Monday, November 21, 2016

Obama's debacle

I used to be upset when people in the US were surprised that I did not like spicy food. For them, we in Lat Am ate all Mexican spicy hot. Venezuela has actually a rather bland cooking, and hot is preferred by few for a few only.

I am reminded of that because as I am watching the Trump transition I am starting to get cold shivers. I am afraid that those Trump will put at National Security and State are going to see everything South of the Rio Grande as, well, the same thing. Just make a big wall and the US will be juuuust fine.

But this weekend I have been getting truly cold sweats as I am listening to Obama's farewell tour and his unseemly plaintive speeches as to the values of the West, as to wait and see on Trump even if Obama's eyes and tone say something else totally. Trying to pass the baton to Merkel was a sad moment. What we are witnessing is a man that realizes that not only his 8 years have been lost but his complacency may have greater consequences.

He has only himself to blame for that. I am not going to go into how he was slapped for the economy when he should have been thanked. Nor am I going to speak about his turning US foreign policy towards Asia so that in the end China may benefit more than the US. This one, after all, may have been unavoidable and the only thing any US president could do is to work out the time timetables and the distribution of bitter pills.  But I am going to speak with property on the mess that Obama is leaving Venezuela in.

The grand scheme of Obama was the opening to Cuba that he would start and Hillary would complete. One of the condition for the success of that policy was for Venezuela not to blow up. One reason was that Venezuelan money was needed to pay for Cuba transition. Another one was to allow Santos in Colombia to do whatever wicked game he had in mind. Yet another one was that the US did not care much about a country that would so willingly inflict so much damage on itself (can't blame the US for that!).

Unfortunately for Obama the old guard reared its ugly head in Cuba and decided that as long as the Fidel colleagues were alive no change would come. Maybe when enough of them were dead or gaga then, and only then, the dictatorship could start to evolve. Sometime in the next decade. And then oil prices bottomed out for the long run and Venezuela went broke, dragging Cuba down but repression up.

Thus Obama decided to wait and see, to let Hillary get elected and let her finish his legacy. Now he is not only getting neither, but his delays are going to make everything worse for the whole subcontinent.

In Venezuela Obama's last act was to defuse a break down just before election day. When tensions were rising he dispatched Shannon to browbeat everyone in the opposition. As it has always been the case, whenever Shannon intervenes, the democratic opposition of Venezuela suffers a set back. This time was not going to be different.  Within days Trump was elected president and instantly Obama lost any capacity of pressure against the Venezuelan regime. This one slowly but surely has started to rise again as the opposition concession of a truce at the bequest of Obama and the Pope has caused a rift inside. This rift threatens the dissolution of the front, with catastrophic consequences for the country.

In short, if Obama and the Pope wanted to avoid civil war in Venezuela they may have actually increased the chances of this happening. May? Actually I am almost certain. I am actually surprised at some of the bold recent moves that show that the regime is not even concerned by the OAS. Our fate is strictly with MERCOSUR and whatever the Pope may decide to wriggle through its mediation efforts (though for all appearances one even wonders about the Pope listening to the Venezuelan church). Peanuts, in the end.

In short for Venezuela there will be no recall election, there will be no liberalization of the electoral system, there may no be any type of election for at least a year, there will be more repression even though a handful of political prisoners have been released, etc. You see the picture. Only the deepening fo the economic crisis can force the regime to negotiate in fear of an outright hunger revolt of the chavista masses themselves.  I am not saying that Obama could have solved any of that, but now I can say that he made it all worse. In the end, with Hillary out, what good did the Kelly-Maduro short meeting do a few weeks ago?  Does it matter that Maduro's nephews are now in jail?  They were dumb and got caught. Tough shit!

What is left to do?  Well, for the good news. The odds that we will never see Shannon involved in Venezuela matters rise by the day.  The bad news indicate that Trump will be no improvement. Of all the candidates for State, none so far seems to have any interest for LatAm that I know of. At least we shall be grateful is the new Secretary is not openly pro Russian.

