It has been quite a while since we talked about the situation in Venezuela. And even though the country makes the head lines almost every day and everywhere, there has been little development since last January. Seven months ago, the world was following closely the events that lead to Juan Guaidó’s self proclamation as interim president. Now, a fragile quiet seems to prevail in the Caribbean.Last time, we were trying to understand what is going on inside the Venezuelan borders. Although the status of such analysis is far from completed, it is also time to discuss the role of the international community. And that, my friends, includes the United States.
The state of the Region.
During the past four years, South America has experienced the comeback of the right wing. Argentina elected president Mauricio Macri in October 2015. Former Brazilian president Dilma Roussef was impeached in 2016, and interim president Michel Temer paved the way for Jair Bolsonaro. In Ecuador, Lenin Moreno became an unexpected ally of the right in 2017. Chile once again turned its back to proggressism when elected Sebastián Piñera in 2017.
With the dissolution of the Patria Grande – “the big home land”, a coalition of South American left wing governments – Venezuela lost all regional support. The only nation that still has Maduro’s administration’s back is Bolivia.
This infographic shows a turn to the right in the region. Forget Democrat or Republican – in this picture from La Nación, red and blue mean the exact opposite. As you can see, in 2010 the map was almost entirely red (left wing governments). By 2018, only four left wing administrations remained in office: Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and, of course, Venezuela. Just for clarity: although Ecuadorian president Lenín Moreno has established a clearly rightist government program as soon as he came to office, he arrived to power as the leader of the PAIS Alliance (a center-left social democratic and democratic socialist political party.)
To add insult to injury, Venezuela was expelled from MERCOSUR (the Southern Common Market) in 2017. This would another devastating blow to an economy that, clearly, could not make it on its own – and the first one inflicted by the countries of the region. Venezuela has been experiencing economic sanctions from the United States since the first Obama administration, and the consequences have been crippling. Remember, Venezuela produces oil and not much else…so, its economy depends on the imports the country acquires with the money from oil exports. The United States used to be a major bidder for Venezuelan oil, but now the US is using its international leverage to drive away other buyers.
“We are sending a signal to third parties that want to do business with the Maduro regime: proceed with extreme caution. There is no need to risk your business interests with the United States.”
John Bolton, National Security Adviser.
And finally, we have the UNASUR: an intergovernmental regional organization that once comprised twelve South American countries. As of 2019, most have withdrawn. This regional organism had great prospects, and now is virtually dismantled.
Perspectives on political science.
Francis Fukuyama is an American author specialized in political science and economy. Instrumental in the rise of neoconservativism, Fukuyama distanced himself from the movement after 9/11. Although he advocates for America’s rights to promote its values overseas, he is against unnecessary armed interventions. What necessary exactly means…remains to be seen.
Anyway, the following is a quote from his book “State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st century” (2004).
“Whether the United States took a correct approach to Iraq remains an open question, but we should not let the specific circumstances of this case divert attention from the fact that there is a potentially serious mismatch between the demand for security in a world of weak or failed states and the ability of inter- national institutions to supply it.”
I chose to quote Fukuyama because you can accuse him of many things, but supporting socialism is not one of them. Still, in this post Irak invasion work, he takes America’s foreign interventions with a grain of salt.
“While we do not want to return to a world of clashing great powers, we do need to be mindful of the need for power. What only states and states alone are able to do is aggregate and purposefully deploy legitimate power. This power is necessary to enforce a rule of law domestically, and it is necessary to preserve world order internationally. “
Looks like legitimacy comes from within, after all. The only lasting solution to Venezuela’s crisis has to come from Venezuela.
Back to the US.
Whenever I hear the members of the Trump administration addressing the subject of Venezuela, I can help but remembering 2003 and the Iraq invasion. After all, Venezuela has the world’s biggest oil reservoir that we know of. The United States’ rhetoric is still about bringing ‘freedom and democracy’. Rings one too many bells.
It has been a while since the last time president Trump mentioned the sinister words military option, but has he dropped the idea for good? Nobody can say for certain.
Towards a regional solution.
Even though Venezuela is a sovereign state – and has been since 1811 – the international community plays an important part in the devastating political and economic crisis. The advent of the right has destroyed every trace of institutional union between Latin American governments, and the region has become hostile towards Venezuela. Instead of playing the peacemaker, the international community is either adding fuel to the fire or acting according agendas of their own. Venezuela does have allies, but they are either geographically distant or playing an entirely different game. Cuba and Bolivia support the Maduro administration, but they are isolated and comparatively powerless. Iran, China and Russia back him too, but only because they face a common enemy. Venezuela’s political crisis exposes global grudges, just like a strategy board game would.
“It’s gotten to a point where, at times, it seems that the crisis in Venezuela is not about the rivalry between Maduro and Guaidó, but rather about the one between the US and Russia”,
James Dobbins, Diplomacy and Security at the RAND Corporation.
We have previously claimed that a sovereign state should be allowed to handle their crisis according to interests and agendas that are entirely personal. Legitimacy does come from within, but that does not mean a country should be ignored in times of need. A regional coalition must reunite, it is imperative. In lieu of an atmosphere of domestic stability, the region may provide economic relief and political understanding.
Certainly, a message hard to convey in times of Brexit and disintegration.