Author Topic: Venezuela  (Read 236867 times)


Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Tracing the Origins of Venezuela's Crisis
« Reply #551 on: December 13, 2018, 07:24:45 AM »

Tracing the Origins of Venezuela’s Crisis

The country’s current predicament was centuries in the making.

Allison Fedirka |December 6, 2018

Summary

Just over a month from now, on Jan. 10, Nicolas Maduro is scheduled to be sworn in again as president of Venezuela. The occasion won’t be without controversy – some 50 countries failed to recognize the elections in May that set Maduro up for another term in office – raising familiar questions about his government’s staying power. For the past year, Maduro’s administration has appeared to be hanging on by a thread, and Venezuela’s various crises show no sign of abating.

It is, by now, an all too familiar story, that of the country’s seemingly inexorable slide deeper and deeper into chaos. Low oil prices are the scapegoat most commonly assigned to the country’s recent decline. The narrative explains how the economy can now be on the brink of collapse after flourishing for years under high oil prices, but it fails to account for all of Venezuela’s problems. The price of oil does little to explain, for example, the degradation of the country’s institutions, the tenacity of its despotic leadership or the lack of a united opposition despite the public’s resounding rejection of the government. To understand these phenomena, one must first understand the structural design that has been in place since the earliest days of modern Venezuela’s existence. The centralized power, military presence, weak institutions and economic overreliance on commodities that characterize current government are not unique to it. Rather, they are rooted in Venezuela’s colonial past and early years of independence. This Deep Dive examines the interplay between these factors that has dictated the behaviors and actions of governments past and present.

A Strongman’s Game

Venezuela’s precedent for totalitarian rule long predates Maduro or his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. In fact, in its nearly two centuries of existence, Venezuela has functioned as a modern, Western-style democracy for only 40 years, from 1959-1999. (Though Chavez won power in democratic elections in 1998, his presidency brought a decisive end to the period of democracy.) More often, the country has operated under a strong central government led by a single individual empowered through a patronage network, an idea that traces back to the caudillo system in the colonial period.

Caudillos were affluent men who owned or oversaw production on land and rejected Spanish rule. Because they were too few in number to fight on their own, they used their elite social status to enlist the help of the lower classes, whom they organized and led as militias against Spanish troops. The tradition continued even after Venezuela won its war for independence. Without their Spanish overlords or a reliable national government to provide security, local landowners established patronage systems and local fighting forces, which they used to seize control of assets, such as customs houses, and territory. The most successful caudillos became generals in their militias and could project power beyond their region to compete on a national level.

The caudillo system reinforced the need for a strong centralized government in Venezuela and gave rise to the dozen or so revolutions in the country’s history. The constant jostling for ascendancy made the caudillos in power, and those aspiring to it, vulnerable to attack. At the same time, the system’s emphasis on regionalism made it difficult for leaders in one area to secure buy-in elsewhere in the country. Maintaining power required a firm hand. Still, schisms and shifts in allegiance were common, and when an opposition group wanted to challenge the government for power, a revolution broke out. Strongmen rulers rose and fell in this way, for much of the country’s history. (A push for decentralized power among the caudillos led to civil war in the mid-19th century, followed by a brief period of federalism in the 1860s.) Even Venezuela’s first attempts at democracy began with an uprising, known as the October Revolution of 1945. Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution in 1999 built on this tradition – and today Maduro draws on that legacy through his rhetoric and invocations of the now-idolized late president.

Institutional Deficiencies

With this kind of turnover in the government, Venezuela has struggled to build firm and enduring institutions. Many dictators have managed it during their tenures, but usually by exerting strong influence over government institutions, which, as a result, were not accountable to the public. Furthermore, these institutions typically have lasted only as long as the government that put them in place. It became the norm in Venezuela that a revolution or major political transition would usher in a new constitution engineered by the new administration to suit its aims. Since independence, the country has had 27 different constitutions, the most recent of which came about in 1999, under Chavez. What institutions have emerged in Venezuela have rarely had a chance to take root, much less flourish.

Part of the challenge is the patronage system that has underpinned nearly all of Venezuela’s rulers, from the caudillos to Maduro. Throughout Venezuela’s history, leaders have incentivized loyalty among their constituents and officials by offering them various rewards. The practice has made corruption a rampant problem in the country. It has also made organizing political movements around issues difficult, since people are accustomed to looking not for the candidates who best represent their beliefs or concerns but for those who can give them the best deals. In the latter half of the 20th century, those deals centered on agrarian reform, public works in poor urban neighborhoods and military funding. Maduro has adapted to Venezuela’s current economic difficulties by offering followers preferential access to food and U.S. dollars and by allowing pro-government armed groups to operate in the country. The trouble, of course, is that if government revenue drops off and the country’s leaders don’t have enough money to subsidize their supporters, their fortunes can quickly turn.

Hooked on Commodities

And in Venezuela, government income depends largely on commodities prices – its economy has centered on commodities exports from the very start. Colonies like Venezuela served two purposes for the Spanish crown: to provide raw materials to feed nascent industry back home and to buy up Spain’s finished goods. To ensure that its needs were served, Spain restricted colonial trade, first limiting the colonies to trade with only Spain and then permitting them to trade with one another as well. So it was that coffee, cacao, sugar, tobacco and leather became the mainstays of Venezuela’s economy.

The pattern continued even after Venezuela won its independence, only with new trade partners. The United Kingdom and other European powers, eager to hasten the Spanish Empire’s decline, had funded Venezuela’s efforts against Spain, offered it flexible financing to promote economic recovery in the conflict’s aftermath, and opened trade with Venezuela. But the basis of their trade was the same exchange of raw materials for finished goods that Venezuela had had with Spain. In addition, the foreign financial assistance put Venezuela into debt, which continued to grow because of servicing costs and rollovers, along with the country’s attempts to modernize its agricultural sector. When commodity prices dropped – particularly for coffee as Brazil increased production – they set off Venezuela’s first major debt crisis in 1903. The discovery of oil reserves in the country a decade or so later alleviated its debt problem and gave Caracas a robust new source of revenue. In other words, the government found a new commodity to hitch the economy to.

Commodity price fluctuations have plagued Venezuela ever since, causing recurring debt crises. When oil prices are low, the government borrows to cover its costs; then in more prosperous times, it devotes much of its revenue to paying down its debts and fortifying its pillars of support. (During an oil boom in the 1970s, for example, Caracas focused its public spending on educational programs related to the oil industry.) This leaves the government with little money to invest in developing other areas of the economy, thereby perpetuating the cycle.

The combination of low commodity prices and mounting debt has been the downfall of numerous administrations over the years. Commodity dependence makes any government vulnerable to market forces beyond its control. But that goes double for the Venezuelan government, since it derives much of its legitimacy from the patronage system. A crash in coffee prices in the 1830s and 1840s brought down the administration of President Jose Antonio Paez, a hero of Venezuela’s war for independence. A similar fate befell President Rafael Caldera in the 1990s, when lower oil prices and higher debt levels sapped the popular support that had won him a second term in office, paving the way for Chavez’s rise to power. And today, Maduro – who assumed the presidency in 2013, just a year before global oil prices tanked – finds himself in the same position. Languishing oil prices, coupled with high debt, will eventually be his undoing.

(click to enlarge)

Defending the Government

In the meantime, Maduro is drawing on his ties with the military to maintain his grip on power – a time-honored tradition among Venezuela’s leaders. The bond between the country’s government and military, like its commodity dependency, also goes back to colonial times. Having conquered local forces and rival powers for control of Venezuela, Spain crafted a military-centric administrative structure for the territory to defend it and its resources against the many foreign competitors in the surrounding area. High-ranking generals took control of the territory in 1777, when Venezuela gained autonomy as a captaincy, and, after independence, the military continued to play a prominent role in the country. Most caudillos had at one time been commanding officers in the armed forces. Since then, plenty of leaders have turned to the military to help keep or restore order. Gen. Juan Vicente Gomez Chacon, for instance, depended on security forces to suppress the roughly 20 armed domestic rebellions he faced while in power. President Romulo Betancourt, likewise, had to rely on the military to repel attacks from leftist guerrilla groups even during Venezuela’s democratic phase. And Chavez came to power after a career in the military.

Though Maduro never served in the military, he has aligned himself with it and stayed close to it. He selected Vladimir Padrino Lopez, an officer loyal to Chavez, as his defense minister on taking office and has made sure to share the spoils of power with the security forces to ensure its support for his government. Over the course of his administration, Maduro has extended the military’s reach by giving it prominent roles in areas such as the energy sector and food distribution programs. He also has turned a blind eye to its illicit activities, including drug trafficking. In return, Maduro has used the military’s intelligence branch to imprison opposition leaders and suspected dissidents among the security forces. If the president’s favor hasn’t been enough to eliminate dissent in the armed forces, it has at least kept the military largely invested in the Maduro administration’s survival.