Our best hope? Since Rubio and Ros-Lehtinen have been reelected let's hope that Trump will farm out to them the matters on Cuba and Venezuela. At least they can place the countries on the map and know that in Cuba they do not eat spicy hot. If the regime stays in office Marco an Ileana would make sure they they cannot step out of the country least they get caught by Interpol.

Or something.


  1. You cant discount the probability that Raúl Castro is now tempted to continue to advocate a Stalinist system mixed with very small and weak private enterprise and joint ventures with foreign capitalists (a bit like China and Vietnam, but with limits on the growth of native private enterprise). This system would be run by a military caste topped by a Castro. This is what he is doing in Cuba right now. And there's no sign he would ever let go of Venezuela. On the other hand he and his leadership cadre may consider Venezuela the key piece in a future mini empire. Given the central command and control, the dogmatic nationalism, the militarism, the use of brown shirts, leader worship, and other traits, this budding empire would be using a hybrid of Stalinism and fascism.

    As for Ileana and Marco, they don't have the intellect to deal with Castros. Trump is a huge unknown, but the best outcome may be to see him shut down the efforts Obama made to keep both Castro and Maduro in power, and focus elsewhere.

    Regarding Russia, I suggest you hit the books. The best option for the USA is to resolve the conflict it has with Russia, and get them on the USA side. I know this won't go over well with you since you are obviously following the "common wisdom" as sold by the USA neocons. The Russians are simply responding to what they see as USA aggression, which began with Clinton, continued with Bush, and escalated with Obama. Hilary Clinton is a neocon golem, she may have risked nuclear war ratcheting tension even higher.

    And don't forget I'm not inventing this "crap". I worked and lived in Russia for almost a decade before I moved to Venezuela, and I know how the Russians think, why Putin is in power, and what he expects from the USA. I think Flynn does too, and I'm 100 % in tune with him.

    1. Anonymous8:47 AM

      Dear Fernando Leanme,

      Just what exactly is the conflict the USA has with Russia that you think can be resolved? And how exactly will the USA get Russia to come to their side?

      Easy words to write but hard words to explain!


    2. Anonymous11:58 AM

      The conflict between USA and Russia was manofactured by Russia in order for Russia to have an external enemy against which the people can rally and can justify repression and deteriorating economy. Venezuela under Chavista regime (and many other dictators worldwide) did the exact same thing, sacrifice relations with USA in order to keep domestic matters under tight control.

      Ironically acting extremely hostile against Russia (DEFCON 2 etc) would likely improve relations. Obama is meek and Russians feel comfortable with their brinkmanship. Add in a slightly insane and a completely unpredictable US president and they'll sing a very different tune very quickly.

      I hope so anyway. The future US president will fit the description, apparently.

    3. Fernando I don't follow your Russian/USA logic. It is highly in the better interest of Russia for oil prices to be high. It has highly been in the USA's better interest for oil prices to be low and one would argue still is at the present time. What common interest in Latin Americas, where Russia has always supported anything and everything against the USA, would they possibly share? Only way Trump and Putin take long walks together on the beach holding hands is if Trump is personally prospering as he is only about himself. I do not see a better life for Venezuelans with Trump in power and sure don't see Trump and Putin sitting down for a cup of tea to discuss how they will turn Venezuela around for the betterment of its people. Only way these two might logically work together is for Trump to say get the hell out of Latin America and we will stay out of your business while you exploit Ukraine and anyone else in Europo/Asia you desire.

    4. Anonymous11:56 AM

      My two cents: USA spends 10X more than Russia on defense. End of story.

    5. Anonymous12:08 AM

      Why do Canadians think they have the right to comment on the US? Visiting the US and living in the US are two very different things - stick to Canada and keep your opinions about our Presidents to yourself.

  2. Boludo Tejano10:44 AM

    In short, if Obama and the Pope wanted to avoid civil war in Venezuela they may have actually increased the chances of this happening.

    As both Shannon and the Pope have done little more than to enable the regime to continue its stonewalling ways, instead of pressuring the regime to act as its own Constitution dictated, you would appear to be correct.

