Photo: El Nuevo Diario retrieved

The Editorial Board of the NYT recently published “Stay out of Venezuela, Mr. Trump”, which at first may seem like a good proposition. The U.S. has consumed a lot of goodwill and capital in interventions everywhere that didn’t do much in favor of regional stability or democracy. That alone is enough to sway the U.S. when it comes to planning another intervention while still dealing with a few unresolved ones.

But, this NYT article doesn’t help Venezuelans for two reasons: it’s terribly naive, and it seems to disguise some partisan intentions behind some concerns for Venezuela.

This NYT article doesn’t help Venezuelans for two reasons: it’s terribly naive, and it seems to disguise some partisan intentions behind some concerns for Venezuela.

Consider the Venezuelan situation: Some estimate that as much as 10% of the country’s population has fled, many of them on foot through dangerous roads while expecting xenophobic attacks and shut doors from their neighboring countries. Many are leaving due to terrible economic conditions, food and medicine shortages and to escape a violence that has reached armed conflict levels without being one. Venezuela’s political sphere is shattered to the point that no internal solution seems viable. Opposition leaders are either jailed or exiled and chavismo has been in control of all State institutions, political narrative and agenda for almost two decades. It’s easy for us to get carried away and dream about miraculous external solutions.

This situation won’t change as long as chavismo is at the helm. Not long ago, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, regretted that regional pressure against the Venezuelan regime’s actions took too long. The chavismo problem must be dealt with from all angles, and international pressure is essential.

Venezuela is being used today in partisan politics by both sides. Republicans use Venezuela as “exhibit A” of what socialism leads to, and now the NYT uses Trump’s intervention fantasies as an opportunity to attack his administration with little interest on the matter beyond the next election. There is some truth in both statements, but they reduce the Venezuelan issue to a one-liner for an alien narrative.

It’s unclear where the NYT is willing to draw the line.

The Venezuelan situation is complex and it doesn’t deserve an oversimplified treatment. Indeed: pressuring the government through its financing channels is a smart move. Forcing Maduro’s administration into economic policies that make sense is necessary. Using the diplomatic capital to sway China and Russia to do the same may come in handy. But Maduro will be in power as long as it can keep feeding the remoras that surround him and support him. Taking him out will require wit and a lot of backroom hard work, which is definitely preferable over armed intervention. But it’s unclear where the NYT is willing to draw the line. Clearly they’re against support for a coup, but are they against other means of intervention? Instead, the NYT proposes aid as a fundamental piece in the puzzle. It’s important given the current generalized Venezuelan collapse, but not a long term solution. Also: proposing Cuba should be encouraged to use its leverage is simply absurd.

Venezuela had, before the debacle, been a close friend of the States.The Caribbean nation was, for decades, a prosperous nation and a positive influence in the region, which welcomed political exiles and pressured dictatorial governments to resign.

There are things the United States can do, and I hope it doesn’t choose to do nothing.

 

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