What Comes Next

Even so, the end of Maduro’s tenure is inevitable. Geopolitics tells us that, based on the forces and realities the president is up against, his days are numbered – at this point, even a sudden spike in oil prices wouldn’t necessarily save him. When and how his government meets its end is harder to say, but history may serve as a guide. Venezuela’s past is replete with examples of fallen governments and the many causes of their demise.

(click to enlarge)

Civilian-military coups have spurred government transitions on multiple occasions. Indeed, in 2017, brewing dissent in the security forces prompted the government to crack down on military personnel who broke rank. But Venezuela’s opposition is too divided to overthrow the government, despite its efforts to unify, thanks to infighting and institutional defeats. Each party in the opposition, like any other coalition, has its own views on the government’s ideal end state and is reluctant to subjugate them to those of another group. The daylight between conservative and liberal factions in the opposition has led to power vacuums and political chaos in the wake of even successful coups, such as the ouster of the Monagas brothers in 1858. The opposition in contemporary Venezuela, moreover, has struggled to wrest power from Maduro under better circumstances – like when it won a majority in the National Assembly in late 2015. (Parliament, after all, is only one of five branches of Venezuela’s government, and the rest are still firmly under the president’s control.) Having run itself ragged with public protests and fruitless dialogue with Maduro and his supporters, the opposition took a break over the past year to regroup. It’s expected to resume its protests in January, and if it pulls together, it may yet be able to push for a democratic transition.

Otherwise, any number of contingencies could bring Maduro down. Someone could seize power while he’s out of the country, for example, though the president’s several recent trips abroad suggest he’s not sweating that possibility. Direct foreign intervention also seems unlikely. And while Colombia and the United States will continue to increase pressure on the Venezuelan government through sanctions, doing so probably won’t be enough to cause its collapse, unless they take direct aim at state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela. Instead, the eventual power transition in Caracas is liable to be a domestically driven affair. There is even the possibility that the current administration eventually comes around to orchestrate its exit and set the stage for a new government, as longtime Spanish dictator Francisco Franco did before his death and as the Brazilian military junta did before ceding power in 1986.

When a new government does take over in Venezuela, it will have its work cut out. The next administration will need to rebuild from the ground up, a task that may prove an opportunity to break the patterns that have shaped Venezuela’s government for most of its history. That it spent four decades as a democracy – the result of various political factions uniting to overthrow an authoritarian government and to rule instead by coalition – suggests Venezuela is not predestined for dictatorship. Breaking old habits and establishing new ones isn’t easy, but neither is it impossible, as countries such as South Korea, which managed to industrialize its economy decades after major Western countries had done so, can attest.

Institutions wax and wane over time. Even those that seemed infallible at one point in history, like the English monarchy or the Argentine military, invariably give way to others. These processes take time and effort, of course, and just as many countries fail at them as succeed. Nevertheless, these are the big pictures issues that will help determine Venezuela’s future.

Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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Re: 1,000,000+% inflation
« Reply #553 on: December 17, 2018, 11:20:07 AM »



DougMacG

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Re: Foreign Policy: How Venezuela Struck it Poor
« Reply #556 on: January 07, 2019, 06:01:38 AM »
https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/16/how-venezuela-struck-it-poor-oil-energy-chavez/?fbclid=IwAR0RlYvIvWA-4aZc2sOZrphLhe_tPxi0NXLpIF7asdfhkjwqDVKADl2gMiY

Great article.  Bears repeating.   :wink:
https://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1307.msg111794#msg111794

Socialists there and here still don't know, even the oil business requires capital.

"Venezuela was considered rich in the early 1960s: It produced more than 10 percent of the world’s crude and had a per capita GDP many times bigger than that of its neighbors Brazil and Colombia — and not far behind that of the United States. "
...
"he started siphoning off billions of dollars in PDVSA revenue to pay for his social programs, including housing, education, clinics, and school lunches. While this strategy may have paid off politically in the short term, it was extremely dangerous: for the more cash the government took out of PDVSA, the less money the oil company had to invest in maintaining production or finding new resources."
...
 “During the highest oil boom in history, when every other country in the world increased investment, Venezuela [without reinvestment of profits] did not, and production kept declining,”

DougMacG

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #557 on: January 24, 2019, 06:57:46 PM »
Socialism in Venezuela under Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro ended as socialism always ends: Chavez family members and cronies became billionaires (in some cases, multi-billionaires) while most other Venezuelans starved.
https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2019/01/u-s-russia-back-competing-venezuelans.php

Russia still backs the tyrant: 

Mr Putin “expressed support to the legitimate government of Venezuela amid the acute political crisis that has been provoked from the outside”, the Kremlin said.

The “outside” means the U.S. government.

G M

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Re: Foreign Policy: How Venezuela Struck it Poor
« Reply #558 on: January 25, 2019, 01:36:37 AM »
What amazed me about the article is the word "socialist" actually appeared 4 times.


https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/16/how-venezuela-struck-it-poor-oil-energy-chavez/?fbclid=IwAR0RlYvIvWA-4aZc2sOZrphLhe_tPxi0NXLpIF7asdfhkjwqDVKADl2gMiY

Great article.  Bears repeating.   :wink:
https://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1307.msg111794#msg111794

Socialists there and here still don't know, even the oil business requires capital.

"Venezuela was considered rich in the early 1960s: It produced more than 10 percent of the world’s crude and had a per capita GDP many times bigger than that of its neighbors Brazil and Colombia — and not far behind that of the United States. "
...
"he started siphoning off billions of dollars in PDVSA revenue to pay for his social programs, including housing, education, clinics, and school lunches. While this strategy may have paid off politically in the short term, it was extremely dangerous: for the more cash the government took out of PDVSA, the less money the oil company had to invest in maintaining production or finding new resources."
...
 “During the highest oil boom in history, when every other country in the world increased investment, Venezuela [without reinvestment of profits] did not, and production kept declining,”


Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Military intervention would not be easy
« Reply #559 on: January 25, 2019, 04:08:12 PM »


Trouble Awaits Any Military Intervention in Venezuela
Military troops during a ceremony at the Fuerte Tiuna Military Complex in Caracas on Jan. 10.
(FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Highlights

    Many lower-level Venezuelan military personnel could desert their positions if ordered to crack down on opposition demonstrators.
    At the same time, the country's armed forces could quickly muster a hasty defense to resist any outside intervention intent on overthrowing the government.
    Any intervening force would face numerous challenges, including difficult terrain, logistical issues, guerrilla attacks and the prospect of fighting beleaguered but well-equipped Venezuelan forces.

With the United States and much of Latin America recognizing Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president — declaring President Nicolas Maduro's government as "illegitimate" in the process — it appears that the country is heading toward a chaotic, violent transition of power. As the stakes rise, so does the possibility that Venezuela could witness an external military intervention (an option that Washington has so far refused to take off the table in its desire to see the back of Maduro), particularly if Caracas responds with mass violence against opposition protesters. But despite the weakened state of Venezuela's armed forces, any military intervention in the country is unlikely to be a simple and seamless affair.
The Big Picture

Venezuela's crisis appears to be approaching a head, especially after numerous regional states recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of the country. As countries such as the United States, Brazil and Colombia consider how they could force President Nicolas Maduro from power, the prospect of an external armed intervention in Venezuela remains on the table. Several factors, however, suggest that any outside force would experience great difficulty in intervening militarily in the country.
See Venezuela's Unraveling
A Military That Mirrors the Country

There is no denying that the Venezuelan military finds itself in a significantly weakened state following years of domestic economic trials and tribulations. The Maduro government may retain the loyalty of Venezuela's top military officers, but it cannot depend on support across all ranks. The men and women of the armed forces, after all, reflect wider Venezuelan society, which is deeply divided. If the government orders the military to conduct a violent and large-scale crackdown on anti-government protesters, many soldiers would likely desert, or even defect, in droves. In fact, concerns over the loyalty of the rank and file are likely discouraging Caracas from ordering troops to repress demonstrators, forcing the government to instead rely on more ideologically loyal paramilitary formations such as the National Guard.

The military also suffers from a spate of other problems, many of which existed well before Venezuela entered its crisis. Training, for instance, has never been a particular strength of the armed forces, but it is now a glaring problem because of the current dearth of food and fuel, which has largely kept military units idle in their barracks. Corruption, nepotism and cronyism have also eaten away at the overall efficiency of the armed forces. Increased factionalism exacerbates these shortcomings, which have begun to hinder command and control and cooperation among service branches. All things considered, the Venezuelan military might appear to be one of Latin America's strongest, but its deep-seated problems mean that it is in little position to defend the country effectively from a serious external attack; instead, it is far more likely to splinter under serious pressure.
The Challenge That Awaits

Nevertheless, there are several reasons why an external military intervention in Venezuela would be no cakewalk. For one thing, even if sizable portions of the armed forces might balk at turning their weapons on fellow citizens, an invasion could galvanize them to circle their wagons against an external aggressor. And in contrast to Libya's military on the eve of the 2011 intervention that ultimately toppled Moammar Gadhafi, Venezuela's armed forces are much better equipped and enjoy much more advantageous terrain. What's more, Venezuela could receive increased external support from allies such as Russia, which could further complicate plans for an intervention.

