Venezuela should allow Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner & husband of @liliantintori (just met w/ @marcorubio) out of prison immediately. pic.twitter.com/bt8Xhdo7al— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
Let's start with an artistic comment of the shot.
There is an undeniable awkwardness. Rubio smiles at the coup he just did to recover fully the graces of his Cuban vote in Florida. Pence is dead serious. Perhaps even a tad bored? Lilian Tintori is so ill dressed for the occasion, looks like so out of place, that one wonders whether she was abducted to be brought to the White House from a Heidi themed party. Ironically the one that plays best his part is Trump. A little bit schmuck with his thumb up but more attune to the moment than the other three.
So, why the objections? After all this is a mere political moment where the President of the United States shows open support for the best known political prisoner of the Venezuelan dictatorship.
Some of the objections I have in mind come from the Venezuelan democratic left (chavismo objections are of course a given and today they made sure we knew about their displeasure by announcing that Lopez unjust condemnation could not be appealed further). Others from the US knee jerk left who accuse Trump, for example, of not being able to put Venezuela on a map. So let's unclutter a little, shall we not?
Some of the Venezuela democratic left remember the visit of Maria Corina Machado to George Bush White House in 2005. For sure that visit did not bring much help to Venezuela but at the very least allowed MCM to remain a street going political activist, getting injured a few times along the way. But Chavez did not dare to jail her after that. And yet many bemoaned the visit of MCM because Bush was a sanguinary tyrant bombing Iraq and what not. You could not even breathe the air he breathed even though every head of state did it, left or right, at some point, in spite of their very own criticisms over Iraq.
It is that lack of understanding between political interests and state interests that we find here again. It does not matter how Donald Trump despicableness ratio may be, that he appears with, say, Pence and Rubio should remind people that one thing are domestic political activities and another one are the state interests overseas. I am not defending Donald Trump here, I am merely pointing to the fact that we have three top Republicans on that picture, one who run a bitter campaign against Trump a few months ago. And I have not read much opposition about that meeting from the Democrats in the Senate. It is in every one interest that the Venezuela dictatorship is dealt with, or at the very least quarantined as the pestilent entelechy it is. Personal failings of Trump elsewhere should not distract us when he does what is right.
On the more mundane front, what else can you expect from Lilian Tintori? Her husband and father of two young kids is jailed for at least 11 more years, after an infamous and thoroughly vitiated trial. A trial which outcome was not totally unpleasant for some in the Venezuela opposition who did not like the shadow cast by Leopoldo over their mercenary mediocre aspirations for access to loot. Lilian will get any help she can. Period. And for those who will dare reproach that to her I will ask the pertinent question: what did you do yourself to help the release of Leopoldo. I am particularly shocked when some comment that Lilian visit does not help the Venezuelan opposition. A sorry lot that opposition is when Lilian has to resort to foreign help to free her husband. Surely they do not deserve her help.
As for Trump, for all my dislikes of his policies (note of full disclosure: I preferred him to Cruz and I have always been Hillary bound, way before Obama even) I will not call him dumb or stupid. No one stupid can win the complex electoral system of the US, even if they pretend to be dumb as needed. And ignorant I shall not call him either. He may lack a lot of depth in too many subjects for a president but that does not mean that he is vacuous. In fact, that he has supported Lilian so directly so early in his presidency, without any immediate gain for him should be a warning to his enemies that he has indeed some well thought priorities. You may not like these, and dislike the expressions of these, but they are there and they drive him. Just as people ignored these in Chavez at their own sufferings, so will those who dismiss Trump as a bumbling fool. Any subjective evilness that people may want to ascribe to him is for US voters to deal with, not Lilian Tintori.
A final word, in case there are Lilian bashers left after this. The current dramatic situation in Venezuela has been made much worse than needed over last year through Obama and his failed policies over Latin America. His pipe dream on Cuba, cautiously welcomed at first since the embargo had failed, has turned out to be a darker nightmare for Cubans an Venezuelans alike. Now he kites surf in the Caribbean. If Obama could not, or would not help Lilian, do not bitch when she tries her hand with Trump who is, after all, last time I checked, the president of the number one world power. Grow up!