    At least they can place the countries on the map and know that in Cuba they do not eat spicy hot.
    :) LOL. Speaking of spicy hot, it is not hard to find Tex-Mex food, as cooked in homes as opposed to what is served in restaurants, that is hotter than a lot of interior Mexican food. And as Tex-Mex doesn't have as much in the way of spices to blend with the heat as interior Mexican, it goes down even hotter.

  3. "In short for Venezuela there will be no recall election, there will be no liberalization of the electoral system, there may no be any type of election for at least a year, there will be more repression even though a handful of political prisoners have been released, etc. You see the picture. Only the deepening fo the economic crisis can force the regime to negotiate in fear of an outright hunger revolt of the chavista masses themselves.

    Tropical Dictatorships work that way nowadays..

    Leopoldo was right from day 1. The people will have to hit the streets.

    Or deal with that crap for years to come.

    Where would Cabello hide after all his crimes? Sweden? (just an example)

  4. Anonymous10:52 AM

    I think that US policy towards VZ and Cuba has a dammed if you do dammed if you don't quality. Right now the neglect shown has little bad affect on the USA. Miami Real estate may get a bit overheated, we get a huge percentage of VZs upper middle and professional classes working here at a discount, and no one lectures us on how bad "our guy" is running the country.

    Thought experiment, you have a time machine.. you can go back to do one of two things.

    1. Go back to Chile and keep Allende in power, assume he will be half as bad a Chavez..
    2. Go back to the early 2000s and depose Chavez, assume his successor will be twice as bad as Pinochet..

    Which would you pick?

    1. Anonymous12:03 PM

      verga chamo, can anyone talk about the present and speculate about the future with regurgitating the past? And if you are going to blab or babble about US FP, please don't bore me. Pura paja chamo...

  5. Anonymous11:57 AM

    The saddest thing is you are not blaming the main reason Venezuelans are in such a pathetic state.
    That reason of course is the Venezuelans.

    Take up your own mantle, fight your own battles, look inward. Why should anyone help when you yourselves will not do anything.

    BTW, you want to know a good way to help take down the Cuban government? Have the Cubans in the US, Spain, and all the other countries they've run away to, to stop sending cold, hard cash to their relatives. That sweet, sweet hard currency is doing more to prop up the Castros than the oil sent from Venezuela or the normalization of relations between the US and Cuba.

    Now stop whining AND HELP YOURSELVES!

    1. I always love to read idiotic anonymous telling us what to do instead of coming here and lead.

    2. Anonymous11:49 PM

      Yes, by all means go to Venezuela and possibly die for an entire country of cowards.

      Isn't there a true son of Bolivar who tried to lead your country by example? Where is he now? He's in a cell and you and your people barely acknowledge his wretched existence.

    3. Anonymous9:32 AM

      No one in Venezuela seems to be in a position to lead either. The fact the chavism still has many believers even if not supporting Maduro will make sure the future is a long and painful for everyone there.
      You will have to help yourselves because after such arrogance (Venezuelan) I doubt anyone else will.


    4. Agree entirely with anonymous as a gringo married into the Venezuelan mess.

      Since when was Obama the president of VZ? All I see is weak ass marches, people complaining and family coming out of nowhere asking for food, clothes, etc.

      Grow some cajones and do something about it!

  6. Wait, you're not Mexican? Good post. I hope matters improve despite these developments.

  7. Anonymous11:58 AM

    Back in the real world: Tom Shannon is in Ccs. He is leaking to the media (FNL) that hostage Joshua Holt will be released by Dec 6. Some are wondering if he will return with Josh sooner

  8. " I am not going to go into how he was slapped for the economy when he should have been thanked."

    If you look at the map of where Trump got votes and where Clinton did, you would find that the only place Clinton won were heavy urban areas with large numbers of people getting various forms of government assistance. Everywhere else was won by Trump. The reason is that due to Obama, we have lost millions of votes. When Obama was elected, over 66% of Americans had a job. Now, less than 63% of Americans have a job. Why is this? It is due to Obama giving all kinds of government assistance to millions of people so that more are dependent on government and will always vote for the democrats.