Any external military action against Venezuela would, in all likelihood, involve a significant air campaign whose first and foremost goal would be to gain air supremacy over the skies. The only country equipped to conduct such a campaign is the United States. Colombia and Brazil — two regional heavyweights that are staunchly opposed to the Maduro government — lack the aircraft necessary to neutralize the Venezuelan Air Force and its air defenses independently. And even if Venezuelan pilots lack the skills of their Brazilian and Colombian counterparts, they boast an advantage thanks to their superior combat aircraft, especially the Russian-made Su-30MK2. Brazil, for example, will only begin to address this technological imbalance this year, when the country acquires its first batch of Swedish JAS 39E Gripen fighters.

A military intervention could quickly snowball into one of the largest worldwide military operations since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

A U.S. air campaign would undoubtedly decimate the Venezuelan air force, but it would require a considerable effort to also suppress and destroy the country's surface-to-air missile batteries on the ground. This would be a complicated endeavor, particularly as Venezuelan air defense units, unlike Gadhafi's forces, would benefit from the mobility of their systems and the abundance of dense urban and jungle terrain. Furthermore, the Venezuelan army as a whole is very large — even before adding in various paramilitary formations — and relatively well-equipped with light and heavy weapons. With such forces also able to benefit from the same dense urban and jungle terrain, it would require an extended air campaign to grind them down if they were to continue active resistance.
Logistical Nightmares

Unless an intervention triggered a mass uprising that quickly toppled the government, any effort to accelerate the campaign with a ground invasion would face its share of problems as well. Given Venezuela's sheer size and population, an intervening country or countries would require a sizable military force. Such an army would then need to confront the problem of choosing a route into Venezuela. A direct intervention by sea is inherently risky because amphibious operations are one of the most complicated and dangerous military maneuvers. Overland invasion routes from Colombia or Brazil also face difficult terrain, complicated logistics and extended supply lines that would be vulnerable to guerrilla attack. In effect, a military intervention could quickly snowball into one of the largest worldwide military operations since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

All of these constraints highlight how a military intervention in Venezuela is not comparable to previous interventions in the region, such as Grenada (1983), Haiti (1994-1995) or Panama (1989-1990). Nor is it particularly similar to the 2011 intervention in Libya. Venezuela's size, population, terrain, and weaponry ensure that a long military campaign would be almost inevitable if the initial action doesn't quickly topple Maduro's government or trigger a collapse in the armed forces. And even if an attacking force were successful, the leaders of a military intervention would be faced with a very messy aftermath in which they would have to suddenly shift from offensive operations to propping up the new government and support its efforts to rebuild a broken economy and food distribution system — to say nothing about the prospect of dealing with possible attacks from disenfranchised Chavista forces in a protracted insurgency. And then there are other pressing issues, such as forced migration, the effect of conflict on the energy market or the potential proliferation of weapons and violence. Simply put, overthrowing Maduro through external intervention is unlikely to provide a shortcut to resolving Venezuela's myriad problems.

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor updates
« Reply #560 on: January 26, 2019, 02:47:13 PM »
By GPF Staff


Daily Memo: The Struggle in Venezuela, Confusion From Iran, Kurdish Protest in Northern Iraq


All the news worth knowing today.


Here are some updates on the situation in Venezuela from the week:
•   Two people are claiming to be Venezuela’s president, and neither seems ready to back down. Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who recently proclaimed himself acting president, says that President Nicolas Maduro must that amnesty may be an option if he cooperates. Maduro, meanwhile, has remained defiant, even saying in a live broadcast that he was willing to talk directly with U.S. President Donald Trump and to travel to the U.N. Security Council meeting in New York to argue his case. He also told military commanders to prepare to defend the country and announced nationwide military exercises to take place Feb.10-25.
•   The Wall Street Journal reported late yesterday morning that, according to a senior official in the Trump administration, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence spoke with Guaido on Tuesday evening, the night before Guaido declared himself acting president. Pence reportedly called to assure him of the United States’ support if he seized control of the government. If the account is true – and considering what has happened, it seems probable – the U.S. played an active role in orchestrating the current opposition to Maduro.
•   Russia continues to support Maduro and to criticize the United States’ posture toward Venezuela. The Russian foreign minister described U.S. policy as “destructive,” and a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry accused Washington of repeating its interventionist policies. In addition, Russia’s ambassador to Mexico told a Mexican newspaper that Russia “appreciated very much” Mexico’s noninterference in Venezuelan political affairs and its continued recognition of Maduro’s administration, a position that puts Mexico City at odds with Washington. Finally, Reuters reports that private Russian military contractors have arrived in Venezuela to protect Maduro’s personal safety. The Russian and Venezuelan governments deny having any information about the story, and the contracting company in question, the Wagner Group, has not made a statement about it.
•   The Trump administration has named Elliott Abrams as special envoy to oversee U.S. policy toward Venezuela. Abrams is best known for pleading guilty in 1991 to two misdemeanor charges for withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra affair. (President George H.W. Bush pardoned him in 1992.) Back in 2002, the Guardian reported that Abrams had approved a Venezuelan coup attempt against Hugo Chavez under President George W. Bush. This isn’t the place to adjudicate Abrams’ past, nor is the man himself consequential. But his appointment, and U.S. statements on and policy toward Venezuela, suggests Washington increasingly using moral and ideological justifications in its foreign policy.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #561 on: January 27, 2019, 07:30:43 PM »
Venezuela's Friends and Foes Square Off Over Maduro
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, left, meet at the Revolution Palace in Havana on April 21, 2018.
(ERNESTO MASTRASCUSA/AFP/Getty Images)


    Russia, China and Cuba will attempt to keep Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in office while the United States and its allies in Venezuela's political opposition ratchet up pressure to hasten his departure.
    Havana and Moscow will become directly involved in trying to safeguard or prolong Maduro's rule.
    Brazil and Colombia will work to force Maduro from power, but their ability to pressure Caracas will be limited compared to that of the United States.
    Events on the ground, as well as Maduro's ability to keep Venezuela's armed forces on his side, will determine whether the leader stays in place or soon leaves power.
    A formal negotiation period could delay Maduro's removal, so the opposition will try to win over as many military commanders and soldiers as possible in the short term.

The widespread international recognition of Juan Guaido as the legitimate interim successor to Nicolas Maduro as president of Venezuela has raised the stakes for Venezuelans — as well as nations with an interest in the troubled South American country. Those nations, chief among them the United States, Russia, China, Cuba, Brazil and Colombia, are sharply split between those that favor Maduro's rapid departure and those that — for largely financial and economic reasons — would prefer him to remain in place. Whatever their respective reasons, both camps will endeavor to mold events in Venezuela in their favor. For its part, the United States will rely on a combination of sanctions pressure and opposition demonstrations to turn key members of the armed forces against Maduro. But countries that have close ties with the current government will do everything in their power to delay — if not outright avert — Maduro's departure from power.

The Big Picture

The political crisis in Venezuela is domestic in origin but global in importance. Though Venezuela's geopolitical significance has declined in recent decades, it remains key to countries with specific interests in it — for financial, energy or security reasons. Some of these countries, such as Cuba, Russia and China, would prefer that President Nicolas Maduro remain in power. A new government would affect Moscow, Havana and Beijing, as a change could upset oil shipments and loan repayments. Russia and Cuba will seek to prolong Maduro's tenure for as long as possible to protect their interests.

Fighting to Delay Maduro's Exit

The nation with the strongest short-term motivation for keeping Maduro in power is Cuba, which wants to maintain the status quo in Caracas to safeguard its own future political stability. After all, Cuba's gradual transition away from highly personalistic communist rule is going to be difficult enough without losing access to free Venezuelan fuel and crude oil shipments. Cuba currently receives about 50,000 barrels per day of fuel and crude oil from Venezuela — a figure that accounts for about a third of the island's consumption. The threat of losing these shipments is a serious one, as any new government in Caracas trying to maximize its oil export revenue and attract more foreign direct investment would likely reduce or entirely cease oil shipments to Cuba.

