Long time readers of this blog know it: Venezuela suffers under a dictatorship where drug traffic has played a major role, promoting corruption and the over all break up of the constitutional state. Yet, as long as Chavez was alive a fiction of democracy was maintained, a fiction where someone that was not a direct drug dealer was in charge. This week end events about how the Venezuelan regime used some of the worst thuggish ways to get back one of its capo taken away in Aruba prove beyond doubt that we are not into dissimulation anymore, this is an out and proud narco-state.
This post is not a translation of the preceding one even though the title are the same. Instead let's do an exercise in how to define a narcostate. Indeed, we are past the labels of XXI century fascism, neo-totalitarian or dictatorship regime. A narco-state requires an additional set of descriptions.
Historically in the Americas Venezuela may be the second official narco-state, the first one having been Panama under Noriega. We must note that heavy drug traffic influence in politics does not make a country a narco-state. For example the rule of law, as weak as that one may be, still holds sway in Mexico, Colombia, and even Honduras to name some of the potential candidates. A narco-state is the one where the upper hand in decision making is to protect drug traffic and its personnel. That does not mean traffickers rule directly: they are too busy making money to partake in the day to day matters of state. Their objective is that this state does not trouble their system, besides the occasional drug catch to quiet down international outrage, something duly taken as normal loss/expenses in accounting.
There is also a difference between narco-states in the Americas and those in Asia. There greed was the basic drive in Asia, though opium was used against imperial China. In the Americas greed is supplemented by anti US, or even anti Occidental values. The radical left here has embraced drug traffic as a way to get at the United States. And they have been helped along by the Cuban regime of the criminal Castro brothers. The longest tyranny in the Americas has been the one in Cuba which has offered haven for all sorts of defeated guerrillas and narco-guerrillas on the run. Including hiding the booty as long as the Castros got a take. The poster group has been the Colombian FARC who know pushes the chutzpah at negotiating a supposed peace deal with the Colombian government from Havana itself.
With the arrival of Chavez in Venezuela the Castro got the ideal student. A military coup monger, an abundant hot air producer, sitting on an oil stash that allowed a fake populist democracy, there was no need to rely on the unpalatable drugs for political financing. Unfortunately Chavez hanging around the FARC and harboring Bolivarian continental delirium brought inside Venezuela drug traffic. First to help the FARC and then as a bona fide local business where the Venezuelan armed forces took the lion's share.
It is too early to know when the transit to narco-state caught on in earnest. I personally think it started before Chavez was reelected in 2006. And it sped up fast after that. In 2007 a constitutional referendum that failed was designed to put all power into the hands of Chavez, making controls irrelevant. But that failure just postponed the changes through unconstitutional laws. By the time a dying Chavez was reelected in 2012 Venezuela had ceased to be a democracy. This blog is one of the many witnesses.
The narco-state was set up officially during Chavez agony. His death led to an open constitutional violation to seat Maduro as the heir, followed by the first outright open electoral cheating, when it was possible to document, for example, that the dead voted. Since then the struggle inside chavismo to control the level of powers have included drug traffickers among one or more of the factions in the struggle.
And last weekend, when we saw to which extend the regime would go to rescue one of its capo we knew finally that the narco-state was here, that the drug traffickers had won the game, that whomever would control the country would do so at the sufferance of the narco-folks. The narco-state was out and proud as it humiliated poor little Aruba, brought speedily the Netherlands to its knees and splashed egg on the US face. Just as your average thug neighborhood dealer would do if you crossed them even by accident.
So, what are the Venezuelan narco-state drivers?
First, it rules in the middle of anarchy and lawlessness. Venezuela is in chaos. Now you can even smuggle a ton of cocaine in a commercial flight without anyone of importance in Venezuela going to jail. Simply put, if you witness a drug deal, do not bother reporting it: nothing will come of it, or worse, you could become a victim yourself.
Second, the economic situation is of little concern. Drug traffickers work in dollars and euros. As long as they have the manpower to do their deeds they cannot care less about inflation and scarcity: they dollars will always buy what they need. Hence why the regime prefers to spend its time in internal struggle rather than tackle the economy: drug traffickers believe in circus above bread.
Third, it does not promote a particular ideology except the one needed to justify the front men in office. Chavez may have been a Marxist wanna-be, the ones who rule today are the military branch that allied to Cuba and got rich though corruption and/or drug traffic. There is no ideology in the army, just pretend loyalty. This fits perfectly with the methods of narco-mafias which require loyalty above all to ensure the deliveries are done as planned. Fascism is what comes the closest.
Fourth, it needs enemies, real or imaginary. That is a must to support not only a dictatorship but also a narco-state who is after all of criminal and immoral nature. An excuse is needed. Chavismo has offered plenty of enemies, from Colombia's Uribe to the Empire not forgetting the leftist antisemitism that has been comprehensively written upon by Daniel Hannan yesterday in The Telegraph yesterday, of which this blog has been honored with one of the few links used to strengthen the point made; giving me quite a lot of traffic.
I suppose that I could come up with a few more points but these four one say it all by themselves.
The real question now is what will the world do about it. In Venezuela the bulk of the opposition has proven not to have will and/or the ability to fight back. Few have principles and are willing to stand for them. Little support do they get.
Will the world listen or are we going towards a new wave of appeasement?