Venezuela made the cover of The Economist this weekend: kudos to Nicolás, it’s a real achievement in the field of screwing-up-your-own-country. The venerable English newspaper (as, inexplicably, this publication-that-is-very-obviously-a-magazine insists on styling itself,) has been a clear backer of “team screwed” for some time on its pessimism for our country. Now they’re doubling down:

An astonishing 93% of them say they cannot afford the food they need, and three-quarters have lost weight in the past year. The regime that caused this preventable tragedy professes great love for the poor. Yet its officials have embezzled billions, making Venezuela the most corrupt country in Latin America, as well as the most ineptly governed.

The piece then goes on to describe the worst-case scenarios for each side, government and opposition, post-Constituent Assembly, which is more or less what you would expect:

It will complete the destruction of the powers of parliament (…). Opponents say the assembly will install Cuban-style communism. At the very least, its creation will provoke more violence in a country where the streets are already choked with tear gas and littered with buckshot from police shotguns.

But the real focus of the article is on how the international community should deal with the crisis in Venezuela. The Economist’s proposal? Let Maduro finish out his term and negotiate a transition.

Basically, diálogo.  

Turns out The Economist is not Team Screwed, it’s Team Manuel Rosales.

Next come the ritual admonishments to the opposition to get its act together, be a serious alternative to the government and pick a single, unifying leader. Fine words. Easier said than done.

Arguably, the most interesting part is their recommendation to European and Latin American countries to take measures against specific Venezuelan government officials, following the U.S.’s lead, and to share information on where these people’s assets are.

In contrast, the piece argues that measures against the country itself, particularly those relating to the oil business would not only serve to give credit to Maduro’s claims of US intervention, Cuba-style, but would have dire consequences on the economy, and therefore harm innocent Venezuelan people, while those in power are insulated from the impact:

It will not, in itself, force the regime to change. But the stick of individual sanctions should be combined with the offer of negotiations, brokered by foreign governments. Any final deal may have to include legal immunity for senior Venezuelan officials. That is distasteful, but may be necessary to achieve a peaceful transition back to democracy.

I wonder if El Filósofo del Zulia has an Economist subscription.

You can read the read the rest of the piece at here.

42 COMMENTS

  1. I have to read the article, but it seems very interesting that they ask the opposition to get a single unifying leader. I sort of see why they would request this: centralizing decisions gives the unity bloc more power and a better source of control in negotiations. However, I think it is laudable that they have not done. Refusing to fight for that leadership position shows that they believe that personal ambition comes second. Even more importantly, I think that not choosing a leader makes it harder for the government to disarm the opposition: you can imprison one leader, but never THE leader.

  2. I’m sorry, but in this instance we should own our victimhood and also adhere to the principle of self determination. Isn’t that the international community’s wild card for when things get hairy? what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Haven’t they systematically turned their backs at every opportunity to help by not disrupting the natural course of events? I think we have to own our tragedy instead of bending backwards to please a random writer in the economist, and even less from -if they kill me and I die- Rosales (?). Any calls for dialogue today should be taken as a call to sacrifice our liberty in favor of Maduro’s, and our debt’s bond holders peace. I wonder if “pears from the oven” comes from “Peras al olmo” is that it? or did you really mean “Peras al Horno” Cheers!

  3. You won’t find that many people venerating the venerable rag – its been all over the place, from its endorsement of the Iraq War back in 2003 to its most recent endorsement of the LibDems and rabid anti-Brexit stance (strange for a rag that’s supposed to support laissez faire etc). Am glad Venezuela made it to the front of T.E. it brings attention to the plight of Venezuela. As far as that pompous’ magazines recommendations, most often than not they turn out to be precisely the wrong thing to do. Best ignored.

  4. Beware of pompous, unsolicited advice from intellectuals who are sitting in some remote, safe location, sipping on a whisky whilst sitting in an overstuffed leather chair, telling people fighting for their lives what they ought to do.