The Cuban government has significant military and intelligence assets at its disposal to keep Maduro in power. For nearly two decades, the Cuban government has assisted the Venezuelan state in military training and intelligence sharing on foreign and domestic targets. Venezuela's internal security services work closely with Cuba to closely monitor domestic political opponents. Though Havana may have already determined that Maduro's exit from power is just a matter of time, the island will make it its mission to delay that departure. To accomplish this, it might choose to deploy additional security forces to bolster the Venezuelan government's military and intelligence gathering capabilities. Nevertheless, Cuba is a comparatively small actor in Venezuela, meaning it will be powerless to turn the tide if key officials who head Venezuela's geographical military districts turn their guns on Maduro.

Russia also has no desire to see Maduro go quickly, though for far less immediate reasons. Like the oil gifted to Cuba, Venezuela's opposition does not view Caracas' loan agreements with Russia and China as legitimate, suggesting that a new government would significantly reduce or end oil-for-loan programs as part of reforms in the energy sector. As it is, Venezuela's current government has fallen far behind on payments to Russian lenders like Rosneft and others, with the former's CEO even rebuking Maduro privately two months ago because Caracas had failed to repay less than half of the total 380,000 barrels per day of crude oil that it owes to Russia. China, by contrast, was receiving about 460,000 barrels per day, or 60 percent of what Caracas owes to Beijing.

Maduro's fall would rob Moscow of an ally it can use to increase strategic pressure on the United States.

Aside from the possibility of a new Venezuelan government defaulting on Russian loans, Moscow has a strategic interest in the country. Venezuela fits neatly into Russia's global strategy of using even geopolitically minor conflicts to maintain strategic pressure on the United States. For nearly a decade, Russia flirted with the idea of establishing a more permanent strategic bomber presence in Venezuela. Maduro's fall would rob Moscow of an ally it can use to increase strategic pressure on the United States, meaning steps to keep the president in power will become a growing priority for Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to a report on Jan. 25, more Russian private military contractors have made their way to Caracas, possibly to increase personal security for Maduro. By using its forces to directly bolster the government, Moscow would complicate the Venezuelan military's attempts to overthrow Maduro and could even use the troops as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the United States on other strategic issues.

But of all the foreign powers with an interest in Venezuela, China likely faces the most financial exposure to the collapse of the Maduro government. Venezuela still owes China around $23 billion in loans that it is paying back with crude oil exports. At present, more than half of Venezuela's daily crude oil production goes directly toward repaying Chinese and Russian loans — making it likely that a new government would default on these agreements in its search for ways to bolster government revenue through oil exports. The rise of a pro-U.S. government in Venezuela would naturally cloud the prospects of Chinese military sales to Venezuela. Much of Caracas' military equipment comes from China, but a Venezuelan alliance with the United States would slowly shift the government's military procurement focus toward Washington. Still, the Chinese government is far less likely to directly intervene in Venezuela than Cuba or Russia, as such a step would hurt its trade relations with the United States at a delicate time and fly in the face of Beijing's overarching diplomatic focus on non-interference.

Fighting to Hasten Maduro's Exit

Arrayed against Cuba, Russia and China are Brazil and Colombia, two of Venezuela's neighbors that will adopt an ever-increasing role to tilt the country's balance of power away from Maduro. Brasilia and Bogota's interests in handing Venezuela to opposition rule are clear: Maduro's rule precipitated a food crisis that has forced millions of Venezuelans to seek relief in Colombia and Brazil. Caracas' support for illicit activities, such as militancy, drug trafficking and illegal mining, have also strengthened criminal groups in both countries. Thus, as Washington raises pressure on Caracas, Bogota and Brasilia are likely to do the same. The two neighbors, however, have less leverage over Caracas because they consume virtually no oil or refined products from Venezuela, while they possess almost no international clout that would allow them to impose punishing sanctions without assistance from the United States. Accordingly, they will likely follow the United States' lead in the coming weeks and months as they seek to achieve their aims.

In the near future, Venezuela's political situation will evolve largely in accordance with events on the ground. The United States and its opposition allies will try to raise pressure on military forces to switch sides against the government — if Washington doesn't engage in direct military intervention.

As the opposition tries to persuade military units and commanders to turn on the president, offers of amnesty will be crucial. As head of the National Assembly, Guaido can press his claim to the presidency by negotiating and offering to approve amnesty legislation toward blanket pardons or some sort of amnesty mechanism. The existence of such proposals — backed by guarantees that the United States will not enforce extradition requests against certain military commanders and political elites — will make it more likely that Venezuelan elites could consider a transition of power. Such an approach may bring enough commanders to the opposition's side to swiftly oust Maduro, but the incumbent still wields enough political and military influence to resist. He is likely to use any negotiations to buy time to stake his claim to the presidency (indeed, his foreign allies are likely to advise it). Such delays may keep him in power longer, but they could also intensify the violence of the protests and persuade dissidents in the armed forces to mount their own challenges.

Given Venezuela's tailspin, the likelihood of Maduro making an orderly departure is low. His exit, instead, is more likely to be violent and chaotic, as he has no desire to abandon power and his key domestic and foreign allies wish to delay the inevitable for as long as possible. Even if the opposition and government agree to formal offers to negotiate, the former will want to sit down for such talks with as strong a hand as possible. It's also a case of once bitten, twice shy: Maduro has previously roped his opponents into fruitless negotiations, so his opponents will be wary of any entering any new negotiations. For such talks to succeed, or even advance beyond the initial stages, they would require strong backing from key military officials or from the defense minister himself. Without their support, the situation in Venezuela will slide toward open insurrection, raising the prospect of more violence as Maduro's opponents square off against security forces intent on maintaining his rule.

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #562 on: January 28, 2019, 06:08:05 AM »
Former Supreme Allied Commander, retired Admiral James Stavridis said this morning he sees two out of three chance Maduro goes and that this could unfold quickly. 
http://www.hughhewitt.com/admiral-james-stavridis-usn-ret-former-allied-supreme-commander-of-nato-and-commander-of-u-s-southern-command-on-venezuelanspring/
Stavridis was also former combatant commander for Southern Command, that part of the American military that includes the Caribbean, Latin and Central and South America, including Venezuela.

"...Russia and China and their play in this. They are going to what they can to support Maduro, but I think they are coming to realize they don’t have a strong hand of cards."

#VenezuelanSpring

Safe haven for Maduro in Cuba.  Amnesty for Generals who switch sides.

I wonder what Denny S is seeing.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2019, 07:09:46 AM by DougMacG »



Crafty_Dog

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #565 on: January 28, 2019, 05:38:00 PM »
Could just as easily be the Russkis trying to look important.

ccp

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Bolton's "leak" planned
« Reply #566 on: January 30, 2019, 06:35:07 AM »
https://www.yahoo.com/huffpost/john-bolton-apos-notes-indicate-004437589.html

John had to know this would get out.
I strongly suspect he knew someone would see this and it was a planned message thru the Left MSM

I mean come on did he really have to write this down to refresh his memory  ?

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Re: Bolton's "leak" planned
« Reply #567 on: January 30, 2019, 07:03:48 AM »
https://www.yahoo.com/huffpost/john-bolton-apos-notes-indicate-004437589.html

John had to know this would get out.
I strongly suspect he knew someone would see this and it was a planned message thru the Left MSM

I mean come on did he really have to write this down to refresh his memory  ?

Yes, he had to be sending a message to Maduro.

Maduro:  "I’m ready to talk to U.S. President Donald Trump. I would like it to be a face-to-face meeting between Donald Trump and Nicolas Maduro," he said in a state TV channel broadcast on Tuesday, Russian news agency Tass reported.  [Unreliable source.]  https://www.newsweek.com/maduro-wants-face-face-meeting-trump-1139446

Maduro should focus on his escape and personal survival.  He ran out of ideas to get his country out of this crisis and he wasn't legitimately reelected.  Power needs to shift to the new interim President.  New, fair elections need to be held.  With Maduro out and real reforms coming, humanitarian aid could come in quickly.



Crafty_Dog

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #570 on: February 01, 2019, 07:28:53 AM »
Venezuela Opposition Leader Outlines Plan to Revive Nation
Juan Guaidó, recognized by Washington as the rightful leader, said he would sell state assets and invite private investment in the energy industry
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó spoke at a university in Caracas on Thursday about how he hoped to revive the country’s battered economy.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó spoke at a university in Caracas on Thursday about how he hoped to revive the country’s battered economy. Photo: Marco Bello/Getty Images
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By Ryan Dube and
Kejal Vyas
Jan. 31, 2019 6:22 p.m. ET

CARACAS—Juan Guaidó, the 35-year-old opposition leader recognized by Washington as Venezuela’s rightful leader, laid out a plan Thursday to reverse President Nicolás Maduro’s economic polices and address Latin America’s worst humanitarian crisis in decades.

Speaking in an auditorium packed with supporters at a Venezuelan university, Mr. Guaidó said a new government could quickly stabilize an economy that was once one the region’s richest but that now suffers from widespread food and medical shortages and the world’s highest inflation.

