Friday, February 17, 2017

In praise of the Trump-Tintori meeting

The meeting between Leopoldo Lopez wife, Lilian Tintori and the US president Donald Trump has not found favor among many people, many of them that should have known better. Thus the need for this brief post that I am sure will please no one.

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!


  1. I don't fault Lilian for meeting with Trump, mostly for the reasons Daniel mentions. However, I continue to maintain Trump has a lot in common with Chavez. As for his motives, I suspect he is more interested in currying favor with Latino voters in the US then helping the Venezuelan people. Nevertheless, this was a positive gesture. It is worth noting even if Obama never met with Lilian, he did call for Leopoldo's release back in 2014.

    1. "However, I continue to maintain Trump has a lot in common with Chavez."

      You have the politics backwards. First, currently, in the US, neither Trump or Hillary had that much in common with Chavez. Certainly, Hillary would have picked Supreme court ustices that vote based on what the Democrat party wants. Not what the law says. Hillary is also a left winger - who is to the left.

      Trump is not a typical republican. What makes him not typical republican is that he is a free market person but also wants to promote tax policy that is best for the US businesses and is more open to government provided health care. A typical republican wants free market capitalism unfettered by tax policy that can help US businesses especially those that remain in the US.

      For example, the US has a tax that is put on all US businesses. It is not a VAT type tax. The tax effectively goes on all products that are manufactured in the US including those exported. Due to free trade pacts, the US does not tax very much imports.

      What happens is most other countries have a VAT tax or Value Added Tax. If a company exports the product, the amount of the VAT tax is calculated and removed to be refunded to the company. The idea is that there is no VAT tax in the manufacturing country of an item that is exported. So, Germany which has this type of policy can manufacture a car, export it to the US and in the US we charge only a 2.5% tariff on the car as well as local and state licensing and sales taxes. If we manufacture a car in the US and export to Germany, in the US, we charge the typical taxes that come out to 15% or so of the value of the car, then in Germany, they add a VAT tax to the car which adds about 16% of so to the car price. The effect of US tax policy is that exports get taxed twice - once by the US and once by the importing countries. Yet, under trade agreements, imports to the US get almost no tax. Trump's new tax policy will fix this. Typical republicans thought that it was good for consumers to get low prices items that are imported. Trump thinks he needs to protect US business by fixing this tax.

      Hillary and most democrats are globalists in their thinking as well as leaning towards socialism. Hillary would not have worried about those taxes and would have instead worried about US social issues and tightening control of them in the US.

      Trump is not a globalist, not a socialist and does not care very much about many social issues except he wants to reduce crime and fix the education issues for the inner cities that keep many hispanics and blacks in poverty. This is something that the democrats would not do.

      In any case, the US politics are totally different than Venezuela.

    2. Bob G

      Comment totally irrelevant to this entry. But I will reply anyway.

      All comparisons between Trump and Chavez are based on their narcissistic and authoritarian character profile.

      As such their different policies are a mere tool to a goal.


    3. I think many people in the US that voted for Trump don't think he is any more narcissistic than other presidents. Trump is not any more authoritarian than most other presidents either even though his demeanor and manner seems authoritarian.

      What does this mean for Venezuela and the rest of South America?

      Trump is is someone who is not immersed in typical US policies. Unless someone can convince him a past policy is good, he is open to forming a new policy. Trump's foreign policy goal is to defeat Isis, fix US trade policies and fix the US border and immigration. Other than that, he does not have one.

      Trump is a high energy person who has many meetings with diverse groups and people. He is very approachable. He will have meetings with about anyone who is persistent enough in trying to set up a meeting. He is open to providing political and diplomatic support to causes he agrees with. Thus, if pro-democracy and pro-free market groups approach Trump, they are likely to be able to get a meeting. He is for democracy and for free markets. Thus, it should not be all that hard to sell him on continuing to provide political and diplomatic support. Don't expect any kind of military or other support though. Tell those who want to meet with President Trump to dress appropriately for the photo op after.

