I have been made aware of a rather curious, and definitely uncalled for, development taking place in the US: two congressmen want to put Venezuela on some list of states sponsoring terrorism. And of course, it could not come from anywhere else but Florida. Needless to say, if that resolution makes it through Congress it would be a God's gift to Chavez who would use it to root himself for ever and ever in Venezuela in a way that Castro would have dreamed of. I mean, imagine that, you are subjected to an embargo and you are sitting on a sea of oil at a time where all seek it desperately anywhere...
But before I get into some of the details let me make a single observation. There is an embargo against Cuba that has been lasting now several decades. There are definitely excellent arguments to justify or condemn the embargo. However there is a plain fact that is for all to see: Fidel Castro has managed to hand over power to someone else, is peacefully agonizing in Havana and will have state funerals and a nice mausoleum. In fact, by the time his heirs are replaced or even overthrown, Fidel will be history enough that folks might not even bother tearing down his mausoleum. And along the way Miami became the second Cuban city in the world... You can draw your own conclusions.
Now, the two folks sponsoring the measure are Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, known for her genuine concern and support of anti Chavez causes and Connie Mack whose reasons might have more to do about his own promotion. Fine, I can deal with that, but I also must state clearly that they would be making a terrible mistake, that they will hand Chavez an unexpected weapon that he will use efficiently to rouse his sagging support in Venezuela. In fact it might be just what Chavez needs to get the support he lacks these days to complete his take over of the country. After achieving that, courtesy of US Congress, it will not matter if people get irreversibly tired of him: there will be no peaceful way to fire him from Miraflores Palace.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen and Mr. Mack deserve all due respect but it is about time they get out of the oxygen rarefied South Florida meeting rooms. The real resistance to Chavez is not done in Miami, it is done in Venezuela. It includes the brave students who challenged chavismo and helped greatly in the referendum defeat of December 2. It includes TV big names such as Marcel Granier putting his neck out everyday. It includes modest NGO Radar de los Barrios close to the barrios, conveying the despair of those who feel betrayed by Chavez. It includes brave journalists in Caracas that must go to work everyday carrying along a bullet proof vest and a gas mask. It includes this blogger writing from the country side, from ground zero of the Bolivarian revolution.
All of these people have chosen to remain in Venezuela as long as they can, they have not left for Florida to wait it out as some of the more vocal "new-contras" have done (note: as it is always the case in such situations, the majority of Venezuelans in Florida are true immigrants, who went there to rebuild their lives and who in their modest way help as much as they can the anti Chavez cause as they have left relatives and friends behind, thus knowing quite well what is truly going on with the little folk in Venezuela; as such they have little to do with these vocal "new-contra").
These days Chavez fortunes are quite compromised. His polls have fallen below 50% for quite a while now and even the Colombia "war" has not been able to stop the decline. Most of Venezuelan supporters of Chavez have no idea what the FARC are, do not care whether Chavez supports terrorism, have no idea who Mack is: they are in for the hand outs and they will stay in as long as the hand outs keep coming. Thus if Venezuela is declared a terror supporter those who will suffer will be these poor Chavez supporters along all the opposition that has roundly condemned the dealings of Chavez with the FARC, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Lybia, and North Korea for starters.
In other words, those who will be punished through such a measure are those who have less to do with the crimes that Venezuela would be objected for. Those who actively support Chavez will have now a perfect excuse to actively embark in FARC support and destabilize Colombia, a most counterproductive action when one tries to visualize the goals of Mack and Ros-Lehtinen. And they will have the perfect excuse to oppress Venezuelans further under the pretext that we are under threat of the Evil Empire of the chavista lore: the US.
Chavez has had a problem: he does not have his heroic moment "Bay of Pigs" style. Giving him that propaganda tool is all what he needs to transform any of the moments where he was challenged into his very own imaginary "Bay of Pigs". Truth will not be a concern, we are talking effective propaganda here. And as his government is finally showing signs of implosion due to its incompetence surely a life jacking jacket thrown to him by Congress would help him reach the shores of permanent power.
So, for those at State or in Congress that wish to punish Chavez and help the cause of freedom, that is us, who do the day to day hard work, do not vote on such a foolish measure. Instead do it the hard way: inquire, follow the money, start withdrawing visas from these chavista public officials who love to visit Vegas and Orlando with their family, send the IRS investigate how some expensive real estate changes hands in Florida. Right now there is a perfect example of how things are done: the trial currently going on in Miami as a consequence of the Antonini money bag caught in Buenos Aires airport. True, less glamorous, less headline catching at election time but soooooo much more effective.
Referring to the Mack Ros-Lehtinen initiative, as we say in colloquial Venezuelan "No me ayudes tanto, amigo!" ("do not help me so much, buddy", in total sarcasm, of course)