“We have to create confidence in the country,” Mr. Guaidó said to a raucous crowd with supporters yelling “God bless you” to the tall and slim politician. “This isn’t a problem of left or right, but a humanitarian problem.”

Mr. Guaidó got a fresh boost on Thursday when the European Parliament recognized him as interim president. The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the EU was ready to raise pressure on Mr. Maduro by recognizing Mr. Guaidó as president unless the government called new presidential elections.

Mr. Guaidó said his plan called for seeking financial aide from multilateral organizations, tapping bilateral loans, restructuring debt and opening up Venezuela’s vast oil sector to private investment. It includes privatizing assets held by state enterprises derided by the opposition as corrupt and incompetent and eliminating currency controls. Mr. Guaido said he would guarantee access to basic public services for Venezuelans who have long endured a lack of running water and power outages. He also said he’d end wasteful state subsidies and take steps to revive the private sector.

“Here, no one wants to be given anything,” he said to cheers. “We are going to clean up this economic crisis and create jobs.”
A demonstrator held a picture of late president Hugo Chávez on Thursday as workers from Venezuela's state oil company participated in an ‘anti-imperialist’ march in Caracas that was promoted by the government to support Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
A demonstrator held a picture of late president Hugo Chávez on Thursday as workers from Venezuela's state oil company participated in an ‘anti-imperialist’ march in Caracas that was promoted by the government to support Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Photo: yuri cortez/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Venezuela’s once demoralized opposition has been revitalized in recent weeks as Mr. Maduro faces the greatest test yet to his grip on power. Another large protest is planned for Saturday. Mr. Guaidó’s parallel government has been recognized by the U.S., Canada and much of Latin America.

The U.S. this week tightened the screws on Mr. Maduro in a bid to force him from power by freezing Venezuela’s oil assets in the U.S. and sanctioning state oil company PdVSA, the country’s top exporter and source of nearly all its hard currency income. Washington pledged to give Mr. Guaido’s group some of that cash.

“I wish Nicolas Maduro and his top advisors a long, quiet retirement, living on a nice beach somewhere far from Venezuela,” White House national security adviser John Bolton wrote on Twitter Thursday.

Ms. Mogherini also said Thursday that EU foreign ministers had backed the creation of an International Contact Group to join a mix of European and Latin American countries—including Spain, Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Ecuador, Uruguay, Bolivia and Costa Rica—to guide Venezuela towards elections and help avoid a violent outcome.

Mr. Maduro, the handpicked successor of the late Socialist President Hugo Chávez, blames the U.S. and domestic opposition for orchestrating a coup to get their hands on the country’s oil.

Speaking to PdVSA workers wearing red hard hats on Thursday, Vice President Delcy Rodríguez issued a patriotic call for oil employees to ramp up production. But it’s unclear how that could happen. Output has fallen to 1.1 million barrels a day, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, compared with 3.5 million in 1998 when Mr. Chávez was elected.

“We are the revolutionary PdVSA,” she said. “We are the anti-imperialist PdVSA. They don’t want to understand that.”

Highlighting the uncertainty here, Mr. Guaidó ended his speech at the university after alleging that four members of the Special Action Forces, a division of the National Police, had showed up at his apartment asking for his wife. He then invited supporters in the crowd to follow him to his apartment, where he briefly spoke to journalists outside his building. The National Police chief denied the allegation.

The Trump administration has issued thinly veiled threats against Mr. Maduro not to arrest Mr. Guaidó.

In recent weeks, Mr. Guaidó has tried to win over military and police officers still loyal to Mr. Maduro by promising them amnesty if they support his transitional government.

But Mr. Guaidó told The Wall Street Journal in a brief interview earlier this week that members of certain security units that are accused of committing human rights abuses as well as extrajudicial killings wouldn’t be able to receive those same benefits. He singled out the Special Action Forces, whose black-clad officers are often seen on Caracas’s streets with ski masks and shotguns.

The government says it uses the forces to root out kidnappers and other criminal groups that run amok in the crime-ridden country. The Venezuelan rights group Provea blames the Special Action Forces for more than 200 killings in 2018.

“This is the government’s death squad,” said Marco Ponce, a rights activist.


ccp

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #572 on: February 08, 2019, 06:50:18 PM »
Crafty ,

The color of their faces 

could not have been lost on you.

"https://tribunist.com/news/venezuelan-army-releases-video-of-intense-training-to-scare-off-u-s-military-forces-it-fails-video/?fbclid=IwAR1iiFzPFSxEUbRdqTAC-iCdOBg5jjfsuuE9mPJjpo0bSkukGp2X9ybpL8A"

The black faces of the Venezuelan military would result in death by shame in the US .  When here
here the Left goes crazy over 35 yr old photos and even a black turtleneck sweater that has Don Lemon clarifying for us "make no mistake about this is black face ":

https://www.npr.org/2019/02/07/692314950/gucci-apologizes-and-removes-sweater-following-blackface-backlash

just show these pics to the US libs and the Venezuelan army will all be destroyed within seconds by shame within  on twitter NYT WP CNN and viral pics and videos and verbal   nuclear blasts.

Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: O'Grady: Power & Money in Venezuela
« Reply #573 on: February 12, 2019, 09:14:08 AM »

Power and Money in Venezuela
Some opponents of Nicolás Maduro remain supporters of socialism.
46 Comments
By Mary Anastasia O’Grady
Feb. 10, 2019 3:02 p.m. ET

Nicolás Maduro’s decision to block humanitarian aid to the starving Venezuelan people is no surprise. It’s already well-established that the dictator and his Cubans backers are tyrants.

What really matters politically is the effect of new U.S. Treasury rules mandating that payments for Venezuelan oil go to an escrow account for the government of interim President Juan Guaidó. As the Journal’s Kejal Vyas and Bradley Olsonreported Feb. 4, the restrictions “are making it difficult for the Maduro regime to secure payment for the oil.”

A severe cash-flow disruption increases the odds that Mr. Maduro will have to move out of the presidential palace. Even so, democracy advocates had best not get ahead of themselves. Many risks would remain even if Mr. Maduro retires.

From the earliest days of Hugo Chávez’s rule, oil money has been the key to power in Venezuela. Chávez tightened his grip at first not by executing opponents but by buying them off. This is why friends of the region’s hard left are wringing their hands and crying that the Treasury rules will hurt the Venezuelan people.

The Venezuelan people are already destitute, and anything that accelerates Mr. Maduro’s demise is good for them. But what happens next?

Many analysts are overlooking the problem of the army of political operatives who were part of the breakdown of the country over the past two decades and now oppose Mr. Maduro.

These include die-hard chavistas like Rafael Ramírez. From 2004 to 2014, Mr. Ramírez was president of PdVSA, Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, which is in ruins. Also in the opposition are career bandits of the political class, who have shared for years in the spoils of corruption no matter who was at the helm. The list includes but is not limited to some members of Venezuela’s infamous Democratic Action Party.

These characters have broken with Mr. Maduro but not with the socialism that made them rich. They seek impunity for their crimes and a place at the feeding trough in the next government. Their strategy is to demand “power sharing” and to threaten to split the opposition if they aren’t dealt in. These self-interested opportunists have support from ideologues in places like the Vatican, which has been an advocate of appeasing Mr. Maduro.

The horrendous toll on humanity from two decades of Venezuelan socialism can’t be overstated. Food and toilet-paper shortages and malnutrition are getting the most attention. But an article in the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease described Venezuela as “an epicenter of the resurgence of multiple vaccine-preventable, vector-borne, and zoonotic diseases with numerous ongoing, co-occurring epidemics.”

Malaria is a particular problem, the authors write, in part because of a large migration to illegal mining areas, a deterioration in the medical infrastructure and “above all, lack of political will.”

This is the legacy not only of Hugo Chávez but also those who embraced socialism, whether because of ideology or greed. He used his early popularity to rewrite the constitution, get the Venezuelan congress to give him the power to rule by decree, confiscate large farms, and attack entrepreneurs from the bully pulpit. He also cracked down on the free press. A few years later, when he trampled the rights of workers at PdVSA and packed the supreme court, the public was uninformed and there was little criticism from abroad. He could do it, the argument went, because he was still winning elections—though electoral institutions were already corrupted.

By 2007 price and capital controls were destroying the country’s productive capacity and harming businesses that sold imports. It was already difficult to find routine foodstuffs like milk, cooking oil, bread and pork. But Chávez had control of PdVSA and was flush with cash. No one could stop him.

Oil money greased every sector of society—from the government, military, business and media to nongovernmental organizations including religious groups. Most important, Chávez used it to bribe and corrupt members of other political parties.

These sycophants, along with the anti-Maduro chavistas, are now worried. They have no ethics and they don’t want Mr. Guaidó to succeed if it means the end of the gravy train—and the power that comes with it. That’s why they want to brand the interim president as a radical right-winger who is pulling off a coup with Washington’s help.