  2. It is a photo op.
    Masterminded by Smart Little Marco.
    The Putrid Pumpkin has no idea:
    1. Where VZ is
    2. Who Lilian is
    3. What the US policy towards VZ is

    1. I beg to disagree

      1) he hosted enough miss universe contests

      3) he met many influential and knowledgeable people there to know that Venezuela is geographically important.

      2) ? I kind of agree. But at least it shows how far Lilian has gone

    2. Anonymous2:44 AM

      the thing was worked on in advance as my friend was there. However, I have not heard the juicy details leaving me to believe there are no juicy details but Rubio had dinner with POTUS later on and tweeted there's more to come.

  3. Anonymous6:38 AM

    Daniel - I'm with you on this. And let's not forget that this meeting comes on the heels of sanctioning Tarek.

    True, Trump is a big negative for the US. Maybe even an American Chavez. But nothing else has worked so far to even put a dent in the Venezuelan dictatorship. This is symbolic but could lead to US boycotting Venezuelan oil. That could be the end.

  4. Anonymous7:43 AM

    When Obama was president many people accused him of being a socialist American Chavez. Now Trump is president some people also accuse him of being an American Chavez. I think this is more a reflection of American anxieties than actual reality. Trump believes in private enterprise and property rights. I lived and worked in Venezuela at a time when Chavez was systematically destroying the productive capacity of the country. Violence, distrust and corruption have been actively encouraged by the Chavistas as a method of control. People who live in Europe or America often don't understand the real fear when 'big brother' is real and yes he is out to get you.

    1. Let me clarify that when I speak of a similarity between Trump and Chavez I am speaking of similarities in temperament. Both are authoritarian. Both are narcissistic. Both are angry at people that stand in their way. That one is from the commie left is not the point here.

  5. I'm starting to like Trump. He seems to have put Netanyahu in an odd position (that's very good), is trying to control illegal inmigration, will tone down Obama's global warming mania, already gave the go ahead for Dakota Access pipeline, body slammed Tareck, had some concern for Lilian, wants to reduce tensions with Russia, reduce paperwork, and has had a very nice impact on the market. He's evidently coarse and a little nuts, but I think he nay just be what's needed. And since I have nothing in common with the latinoamerican left which has so kindly helped the Cuban dictatorship for so many years..,.as far as I'm concerned they can sit and soak in their irrelevant moaning.

    1. Global warming mania? Any thinking person who reads those words knows immediately to disregard anything else said by the person who utters them. I guess in your little bubble you don't see the multitude of adverse effects of the climate change which is already hard upon us. Here's how you get a clue about that picture: the former head of ExxonMobil is now the US Secretary of State. To further enrich himself and his oil peddling friends, he wants to get his hands on more Venezuelan oil. With the deteriorated state of PDVSA infrastructure, exports from Venezuela have fallen. The only way to restore the flow of oil (and money into the accounts of the oil barons) is to change the regime in Caracas to one more favorable to corporate investment. In the short term, this may be good for Venezuela, and for the oil barons, but your children and grandchildren will despise you for your utter lack of foresight and your failure to protect the Earth they must inhabit.

    2. "To further enrich himself and his oil peddling friends, he wants to get his hands on more Venezuelan oil."

      You are thinking of South American politics again. US businesses wants to make deals in Venezuela over oil production and extraction should this become possible again. However, those deals will be in competition with every other country. Rex Tillerson won't personally make any money from this as he has divested himself of his oil interests. Nor does he need more money.

      As to global warming and climate change, the largest climate change we had was the cooling into the Little Ice Age which caused droughts and change in climate in South and Meso America such that civilizations there crumbled. This was later followed by the warming from the depths of the Little Ice Age. The world is still not as warm as it was in the Medieval times before the Little Ice Age.

  6. There are numerous misconceptions about Trump, and about the USA.


    Trump may be an egotistical dumb millionaire ass, but in the USA he'll go by the rules of Congress, and the People. Remember? The USA ain't Venezuela.

    Here, you go by the Law, the Constitution, or you get the Boot in no time.

    Plus Trump has DOZENS of advisers, much like any USA president ever had, or more. Plus his wife is rather doable.

