Now that all objective observers have concluded that this is a military narco kleptocracy, what are we going to do about it? This is keeping many people awake at night, but not enough of them. Andres Oppenheimer writes today a piece that underlines that dealing in Venezuela is an urgent matter, that times works in favor of Maduro. He makes fair points and space limit probably did not allow him to develop. But that is where blogs come in handy.
I am in agreement with pretty much everything. The US must lead with sanctions that would hurt Venezuela AND the US a little to prove its point and induce other countries to do the same. Recalling ambassadors looks fancy but in the end when you are dealing with a narco kleptocracy it does not matter much to them. Only hitting at their pocket and their entourage will have an effect. If any. (1)
The part I liked best is his "3M" that could consolidate Maduro's regime for years to come. I summarize with my comments.
M is for Mexico. It has been very disturbing to hear the position on Venezuela from the people high inside the campaign of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He is set to win in July in a classical case of a divided democratic side against a single authoritarian one, around AMLO. There is nothing we can do about it, if AMLO wins Mexico may not defend Maduro but it will stop its support to the Lima group, and at the very least abstain at the OAS. That M is out of our hands except held in prayer.
M is for misery. It is indeed clear that the regime is genocidal. As all totalitarian regimes, it understands that a population prostrated in search of sub par food will remain prostrated, unable to revolt. And certainly not with enough effectiveness. We have already seen that: the popular areas that are the ones that most suffer today from the economical distress have little protest to show for, have abandoned the active opposition last year, and meekly went to vote for Maduro in exchange of a bonus or a case of food. Not all, of course and fortunately.
But as time passes, it becomes clear that there is already a large sector of society that is alienated, that lives day to day, that is almost animal like in their routine of seek and find. Keep in mind that those who were barely teenagers in 1998 have no memory of how things were and have been under intense propaganda for 20 years. At least a third of Venezuela's population today has no concept that things were different before as far as food and medicine are concerned. And are even less aware that they could improve. Most would settle for a return to the good old days of Chavez. I am tired to see that attitude in the workers that I supervise: they eat shit, they hate Maduro and yet they will do nothing about it. The totalitarian moral degradation has advanced more than what people imagine.
That second M is also bad because it will make it difficult to bring people in the streets for the truly massive protests that such a regime needs to be overthrown. Passivity is a true drag. But worse, if the regime is evicted, that alienated part of the population would be a drag on recovery and only too willing to return in the fold through any snake charmer.
M is for migration. This is where I disagree with Oppenheimer somewhat. For him the Venezuelan migration is a bonus for the regime for two reasons; it gets rid of potential opposition but it also will bring in currency as the exiles will try to send home some of their meager earnings as they slave their lives away under other skies. From an oil producing country to one depending on exiled workers to eat: chavismo definition of progress.
But that is not the whole story. The regime is not only clearly unable/unwilling to solve the economic crisis but it seems at times that it wants it to get worse. Maduro's reelection because it snuffed the last hope of many will send away at least 1 million Venezuelans by the end of year. And probably another million or two by the end of 2019. That would be a grand total for the last 5 years of maybe 5 millions, being conservative. The problem here is that of these 5 million as many as 4 million are unskilled work force, that comes from a country which has become primitive in many aspects, very laggard on how the world has moved in the last two decades. The ones that could leave by plane with their career or savings are mostly gone. The ones leaving now are doing it on foot, spreading all the way from Colombia to Chile, in numbers too large to deal with for these economies, and bringing disease to boot..
I think that a war with Colombia is now in the cards if Maduro remains in power more than a few months. I am not talking of a war of conquest, not at all. Just a few local entries inside Venezuelan territory to control the migratory flux, to put the refugees camp on Venezuelan soil and as a bonus to control the FARC that after the alleged peace agreement has found refuge inside Venezuela to continue its drug traffic and subversive activities. If the Uribe candidate wins on the first round next Sunday you can expect trouble fast. And trust me on one thing: the Colombian army will have a field day of it because the Venezuelan army is a mess of fat generals. And guess what? all the countries that receive Venezuelan refugees will support Colombia.
There is an historical precedent on such type of war: Indira Gandi was prime minister and made war on Pakistan to achieve the independence of Bangladesh. Why? Because Bengal province could not deal with the influx of refugees from the civil war of Eastern Pakistan. And what do you think was one of the main causes of the recent invasion and take over of a portion of Northern Syria by the Turks? To stop the migration flow and settle refugees in that Turkish controlled area.
But worry not: Colombia does not want to conquer Venezuela, a 5% of it is more than enough to park refugees there at the UN expense. After all what insane country would want to rule over Maracaibo?
1) I am not planning any post on the Holt affair. Some dumb red neck from Utah that should have known better came to look for a wife in Venezuela and lo'and behold, the regime took him as a hostage. The thing dragged on until the GOP chair Senator Corker came to personally retrieve him after giving Maduro a splendid photoOp. Tonight there is even a picture of Joshua Holt at the Oval office. The mind reels...
The Venezuelan dictatorship knows better how to handle the US than the US to handle Venezuela (and their puppet master, Cuba).
And the US cannot even get its revenge directly since there are many US citizens in Venezuela that could be tomorrow politica.terrorist.hostages.
Let's hope that Corker and Trump will get their sweet revenge soon. I am not sanguine.