Enemies of democracy, including Cuba and Iran, will try to hold on to their power in Venezuela even if it means a bloodbath. In preparing for this possibility, Mr. Guaidó doesn’t have to worry only about Mr. Maduro’s supporters but also about the weasels who want to seize control of the opposition movement.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Russia wavering?
« Reply #574 on: February 18, 2019, 10:47:30 AM »


Is Russia wavering on Maduro? Russia has been one of the most important, stalwart supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. But over the weekend, an unnamed Gazprombank source told Reuters that the lender has frozen the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA to avoid running afoul of U.S. sanctions. Moscow hasn't officially said anything about it, and PDVSA strongly denied the report, calling it right-wing American propaganda. At this point, it's difficult to verify the report itself, but if true, the potential implications of the report are significant for the Maduro government’s future. One of the main ways the U.S. has been working to buttress opposition leader and self-declared president Juan Guaido has been to cut off the Maduro government's sources of income. It also may suggest a basis for some kind of understanding or negotiations between the U.S. and Russia. That’s all mostly speculation at this point, but there's enough smoke here to begin asking questions.

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Crafty_Dog

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #576 on: February 20, 2019, 08:14:22 AM »
Tangentially I note this bodes well for the Trump's support with a substantial portion of the Latino vote in general and the Florida vote in particular in 2020.

The wider chattering class consciousness tends to see all Latinos as lefty disposed Mexicans.  Reality is quite a bit more complicated than that.

Maybe this has something to do with Trump's surge to above 50% support among Latinos.

DougMacG

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #577 on: February 20, 2019, 08:36:40 AM »
Tangentially I note this bodes well for the Trump's support with a substantial portion of the Latino vote in general and the Florida vote in particular in 2020.

The wider chattering class consciousness tends to see all Latinos as lefty disposed Mexicans.  Reality is quite a bit more complicated than that.

Maybe this has something to do with Trump's surge to above 50% support among Latinos.

Right.  Note that he went to Miami to deliver the speech.  In this particular case, doing the right thing is good politics.  The Sanders and AOCs of the Left are way out of step, "on the wrong side of history", on this.

IF Trump doubles the black Republican vote and approaches 50% with Hispanics, Dems are in deep trouble.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #578 on: February 20, 2019, 10:00:57 AM »
Rubio is not stupid about Latin American affairs, and many Venezuelans have been setting up in Florida for many years now.  Combined with the Cuban vote, and if the felon vote is not strong, we may yet win Florida.

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Gatestone
« Reply #579 on: February 25, 2019, 10:19:32 PM »
How the Trump Administration Should Counter Putin's Policies in Ukraine and Venezuela
by Jiri Valenta  •  February 25, 2019 at 5:00 pm
             
   If Nicolás Maduro is removed from office in Venezuela, Putin might act as he did when a popular revolution overthrew Yanukovych in Ukraine, in 2014: with a surprise invasion of the Crimea. This time, Putin may launch a surprise naval and land attack on Mariupol, set up a land bridge from Crimea to Russia and continue intensifying his attempt to strangle Ukraine's economy in order to subjugate Ukraine to Russia. Trump needs to take immediate preemptive measures to prevent Putin from doing that by increasing naval aid to Kiev.
   So far, Putin seems to have been counting on a lack of American resolve regarding Venezuela, and has just succeeded in getting China to support him.
   If America abdicates its role in Venezuela, you can bet Russia will eventually build intelligence facilities there. Russia has also been providing Nicaragua with "sophisticated weaponry," including "T-72 tanks, war boats, warplanes, and powerful bombs."
   Above all, President Trump must continue as he is doing now, to work towards liberating the Venezuelan people. Any hesitation will be counterproductive.

ccp

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Woolsey Tump should invade Venezuela like Reagan invaded Grenada
« Reply #580 on: March 08, 2019, 07:33:09 PM »
 :-o :-o  not sure I agree here.  Venezuela is not a small island of 100,000 people.

I remember watching our helicopter get shot out of the sky from a hilltop from a missile fired from an old fort

the destroyer responded by firing at the fort which shook and shuddered and rumbled.
smoke then oozed out the windows.
from then on the fort was 100% silent

but i digress:

https://www.newsmax.com/newsmax-tv/woolsey-venezuela-grenada-cuba/2019/03/08/id/906150/

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Re: Woolsey Tump should invade Venezuela like Reagan invaded Grenada
« Reply #581 on: March 08, 2019, 08:19:43 PM »
:-o :-o  not sure I agree here.  Venezuela is not a small island of 100,000 people.

I remember watching our helicopter get shot out of the sky from a hilltop from a missile fired from an old fort

the destroyer responded by firing at the fort which shook and shuddered and rumbled.
smoke then oozed out the windows.
from then on the fort was 100% silent

but i digress:

https://www.newsmax.com/newsmax-tv/woolsey-venezuela-grenada-cuba/2019/03/08/id/906150/

We need to lose one war at a time.

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Re: Venezuela, Socialism Dies in Darkness - pj media
« Reply #582 on: March 10, 2019, 01:35:15 PM »
Nicolás Maduro, FORMER President of Venezuela, TAKE THE DEAL.  I believe he was offered free passage out of Venezuela.  Add some amnesty to the deal and take it.  You have nothing left to offer your former country. You already destroyed it and have no more wealth to confiscate and no other way out.  [My view]
--------------------------------

https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/socialism-dies-in-the-darkness/

[Power grid down] [Critics of Maduro say]:  insufficient investment by the government is the cause, following the 2007 nationalization of the electricity sector.

BTW, We should nationalize all the industries they did - and expect a different result!

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Stratfor
« Reply #583 on: March 14, 2019, 12:44:00 PM »
What Happened

According to a Reuters report released March 12, partially recognized interim President Juan Guaido is preparing new legislation for Venezuela's oil and gas sector that would allow companies other than the country's state-owned energy company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), to operate oil and gas fields. The proposed reforms, which Guaido's allies are presenting at an energy conference in Houston this week, are expected to be released for debate in Venezuela's National Assembly in the coming days.

Guaido's reforms would dismantle PDVSA's monopoly over Venezuela's oil and gas sector by no longer requiring its involvement in every project. In doing so, the laws would fundamentally reverse the country's highly nationalistic regulatory environment in place since former President Hugo Chavez nationalized the industry more than a decade ago.
Why It Matters

By proposing ambitious energy reforms, Guaido is ensuring Venezuelans that he has a rescue plan for the country's recovery should he gain more power. Venezuela's oil and gas sector is the main generator of revenue for the government, and its revitalization is thus paramount to address other factors plaguing Venezuela's recovery, such as its overseas debt obligations and decaying infrastructure.

There is a fair chance Guaido's reforms will pass the National Assembly, which is currently controlled by parties that support his campaign to unseat Maduro. Actually implementing the plan, however, will be a challenge so long as President Nicolas Maduro continues to control the military and, by proxy, the oil sector.

Venezuela's oil sector will still be an expensive and high-risk investment for foreign suitors, especially if they don't already have an established presence in the country.

Even if a transition from Maduro occurred and the new plan for Venezuela's oil sector went into effect, jump-starting investment into the sector — which has seen production collapse in recent years amid the country's ongoing economic and political crisis — would be no easy feat for Maduro's successor, whether that be Guaido or someone else. The country's oil and gas fields have long been neglected, and the heavy oil fields in the Orinoco Basin are also expensive to produce. After suffering years of underinvestment, some of the reservoirs are likely damaged and in need of costly repairs and upgrades to allow the conversion of heavy oil into a more easily transported form. This will make Venezuela an expensive and high-risk investment for foreign suitors, especially if they don't already have an established presence in the country.

And even if enacted, questions over how long the proposed reforms — which are modeled off of Colombia's and Mexico's energy reforms introduced over the last two decades — would remain in effect would give investors pause. While Colombia's reforms have been consistently backed by successive pro-business presidents, new Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's efforts to reverse Mexico's energy reforms show that if the political winds shift in a Latin American country prone to left-wing and populist movements — like Venezuela is — energy reforms may not last.



Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Calls on President Trump to act
« Reply #586 on: March 25, 2019, 04:45:39 PM »
second post

The stakes for American interests keep rising in Venezuela, as Vladimir Putin is now moving his little green men to keep dictator Nicolás Maduro in power. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called his Russian counterpart Monday after Russian air force planes carrying about 100 troops arrived in Caracas Saturday.


“The continued insertion of Russian military personnel” risks “prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people who overwhelmingly support” interim President Juan Guaidó, the State Department said in a statement. It added that Mr. Pompeo called on Russia to “cease its unconstructive behavior and join other nations” that want a better future for Venezuela.