    What the US government ought to do is:
    1. Make any purchase of Venezuelan oil contingent upon the approval of the AN.
    2. Make the purchase of Venezuelan oil payable in food and medicine. Not one single dollar exchanged. (that ought to outrage Goldman Sachs and the Russians)

    What Venezuelans ought to do is:
    1. Keep fighting the fight. Don’t give up. The world’s eyes are upon you. Not a single rational person believes in Maduro and his Cuban puppet masters. And when the money runs out, the world is going to see Chavismo collapse like a house of cards in a hurricane.

    • El Guapo, you are right. The big problem is toughing this out. I will be toughing it out. All I pray is that Gloria Bravo Pueblo wins out in all of this. We all know, if you look a this from a macroeconomic perspective, Maduro cannot win. But they can really drag this out for a while and many more people will die, will be tortured, imprisoned and neighborhoods terrorized as long as they are in power.

      Sanctions will crush this regime quickly. No sanctions, well might be another shitty Christmas in Venezuela and Diosdado is the Grinch.

      A humanitarian intervention will be a magic bullet, but will not likely happen.

      We have to get the word out there.

      • It has been true throughout history that the more courageous the people in supporting a just cause, the more the world admires them. I said here before, you guys can turn into world leaders, not just in the coming days, but in rebuilding as well. Maybe that’s ironic, maybe not. Virtue always leads, even if takes time for the world to recognize it. There is no death, in virtue.

    • “Not a single rational person believes in Maduro and his Cuban puppet masters.”

      Has anyone noticed in the international press that the sotto-voce involvement of Cuba ( meaning its apparatchiks) is never mentioned?

      • You will notice that some comments in the Economist decry “foreign intervention” in Venezuela, but with nary a mention about Cuban intervention in Venezuela.

  5. What if Maduro cancels the 2018 general elections like they did with the regionales? Then what? That’s one of the main reasons people are in the streets, they don’t believe there will be any elections in the future.

    • Very easy to do. The new “Constitution” will state the following. 1)The incumbent President will serve 5 years from the establishment of the new “Constitution.” After 5 years under the new “Constitution.” there will be Presidential elections.
      My comment isn’t giving them any ideas. I imagine they’ve already come up with a similar solution.

      Recall the CC article on Pseudolaw.

      • Zactly. And they might toss in a law as well that says that community councils will select mayors and governors. 2017 regional election problem, solved.

        • Anytime chavismo has lost a power in an election, they create another parallel power to replace and strip it from its powers.

          They did so with the Metropolitan Mayor Office, several governorships, the AN, and will do so too with the presidency.

          The prostituyente IS THE REPLACEMENT FOR THE PRESIDENT.

  6. Limp as a noodle is the phrase that comes to mind when I read the Economist’s prescriptions. The magazine/newspaper always concludes that nothing can or should be done.

  7. Well, rather than reading what some ivory tower academics write, maybe i is time for readers of CCS Chronicles to start writing to important publications, institutions, congressmen etc about Venezuela really needs. It is one thing to criticize. It is another thing to actually do something.

  8. Having a single leader is something useful to movilize ordinary peoples militant emotions , where passions have a human focus they tend become stronger ……this is a tactical thing , in practice to command a complex effort what you do need is a well coordinated team of people who know how to work together, The economist is right from a tactical point of view but having a single outstanding leader does not replace having a good organization …….,

  9. Closer to home from The Economist’s lofty and posh headquarters, president Santos of Colombia has said that his gov’t will not recognize the results of Sunday’s vote. He also said that he stands in solidarity with the people of Venezuela and hopes the country will soon emerge from the ‘dark ages’ which now prevail there (“Mi solidaridad con el pueblo venezolano, que salga pronto de ese oscurantismo”)
    http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/politica/no-reconoceremos-resultado-de-constituyente-en-venezuela-santos-articulo-705401

  10. Breaking News from Miami Herald: critic of Marco Rubio is sobbing that Trump has ousourced foreign policy in Venezuela to Rubio. Furthermore, Rubio could be up for an embargo. Remember that he represents Florida, a politically important state every election where there is an ever growing Venezuelan vote, and the Cubans are in solidarity with them. Rubio does NOT represent Louisiana or Texas.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/andres-oppenheimer/article164065057.html

  11. Doesn’t matter, as long as he is listening to what Venezuelans are telling him. Yes, Rubio is an ambitious politician. Nevertheless, that can work in our favor–in favor of what we actually want in Venezuela– whether you like Rubio or not.