    Obama was our version of Hugo Chavez. Certainly, not so far to the left, and not a complete idiot when it comes to the economy. However, he was the farthest to the left of any president we have had so far.

    The worry is that every time we have a leftist president, it moves the country farther to the left one step at a time until we end up with someone similar to a US Hugo Chavez who will essentially destroy the country in ways similar to what Hugo Chavez did.

    One of the things many may not like is Trump's new immigration policy. Trump will build fences and walls on the Southern border. He will put in place work rules that will make it hard for Illegal aliens to work in the US. For example a system called E-verify. He will go after any illegal alien that commits a crime and deport them. He will end all government benefits for illegal aliens such as welfare and food stamps. This will hurt mainly Mexicans as they have the largest number of Illegal aliens in the US. Trumps immigration policy will still be less harsh than Mexico's immigration policy towards US citizens.

    1. Bob G off course a democratic gov't moves left and a republican on moves right. Both ultimately just seek votes and have different ways of going after them, usually rewarding their base of support. Generally republican policy is best as socialism never helps no one long term. However, you cannot forget that when Obama took over from Bush the country was in economic shambles and in free fall and hated by majority of the world. 8 more years of Bush and the country would look a lot worse then the 8 under Obama. For most part the effects of the current gov't are more seen in the following gov'ts time and is why a Party looks good for 1 or 2 terms then looks bad.
      As for Trump he has already backtracked on almost all election promises so don't count on anything he said regarding immigration either. Trump will simply do what is best for Trump and although he inherited a fortune he was likely near bankruptcy but rest assured when he is done his term(s) he will be a billionaire. If the country benefits as one can only hope at the same time then good on it.

    2. Bob g

      We are not managing the same data hence there is no point arguing.

      I shall point out that at last count Hillary is ahead by 2 millions which kills any "mandate" claim Trump and GOP may have cherished. This goes a long way to explain how Trump is already watering down his electoral fire and brimstone.

    3. To answer both, when Obama took over, a plan was already in place and had been funded in the last year of the Bush presidency to "fix" the banking crisis. This ran up the deficit by about 1 trillion dollars. A few things are not generally reported about this. The first is that Bush had tried 4 different times to fix the banking law that made the problem possible but democrats did what is called "fillibuster" in the senate to block these changes. Next, the banking law was passed in the last year of the Clinton Presidency and that provisions allowing the deregulation of derivatives was added by democrats to that bill. This deregulation is what caused most of the problems. So, the banking crash was hardly Bush's fault. But Bush was blamed for it anyway. Note, I dislike Bush intensely so I'm not writing this because I like the guy. It is simply what happened. After Obama took office, he continued to spend hundreds of billions of dollars extra over what Bush had spent in every year but the last one for some years and compared his deficit to the last year of Bush's term which had the trillion for fixing the banking problem tacked on. Finally, in the US, there is a lot of fraud in our elections. The way it works is that there are laws protecting the privacy of elections. Democrats have opposed measures to make sure that only citizens vote as is legal. Many believe that there are anywhere from a few hundred thousand illegal votes to millions. But the way our law works, once a person is allowed to vote, proving voter fraud is almost impossible. Here is a youtube of Obama encouraging illegal aliens to go out and vote.

      No one knows how much voter fraud there is in the US. But there is quite a bit. I have witnessed it myself as a volunteer at the polling places. I have known that some votes are fraudulent but due to the rules could not do anything except report the issue to authorities which in my case were democrats who simply disregarded it. Republicans want laws that make voters present a valid government issued ID in order to vote. This would prevent much of the current voter fraud.

      Hillary won over 94% of the black vote, 65% of hispanic vote, and 17% among white males. Trump overwhelmingly won with college educated men and around 50% of college educated women. Note, our system is an electorial college system. Trump was trying to win the maximum number of electorial votes. Not the maximum number of votes.

    4. Bob g

      You are writing to us assuming that we know nothing of US politics, that we did not know any of the factoids you present.

