezuelan situation than was the case only a few months ago , and its increasing and becoming more assertive and peremptory each day that passes .

    At the same time Venezuela is facing a critical juncture in its finances , revenues are down , oil production is falling steeply , hunger and poverty are documented to have risen to record proportions by the studies of 3 mayor Venezuelan universities……..,

    The motives may vary but the regime is facing a wall of condemnation and a worsening situation both on the international and domestic fronts which it never had to deal with before ……the april payment of 4 billion US$ looms with little sign of how Venezuela is going to meet these payments…….!!

    Not saying that any of these events by themselves are in isolation going to bring the govt crashing down , but if you add them together you are seeing the coming of a rush of events that can seriously threaten its survival !! The pressures are increasing in a way that cant be ignored with the plaintive warning of our resident trolls ( always changing their names but writing in the same style) ‘abandon hope all who expect the govt to fall, it is invincible , no one cares one whit about what happens in Venezuela and never will , and the oppo is helplessly corrupt and inept and will remain so forever’ , we will see about that !!

    By the way was able to confirm from a BCV contact that the reason for the delay in the arrival of enough new bills to replace the old 100Bs bill is because the Regime doesn’t have the money to pay for their purchase , moreover a lady whose daughter lives in Sweden , saw on Swedish TV the report that a large amount of Venezuelan bills which are already printed cant be sent to Venezuela because of the govts lack of cash to pay for it…..!!

    What can you say of a govt that doesn’t even have the money to pay for the bills which it has ordered printed ?? maybe that its BROKE !!

    • Bill Bass,

      I agree with you about the trolls. The styles change a little, but the themes are consistent with what the regime wants ordinary people to believe, “All is lost! Save yourselves, if you can!”

      I am also sensing a sea change in the winds. I would add to your list of indicators that LL and PJ are re-initiating the street protests. It may well be that LL has his finger on the pulse of the country and the world better from his prison cell than all of the rest of the Oppo politicians have from the National Assembly Hall.

      • Your acussations simply make you both look dishonest and stupid, because one thing is to strongly dislike what a person thinks-writes, and another is to imply that such person is in fact a part of larger conspiration that no one believes and that makes no sense.The moderator of this page can see my IP and know my mail, and can easily tell if any user is in fact using more than one name. You are only displaying tremendous mendacity. In any case, it should be obvious, even for the.most dim witted individual, that as long as we keep the enemies at home (the same corrupt, stupid and cowards politicians and everything that surrounds them), we will never manage to initiate any true action against the government.That is my point, the one you don’t want the people to read, even though it is fairly simple, honest and clear.. People will not answer any call, not even a call by Leopoldp Lopez, if they don’t taste first some blood, and by that I mean if they don’t see those corrupt, cowards and stupid so called leaders be punished publicly and called what they are. It is a strategic need. The real oppo has to do it before Maduro does.Give the people the taste of some blood, and only then people will react and have the motivation to fight and answer any call.It is a matter of trust.

  14. A tweet and a photo opp are nicer. Officials sanctions, which is what the Obama administration did in 2015 and renewed in December 2016, are more effective ways (in my view) to hit the Venezuelan regime. Has the Trump administration actually announced new policies that are meant to bring the regime to accountability?

  15. Dear Quico:
    There’s more than has apparently met the eye here. One of Obama’s departing trove of presidential pardons was the release of Oscar López Rivera, a Puerto Rican terror convict. When Obama challenged Maduro to release Leopold, Maduro laughed and said he would if the if US let Lopez Rivera go.

    Trump is the first POTUS to actually think about Latin American outside of the box of US left-right political party attitudes. Latam leftists are not Democrats, they’re Socialists, and Latam RIghtists like Colombia and Honduras are not Republican, they are more akin to what US Democrats were 50 years ago.

    To me, Trump is a breath of fresh air, and this Leopoldo caper is a good omen.
    He even has the finesse to NOT mentioning the quid-quo-pro, and letting people like you notice and point it out.

    You seem to be getting the same whiff.
    I still claim you’ll one day be president of a new V.

    Go Quico!

    Warmest Regards as Always to You and Yours,,

    Deedle

  16. Every time Trump speaks he sounds like Chavez in some fashion. Trump will screw over the Venezuelan opposition in a second, if it will help him and his family. I understand your despetation, but the likelihood of Trump helping restore Venezuelan democracy is slim to none. This is a man who loves Putin and wants to be a dictator. (I am an American married to a native Venezuelan.)

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