    It never can be forgot that both Cubans and Venezuelans in Florida are a growing political force as a voting block in the strategic state of Florida (which most always decides the electoral college). That counts for something and cannot be easily dismissed.

    To all armchair quarterbacks in el imperio, just think what is going through the minds of people this weekend in Venezeua. Nervewrecking… If there are no sanctions, and no threats of an oil embargo, Maduro and crew will try to ride this out thinking the opposition’s spirit will eventually break and we will all be lining up for our carnet de la patria (in reality he cant win, we will not break, we only suffer longer when we just want this over NOW!!!!!).

    So please do some gunboat diplomacy in the language of humanitarian intervention- whether it is bluff or not. Then back up by an oil embargo. The sanctions on individual regime scum bags are just the icing on the cake in this scenario.

  12. Rubio is not my choice for a point man on Venezuela. He seeks the support of the old guard Cuban-Americans who cling to failed embargo policy toward the Castristas and may suggest something similar for Venezuela. Not all Cuban Americans agree with that approach, some supported Obama’s direction change. Part of me holds to the thought that Venezuela is not and will never be Cuba regardless of how much influence Havana has over the Maduro regime. Targeting assets and even going after those in the regime linked to drug trafficking might be a better bet. Also greater pressure on Latin American neighbours to come out against the regime and exert pressure themselves. All around condemnation of the regime from the region and a sanctions package would help.

    • I agree, I don’t think an embargo is a good thing. I also believe Venezuela will never be a second Cuba, we are actually worse than Cuba.

        • “All around condemnation of the regime from the region and a sanctions package would help.”

          Sorry, I used to be naieve and believe this… If this were true, Maduro would have already dropped the prostituyente. He is going ahead with this. The only thing that scares the shit out of these guys is an embargo or heavy sanctions on PDVSA. Thats it. If you do not have this at minimum, you have nothing.

          As someone who actually lives in Venezuela (do you live in Venezuela Baltasar? What stake do you have in this?) what we need is a full blown intervention. I doubt that would happen. So what next, go after these guys where it really hurts. That is the only way this will not drag on for months and months and months.

          • My immediate family including my mother live in Venezuela so my concern is not that of armchair foreign commentator. I lived most of my youth in a very different Venezuela than now but with my family still living there now My stake in what happens is real and true. An oil embargo would give the regime reason to dig in even more, Moses Naim has already point it out. Not to mention the increased hardship it would mean for ordinary folks who are struggling to get by now.

        • Gracian i can give you over 26 000 reasons why Venezuela is worse than Cuba.
          Well that was the murder rate, its probably higher now, Venezuelans in todays reality have no respect for life at all.

          • Perhaps ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than Cuba should be replaced with differences between Cuba and Venezuela. Our Venezuela has a strong history of democratic institutions, however flawed they may be, which Cuba arguably does not have. That history is part of our national memory & identity and is not easily erased. Geographically Venezuela is clearly not an island, although the increased isolation that we are seeing is worrisome. Cubans cannot walk across a border to buy food, medicine, health care, find jobs, emigrate, etc. Venezuela has a natural resource that’s in demand and that has a significant political role in its relations to the USA and other parts of the world. Venezuela still trades with the USA and its finances, currency, trade, are closely tied to that nation. Cuba went from Spanish colony (until 1898) to U.S. ‘colony’ after the Spanish-American war, to Soviet ‘colony’ after 1959…you get the picture. Despite the Cubans in Venezuela, Venezuela remains / will remain Venezuela and not Cuba.