    So let me say this: Trump is fun to watch on TV, and USA politics won't change it. That's what most people, including the author of this blog, do not seem to comprehend.

  7. BTW, if Trump blocks Mexico or China, or illegal aliens, well, Obama tried to do that, and did dome of that for almost a DECADE. By the Millions. So what's the big deal? What's the big deal about trying to get manufacturers back into the USA? And more USA jobs? So what's up with all the Trump hate?

    Do you not comprehend that there are hundreds, and thousands of people behind him, millions, for some freaking reasons? The media, and some fools in these blogs have ZERO clue about politics, or the USA. They just dislike Trump for some of his media stuff, not for the SUBSTANCE.

    1. And yet, he lost the popular vote by almost three million votes. Trump is a con man, a carnival barker and pathological liar. It is not unreasonable to seriously question his mental stability. The calamity of his occupation of the White House is clear proof that the Electoral College has failed in its intended purpose.

      From Federalist Paper No. 68: "The process of election (by the Electors) affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States."

      Trump shows himself daily to be an affront to that concept. In our current circumstance, it is abundantly clear that Electoral College system has failed our democratic republic. The Electors chose party over country. It was their constitutional duty to reject a person so manifestly unfit to be President. The time for the Electoral college to be changed has come.

    2. Anonymous2:47 AM

      BUllshit. Rowan Scarborough published in Washington Times today that they are looking at up to 2 million fraudulent hispanic votes. VERY FUCKING TRUE FOLKS.

    3. Anonymous just above

      There is this proposal for you burnt earth trumpians: remove the right to vote for any naturalized Mexican and any one who has any grand parent born in Mexico. Would that please you?


    4. Gisela's husband5:21 PM

      To Anonymous at 9:47. I have a question for you. The article indicates that there may be 2 million folks incorrectly registered to vote. Registered is the key word in the article. Is there any evidence that these people actually voted? I haven't seen any. Yes, the voter roles need to be cleaned up - but that does not equal actual "fraudulent" votes.

  8. Finally, Imagine freaking Hillary as President.. I would cancel my TV service, and move out to any other country.. I'd rather have 10 Obamas, and 20 Trump administrations to one insufferable from Hilary. Again, anyway, US Congress RULES, comprende? This ain't Barquisimeto or Aragua, this is the USA. You go by the book here. The President does not decide much, there's DOZENS of people who advise, plus a fair military, so the USA doesn't mess with any country any more, much less tiny Vzla, unless it's absolutely necessary. Tarek? Pleaaaasse, he'll get to be free, and keep most of his billions, if he ain't too dumb and deals drugs into the USA. He'll have a good life, as 99% of Venezuelan Thieves always have had.

    1. Anonymous2:51 AM

      EXACTLY. One reason why I quit reading Caracas Chronicles. Bunch of hypocrite Trump bashers who don't live here, are not American, and whose exposure to U.S. was going to ultra-liberal colleges like REED College in Oregon. DO you hear me QUICO? And now they are all in a flimsy publishing their badly penned op-eds in the US media as they seek to sway US Public Opinion. WHAT FOR?


    2. Point you guys blindly miss is it should never have come down to a Hillary Trump decision. As crappy as Hillary is it humours me that people believe Trump cares about them in any way. All he cares about is his pocket book and will lie cheat and steal to improve it. Has been his entire life and you people worship him the same as the poor did Chavez in Venezuela. Is too ironic that you guys thought el peblo was too ignorant to understand what they were doing when worshipping Chavez and look at you people and Trump.

  9. Seems Trumps/USA action against the Vice President showed Trumps/Russia's close relationship as Maduro would not speak out against him.

  10. Likely Lillian is wearing some of Trump's wife's clothing line.

  11. Anonymous9:43 PM

    Trump said that NATO is obsolete, and made his support for the other members of NATO conditional on their defence spending. If a Russian rocket comes in the direction where I am sitting, do I need to worry about whether my government spent only 1.9 % of GDP on defence last year? This guy can trigger WW3 But no, he is not stupid.

  12. Hola! Está excelente este blog! Soy el director de y me gustaría que escribieras en nuestra web. ¿te animas?


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