The Heritage of Operación Cóndor

This article doesn’t seek to analyze the possibility of a U.S. intervention nor the geopolitics affecting that scenario. It tries to get a grasp of the effects that the Operación Cóndor is having on the politicians that want a change of government in Venezuela, but still refuse to support an intervention.

Photo: retrieved

The United States’ fear of losing power will unequivocally lead to the growth of the Left in Latin America. On one hand, U.S. international relations have relied on its military and economic power, rather than a friendly diplomacy, excluding—maybe—the Obama administration;  on the other hand, the Latin American left wing’s main narrative has always been based on the fight against “El Imperio” and its colonialist practices.

Today, the incarnation of American fear is sitting in the Oval Office. Thus, the left wing’s narrative is being well-fed and nurtured. We see it in Mexico, Bolivia and Venezuela. “The Wall” gave AMLO the ammunition for an electoral victory; Evo is given a golden opportunity to ramble on Twitter as an answer to threats of invasion; Maduro’s speech at the UNGA had his favorite gravy: Operación Cóndor. Every day, the left-wing brings back memories of thousands of murders, tortures and disappearances, the result of the CIA’s direct instructions in the 80s right-wing dictatorships.

We carry a burden, a heritage that will never be forgotten—and shouldn’t.

We carry a burden, a heritage that will never be forgotten—and shouldn’t. Operación Cóndor was the fight against communism that turned America into what it was trying to get rid of: a murderous superpower that prevailed by force, and not by freedom. The United States did prevent communism from rising in the 80s but at an enormous cost. Today, Operación Cóndor in Latin America is a cautionary tale against an armed intervention.

The Operación Cóndor was based on a simple premise: if the CIA helps the right-wing, Russia won’t be able to gain power. So, the CIA planned and executed coups with an impressive success rate. We saw Pinochet, Videla, Stroessner, Fujimori and Brazil’s long-standing military dictatorship grow strong due to American backing.

But to look to the North and blame the U.S for our deaths would be the denial of what Carlos Rangel said so many times in “Del buen salvaje al buen revolucionario”: We have an inability—or lack of willingness—to accept the responsibility for our mistakes and our tragedies. So, we look to the North.

This could not be better synthesized by anyone other than García Márquez himself:

“We were ready to absolve the CIA of all blame. In fact, with all of its power and money, the CIA could not have accomplished a thing without the connivance of the governing classes of Latin America, without the venality of our civil servants, and without the limitless corruption possibilities of our politicians.”

Let’s take a look at the story of Maria Macarena Tauriño, whose parents were kidnapped when her mother was pregnant while living in Buenos Aires. His father was tortured and executed. Her mother was forced to move to Montevideo, where she was kept in a clandestine detention center. Once she gave birth, the security corps took her baby and left her in a basket in front of Ángel Tauriño’s house. She was raised by Ángel and knew nothing about her origins until her grandfather told María that her mother and father were tortured and murdered for believing in communism.

But, we still find ourselves amidst an interventionist debate: The Venezuelan crisis is unsustainable, it’s hurting the entire continent and the government denies it.  What should we do, then?

Last week, The New York Times editorial batió el panal. Meanwhile, Mujica said that the sanctions were to blame, Almagro talked about the responsibility to protect, Colombia clarified “all options must be considered”, and the Grupo de Lima refused any violent intervention.

The fear of setting the precedent for an intervention is what motivates the Grupo de Lima to reject the U.S. proposal, not because of the weak “sovereignty” argument, nor a left-wing endorsement, but a visceral fear of living what they once lived. They do not want the CIA in their backyards once again.

Politicians all over America seek a way to prevent disaster, but our history is an obstacle for one of the possible solutions.

Politicians all over America seek a way to prevent disaster, but our history is an obstacle for one of the possible solutions. The intervention will never be accepted by many Latin-American actors because they already experienced it and fear it deeply. We will never see Bachelet openly calling for a U.S. intervention. She was tortured by a right-wing dictatorship which was protected by the CIA, and that’s one of the reasons for her involvement in the left-wing sphere: she lived the fear of the Imperio.

There may be two solutions for Venezuela: Venezuela beats the communist dictatorship by itself, which can be difficult due to the extreme damage the government has done to the opposition, or we start playing the game of Latin geopolitics right.

We need to use international actors to create trust and star operating as a real regional coalition. Our region needs to act beyond “comunicados” and “declaraciones”, nowhere near the active involvement of the U.S. to prevent that feeling politicians have in their gut when intervention and Latin America get mentioned in the same sentence.

Countries that once praised Venezuela for its free oil and for Chávez’s gifts are now being economically affected by Venezuela’s migration crisis. A solution to the crisis is pivotal for their economic growth.

The answer, after Operación Cóndor, has never been in the United States, but in our region. Let’s not feed the left-wing narrative, but the people starving in Venezuela.