      Be assured that some of us have watched primary debates from BOTH sides and have followed the whole show until election day. Along the way we have learned to sort what is BS info and what is more legitimate. I am sorry to tell you that in my opinion the Trump camp was way richer in BS info, which may be what in the end the reason he won. After all in politics people prefer to hear what they like rather than what they should.

  9. Anonymous11:55 AM

    Trump is playing nice to Obama right now hence the perceived watering down. There will be no watering down once Obama is gone.

  10. "You are writing to us assuming that we know nothing of US politics, that we did not know any of the factoids you present. "

    Actually, I assumed you followed fairly closely US politics from the news media available to you. I also thought that had I lived mainly in Venezuela or South America for the last few years and were a South American, I would be leaning towards the same opinion you have expressed.

    I have spent over 3 years in Asia, a couple years in South America, 3 years in Europe. I speak 3 languages with enough fluency to conduct my daily affairs in the language. Most of my life though has been spent in the US. I have also lived in 6 states in the US. For an North American, I have a have a more cosmopolitan background than most. I also know about the media and information available to people outside of the US.

    What has happened is that most of the mainstream media has become "corporate" media with a very progressive bent. In the US, those who listened mainly to corporate media were fairly sure Hillary would win. Hillary was already planning her victory speech and had already had a couple of victory celebrations. On the other hand, those of us that follow a wide variety of Media knew Trump would at least have a chance and could certainly win. Many though he would probably win at least a few days before the election. I was one of those who thought he would probably win.

    My point is that for those who have access only to corporate media or progressive media (or for some reason only listen to that type media) have a very distorted view of the US election and of Trump.

  11. Clinton and Trump both would have sucked as president. The only thing one can be assured is that if Trump makes anything better it is only in his selfish interest. He cares less about America and Americans then Chavez did Venezuela and Venezuelans. If you want to fix Americas trade issues and economy it is simple. Implement a labor standards trade tarrif. If any country is importing goods manufactured below certain labor standards it is heavily tarriffed. Is a trade law that the developed world would support and would stop manufaturing moving to countries they can produce cheap due to exploiting labor. As far as illegal immigrants and Trump could make the situation better by sending the ones he employs home.

  12. Take heart, Daniel. It is going to get better. Trump will not be cozying up to the dictators. The economy is going to rebound astronomically. A weak US led to world chaos. It's not going to be easy to fix, but at least we have a chance - and you will too.

  13. Shit. Once again your pessimism is on target. I was trying to glean some sort of comfort from Capriles the other day: "If the Pope asks, you try." Then, "in one week we will know." Then the slow realization that the slime balls win again. Now its December 6 when we get the big result! Anything short of general elections by mid 2017. Meanwhile Maduro's latest call to have a "permanent" dialog table is unbelievable. Just respect the fucking constitution, right? The Assembly should be running the country already simply through legislation and oversight. Wasn't the first "desacato" from simply ignoring the amnesty law? It wasn't optional. The property rights law wasn't optional.

    Which leads one to suspect that in the BEST CASE scenario of the regime "respecting" the Assembly, how would this actually play out? Can anyone believe in cohabitation with the regime at this point in the game. Isn't 'el golpe" sounding better? I don't think Trump would mind "soiling" his democratic credentials by openly supporting a coup. Would it be fragile? Would it be illegitimate? Does it matter at this point in the game? A democratic transition is what the 2/3 victory of the AN was suppose to prove, start, undertake. 2/3!!!. Any "normal" government would have taken a hint. A PM would have resigned. A government that did not see themselves as the last bastion of communist internationalism would have said: yeah, things are a mess. Now opposition you take this stinking pile of shit and lose all credibility after we truly do everything can to sabotage your success. We have 100s of millions of dollars to destabilize your every effort at normalization. How many of the 500 generals do you have to appease?

  14. Anonymous12:05 AM

    Cuba would not have been opened with Hillary in office. Only Congress can lift financial restrictions and that will not happen under Trump. The only way Venezuelans will survive is to overthrow Maduro. Trump may actually be helpful. The US will continue on the road to energy independence which will keep oil prices low. Oil producing countries will have to rely on something other then oil.


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