  13. ” Let Maduro finish out his term and negotiate a transition. ”

    Obviously the Economist writer doesn’t know or is thinking that people won’t realize the fact that with the prostituyente there won’t be elections never again in Venezuela.

    And also there won’t be any negotiated transition that implies any benefit for the country, because chavismo will either replace maduro with another enchufado / cuban puppet or will try to eradicate the opposition in an orgy of blood and bullets like we’ve never seen before, the ghost of the genocide starts to rear its ugly head in Venezuela.

  14. To argue that Maduro should be allowed to finish his term, implies that he is legitimately serving as the VenezuelanPresident.
    Hitler was also elected.
    Maduro’s legitimacy ended when the unconstitutional denial of the recall referendum was engineered by the regime controlled CNE .
    Just as the Nazi’s stole the assets of the Jewish victims of their terror, this regime has stolen Hundreds of billions of Dollars from the people of Venezuela.
    The genocide that was carried out under the Nazi’s used torture, mass detention and gas chambers.
    Starvation and lack of medicine has replaced the poison gas, but the results are the same.
    The Sebin has an uncomfortable similarity to the SS. The military tribunals without any rights for the accused are right out of the Gestapo’s handbook.
    After the fall of Hitler’s Germany and the reflection that was done by many historians and criminal investigators, many asked why nobody stopped Hitler in his early days. When it would have been easier to do and would have saved so many lives.
    I wish I knew the answer to what makes one country or people worthy of US or international intervention while others that suffer similar or worse fates do not receive the same support.
    If nothing else, the US has been consistent in our inconsistency. During the Cold War we were in bed with people as disgusting as this regime, in the fight against Communism. We now have the threat of a Communist regime that can risk destabilizing other countries in our hemisphere and our response is muted at best.
    Likewise, we have expended trillions of dollars of our nation’s treasure and thousands of American lives to impose a democracy on Iraq.
    The current situation in Venezuela is one of the few times that limited US intervention would have clear and achievable goals, with the support of the overwhelming majority of Venezuelan citizens and other American countries.
    Removing the current regime is not the solution to all of the challenges facing Venezuela. Just as a house fire must be extinguished to prevent further destruction and to allow for rebuilding, this regime must be removed for any viable solutions to be effective.
    Then the hard work of clean up and rebuilding begins. Nobody expects the firemen to stay and rebuild a home ravaged by fire and nobody should expect the US to maintain a presence in Venezuela.
    Colin Powell’s explanation that the problem with conquering a country is that you then own it, has no relevance in this debate.
    The US with cooperation from Venezuela’s neighbors should impose a complete embargo on Venezuela.
    An ultimatum should be given to the regime for a complete transfer of power within 72 hours.
    I believe that this would be sufficient for the regime to collapse without a single shot being fired by the US military.
    If the regime still refuses to relinquish power the next step is destruction of all air defenses, presidential palaces and military installations. Use of special forces to remove the leaders of the government and the military establishment.
    I am certain that we have a good understanding of the challenges connected to reining in the collectives. This is the job of the Venezuelan people and the opposition.
    The MUD needs to be able to hit the ground running and quickly take command of the country. This can be accomplished with the assistance of retired military officials that (hopefully) have been properly vetted to avoid the risk of one criminal regime being replaced by another.
    The MUD needs to act immediately to create a transitional government, with a leader that speaks for the Venezuelan people. The people need to access clear information, other governments need a head of government to communicate with and to coordinate aid into the country.
    There can be no power struggle and politicians jockeying for positions of power. That should be saved for election time.
    I will bet my house that the Venezuelan military, once faced with certain US intervention will collapse. The larger challenge is the criminals that control the streets and prey on the vulnerable Venezuelan citizens. Once the government sponsorship of the collectives is removed, the criminals will not be as brazen and the people will not be as vulnerable.
    We in the US have gotten it wrong so many times in the past that I fear our politicians have become gun shy and may squander the chance to get it right this time.

    • John, you are one person who actually seems to understand the issues and possible solutions. Salvation will not come from within Venezuela, for all the bluster and fighting talk that is evident on public forums like this.

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