This isn’t Ukraine next to Russia, or Syria in the Middle East. This Russian military provocation is in America’s backyard, and the Trump Administration will have to do more in response than issue statements or phone calls of disapproval. The Maduro regime’s fortress socialism is spreading millions of refugees and havoc throughout the region. President Trump needs to decide if he is going to let Mr. Putin get away with it.

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Is Russia throwing in with Maduro?
« Reply #587 on: March 25, 2019, 10:39:36 PM »
 

Is Russia Throwing Its Lot in With Maduro?

What Happened

Russia is seemingly upping the stakes in Venezuela's standoff — for friend and foe alike to see. In a deliberately visible event, two Russian aircraft reportedly landed at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas on March 22. One plane arrived with 100 Russian military personnel, including the chief of staff of the ground forces, Gen. Vasily Tonkonshkurov, while the other landed with 35 tons of unspecified military equipment. According to an unnamed Venezuelan military official, the Russian forces are there as part of an agreement to assist the South American country in military training and engage in cooperation.

The Big Picture
________________________________________
Its economy in tatters, Venezuela falls further into the abyss with each passing day. Because of the country's deep economic crisis and international pressure, President Nicolas Maduro could be forced to abandon his position, yet and he and his supporters — including key international backers like Russia — are trying to delay his departure for as long as possible. Now, Russia has reportedly upped the ante in the country by deploying more troops, possibly with the aim of prolonging Maduro's stay in power.
________________________________________
Venezuela's Unraveling
Why This Matters

The Russian soldiers could be the first wave of additional troops that will arrive and remain in Venezuela. A greater Russian deployment would raise the stakes of a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, as the use of military force to remove Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro could ignite a direct confrontation with Russian military forces — something that Moscow could bank on the United States wishing to avoid.

Naturally, a semi-permanent Russian deployment could complicate U.S. efforts to oust Maduro, but it would allow Moscow to make strategic inroads into Washington's near abroad and deprive foreign energy companies the prospect of greater investment opportunities in the short term. But given Venezuela's importance to the United States, especially due to its geographic proximity, Washington could seek to counter Russia's actions in Venezuela with a more forceful reaction.

Russia's Calculations

If Russia does deploy even more forces to Venezuela, it would have to consider the size of the force. Realistically, Moscow's options run the gamut from a token force to a larger-scale mission along the lines of its intervention in Syria.

A larger deployment would enable the country to bolster the Maduro government more effectively against internal threats, such as a military coup or a significant armed revolt. It would also allow Russia to spread its forces around the country, potentially deterring a U.S. intervention under the assumption that the United States would hesitate to launch military operations in Venezuela if it feared Russian casualties. In effect, Russia is calculating that the United States is unlikely to risk a wider war with Russia just to topple Maduro's government. Indeed, there is a precedent for such Russian behavior, as Moscow's increased presence in Syria restricted the United States' ability to strike and, ultimately, oust President Bashar al Assad.

The prospect of a larger Russian deployment could even spur the United States to move early to intervene before Russia can entrench itself militarily.

While a larger deployment would offer Russia greater ability to pursue its objectives in the country, it would also present some significant drawbacks, with cost being the most obvious concern. Yet another Syrian-sized deployment would place additional strain on Russia's ability to project force, especially since Venezuela is much farther away than the Levant. A larger, more visible deployment could also ensconce Russia in a potential quagmire, exposing its forces to more dangers and threats in the event that security worsens in the country. But there are potentially graver concerns for Moscow as well: An enhanced Russian military presence in Venezuela might not actually deter the United States from acting against Maduro. What's more, the prospect of a larger Russian deployment could even spur the United States to move early to intervene before Russia can entrench itself militarily.

A smaller deployment would offer Moscow less room to maneuver, but it would not expose Russia to as much risk. A more limited deployment would be less expensive and offer Russia greater flexibility, as it could withdraw its forces much more rapidly in the event that Venezuelan security deteriorates. And while a smaller deployment is likely to present less of an impediment to the United States, it would also put fewer Russian troops in harm's way, thereby decreasing the chances of a wider military conflict.

What to Watch For

So far, Russia has sent few forces to Venezuela, and even then, most of these troops have been on temporary missions. The deployments include Wagner Group mercenaries, rotations of heavy bombers and the latest arrivals on March 22. Accordingly, we will be looking for indications that Russia is preparing to upgrade its presence in Venezuela by deploying troops for longer periods and preparing more forces and materiel for missions to the country. If the Russian government seriously intends to bolster Maduro, it is likely to deploy military forces in and around Caracas, as well as near oil production and export infrastructure.

Of course, the U.S. reaction to this latest Russian move will also be on our radar. Thus far, there is no major indication that the United States is mulling a serious military intervention to preempt greater Russian activity in the country, but this could change if the Maduro government — emboldened by Russian reinforcements — conducts a bloody crackdown on its opponents.
A smaller deployment would offer Moscow less room to maneuver, but it would not expose Russia to as much risk as a larger deployment.

The U.S. strategy so far has been to focus on economic coercion to cripple the Venezuelan government and encourage military defections at the same time as it collaborates with Colombia and Brazil to contain the fallout. The United States will also evaluate the longer-term implication that Russia could establish a military foothold in the Caribbean basin, as that would undermine the core tenets of the Monroe Doctrine, complicating the U.S. imperative to prevent foreign powers from interfering in what it perceives to be its geopolitical domain.

For the moment, the threat of U.S. military intervention has hampered the Venezuelan government's attempts to crack down on growing internal dissent. Indeed, Maduro's government is reluctant to arrest or exile the partially recognized interim president, Juan Guaido, for fear of kick-starting a potential U.S. military intervention.

But if Maduro begins repressing the political opposition and other internal dissenters because he believes Russian forces have effectively eliminated the threat of a U.S. intervention, Venezuela's crisis will develop along two broad possible paths. On one hand, Maduro's opponents may perceive the Russian deployment as a sign they must act against the government sooner, rather than later. Depending on the extent of the plans to unseat Maduro, dissidents within the armed forces may attempt a coup before extensive Russian military deployments or a severe crackdown make that option impossible. On the other hand, the threat of a greater backlash from the government could convince officers sitting on the fence to swing back to the president's camp, making a coup much more difficult to carry out. Whatever the case, the prospects of a greater Russian presence on the shores of the Caribbean is likely to reshuffle the deck on Venezuela.



Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Tide is turning on the opposition
« Reply #590 on: April 17, 2019, 06:08:56 AM »


In Venezuela, the Tide Is Turning on the Opposition
A citizen shows his support for Venezuela's current president, Nicolas Maduro, (pictured in the poster on the left), as well as former President Hugo Chavez.
(FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Highlights

    The continued allegiance of high-ranking military officials remains the main obstacle to opposition efforts to unseat Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. 
    Encouraging officers to desert Maduro and support opposition leader Juan Guaido will be difficult, given the government's ability to threaten or bribe them into remaining loyal.
    To expedite Maduro's exit, the United States will increase sanctions against his government and directly dissuade foreign energy companies from doing business in Venezuela. 
    Maduro's government has also begun laying the foundation for Guaido's arrest, which would complicate and potentially stall the opposition and U.S. push for regime change.

For the first time since opposition leader Juan Guaido announced his bid to unseat President Nicolas Maduro in January, efforts at regime change in Venezuela face the real risk of failure. Though Guaido is free to move about the country and rally crowds against Maduro, there are still no signs he has the support of the key military commanders needed to initiate a prompt and relatively peaceful political transition, despite the United States and the opposition's best efforts. As long as his military remains loyal, Maduro's government will remain in Caracas — leaving Guaido, as well as other prominent opposition figures in Venezuela, vulnerable to a crackdown that could end his bid for power altogether.

The Big Picture

Venezuela's resurgent political opposition has been working to oust President Nicolas Maduro for nearly three months — but so far, to no avail. Despite rising sanctions pressure and the threat of military intervention from the United States, Maduro's government and his military's loyalty remain intact. And as a result, the chances that Venezuela's left-wing government can delay its departure for months, or potentially longer, are rising.

The Loyalty of the Military

The continued allegiance of high-ranking officials in the military remains the chief hurdle to opposition efforts to overthrow Maduro. The opposition's efforts at creating a military schism have so far failed. Commanders did not quickly desert Maduro in the wake of severe U.S. sanctions in January as the United States had hoped for. Instead, they have remained by his side, likely convinced by a combination of threats and financial incentives.

To seriously threaten Maduro, the opposition needs enough military commanders to come to its side, likely by convincing them that the new government will allow them to keep their privileges, power and — in some cases — ill-gotten gains. Any such amnesty agreement would, in theory, allow them to leave power without facing greater repercussions of arrest, imprisonment or extradition to the United States. However, it's unlikely that opposition negotiations will yield a quick political transition. Financial incentives for military officials to remain in power are too great, and the Maduro government will continue to intimidate, bribe or arrest officers perceived to be talking with the opposition.

In addition, the recent arrest of former military intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal has cast a cloud over opposition efforts to sway military officials. Nearly two months after declaring his allegiance to Guaido, Carvajal was arrested April 13 in Spain under a U.S. warrant on cocaine trafficking charges. His successful extradition to the United States would likely have a chilling effect on other military officers thinking about defecting to the opposition — especially since some commanders are involved in trafficking activities that could also land them in a U.S. prison.
Tightening the Noose of U.S. Sanctions

In an attempt to accelerate Maduro's exit, the United States will turn up the sanctions heat by implementing secondary sanctions that prohibit other countries' companies from doing business with Venezuela's state-run energy sector. Signs that Washington might also decide to pressure specific European energy companies to reduce their business ties with Caracas' natural gas sector have emerged following the recent meeting between the U.S. special representative for Venezuela and officials at the Spanish company Repsol. Repsol and Italian company Eni own stakes in an offshore natural gas joint venture that accounts for roughly 15 percent of Venezuela's total gas production. Since Venezuela reinjects natural gas into wells to keep pumping oil, if Repsol and Eni were to reduce their presence in Venezuela, the latter's oil production would plummet even more sharply.

But military commanders' loyalty to Maduro has so far withstood the increasing weight of U.S. sanctions, and will likely continue to hold strong despite these new threats from Washington — even as the country's economy and infrastructure crumble around it.

With Guaido in jail, military dissidents cowed into submission and commanders willing to repress political opponents, Maduro could remain in power for months if not years.

On April 2, the government took the first step to justify Guaido's arrest by stripping the opposition leader of his legal immunity. Maduro had been reluctant to go directly after Guaido — likely in fear of heavier sanctions or military intervention from the United States, and the resulting threat this would pose to the unity of his military commanders. Thus, such a bold move signifies that Maduro and his inner circle are gambling they can mitigate the effect of heavier sanctions on military unity by cracking down on key opposition figureheads, such as Guaido and those close to him, and dissident military forces. With Guaido in jail, military dissidents cowed into submission, and military commanders willing to repress political opponents, Maduro's government could remain in power for at least several more months, if not years.

The looming 2020 presidential election in the United States could also play a role in determining when and how soon Maduro makes his exit. Incumbent President Donald Trump has prioritized regime change in Venezuela. Should Trump fail to secure a second term in 2020, his successor might be less willing to bet on an opposition bid.

Of course, just because a delayed Maduro departure is becoming more likely doesn't make it inevitable. A covert push by lower-ranking military officers to remove Maduro could still prove successful, as could the opposition's efforts to sway higher-ranking commanders to join their side. And the country's increasingly dire economic situation and rapidly crumbling infrastructure — which recently manifested in a monthlong series of nationwide blackouts — could also fuel more riots and crackdowns in poorer neighborhoods and, in turn, spur certain military commanders to split from the government.

But as it stands, what seems most certain is that Maduro's government is gearing up for a crackdown that could possibly result in Guaido's arrest or extradition. Absent a viable opposition figure to seize the presidency, Maduro's armed forces will be even less likely to leave his side. And as a result, the United States will find its path to removing the Venezuelan president largely blocked off — that is, barring direct military intervention


G M

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Crafty_Dog

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Venezuelans regret allowing themselves to be disarmed
« Reply #593 on: April 30, 2019, 04:08:17 PM »
https://www.foxnews.com/world/venezuelans-regret-gun-prohibition-we-could-have-defended-ourselves?fbclid=IwAR29OJD-xiVFMUQGm8K7QAElbqZ5FGhp9MezGiXTGEb8jyyZy-6B-FiQ7TM

https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2019/apr/30/venezuela-national-guard-armoured-vehicle-drives-into-protesters-video?fbclid=IwAR38F3w4uZtcAmfbOL2CgdGxDNoll-9sVy1EU3FhlVIye4S8RcPYk6_i1h0

Also, today on Cavuto, Gen. Keane spoke of several hundred Russian military (including 400 of the Wagner group, of which we last heard when Mattis killed 200 of them in Syria) propping up Gordito Maduro, aided and abetted by Cuban military/security folk.  Should they succeed in propping up Gordito, Keane spoke of Russia (and China and Iran) establishing a beachhead there similar to the Russia-Syrian relationship.

« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 04:15:18 PM by Crafty_Dog »

G M

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Re: Venezuelans regret allowing themselves to be disarmed
« Reply #594 on: April 30, 2019, 09:48:08 PM »
https://www.foxnews.com/world/venezuelans-regret-gun-prohibition-we-could-have-defended-ourselves?fbclid=IwAR29OJD-xiVFMUQGm8K7QAElbqZ5FGhp9MezGiXTGEb8jyyZy-6B-FiQ7TM

https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2019/apr/30/venezuela-national-guard-armoured-vehicle-drives-into-protesters-video?fbclid=IwAR38F3w4uZtcAmfbOL2CgdGxDNoll-9sVy1EU3FhlVIye4S8RcPYk6_i1h0

Also, today on Cavuto, Gen. Keane spoke of several hundred Russian military (including 400 of the Wagner group, of which we last heard when Mattis killed 200 of them in Syria) propping up Gordito Maduro, aided and abetted by Cuban military/security folk.  Should they succeed in propping up Gordito, Keane spoke of Russia (and China and Iran) establishing a beachhead there similar to the Russia-Syrian relationship.



Crafty_Dog

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #596 on: May 01, 2019, 06:32:41 AM »
Apparently Gordito Maduro is hanging out at a military base staffed by Cubans.  I'm hearing there are 20-25k Cuban security forces in the country and some 400-500 Russians and that inflation is well over 1,000,000 percent.

DougMacG

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #597 on: May 01, 2019, 03:18:15 PM »
Apparently Gordito Maduro is hanging out at a military base staffed by Cubans.  I'm hearing " and that inflation is well over 1,000,000 percent.

"inflation is well over 1,000,000 percent."
Have we won the argument yet that the Venezuelan way is no way to run an economy?
At some point can't we just say they don't have a local currency?

"there are 20-25k Cuban security forces in the country and some 400-500 Russians"

The US is not supposed to militarize the conflict with any forces but our enemies already did.  Just thinking aloud but maybe we should send 25k "security forces" to the Presidential Palace in Havana to discuss this and maybe close off the Russian UN delegation in NY until they exit the Venezuelan conflict. 


DougMacG

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Re: Michael Moore on Venezuela 2013
« Reply #599 on: May 02, 2019, 06:22:39 AM »
https://static.pjmedia.com/instapundit/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Screen-Shot-2019-05-01-at-23.18.57.png



This captures it. The left tells us they don't want the Venezuelan type of socialism, but they do. They want those policies and different results.  They want the forced equality without the coercion.  It doesn't work that way.  Now that Venezuela imploded they say they want the Danish type of socialism, but Denmark is not socialist.

I went back in our threads to the posts at the time of the Michael Moore tweet, at the time of Chavez' death and a new election.  One post shows that the left was 100% with Chavez. Here is another describing all that is wrong in Venezuela, crime, hunger and financial collapse, were well known at that time:. That is of no matter to Michael Moore and the left.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/11/3339119/venezuelas-chance-to-move-forward.html

The Miami Herald | EDITORIAL
Venezuela’s chance to move forward

Sunday’s election in Venezuela promises to open a tumultuous new chapter in the history of that South American country. For the first time in 15 years, Hugo Chávez’s name is not on the ballot, but his presence is everywhere. This election is all about him and the legacy of a decade-and-a-half of misrule.

Under normal circumstances, in any democratic country, the electorate would be ripe for a change after 15 years of upheaval that have brought misery for many and created an exodus among those who could leave, many settling in South Florida.

Chronic power outages, food shortages, devaluations, rampant crime, corrupt government aided by communist Cuba — this is the legacy of Hugo Chávez.

For Venezuelans, the choice is clear: They can move forward, restoring the democracy that Venezuela once was, or they can watch their country continue to deteriorate under a Chávez apprentice like the official candidate, Nicolás Maduro, the hand-picked political heir and current vice president.

Not surprisingly, the betting is that Mr. Maduro will win, and for that the candidate can thank his late mentor. Over the course of prolonged tenure, Mr. Chávez created a political machine that sharply curtailed the possibility that the official presidential candidate could lose.

The way Mr. Chávez won election three times and consolidated his grip on Venezuela is no secret. He controlled all the levers of political power, including the council that makes the electoral rules, counts the votes and settles disputes. He used the government’s money and power to promote his candidacy in a way that no opposition political figure could possibly match.

He stifled the independent news media and systematically dismantled the independent institutions that could restrain his power, including the judiciary.

A onetime paratrooper and frustrated coup-plotter, Mr. Chávez stacked the military leadership with loyalists and carefully watched over the ranks to ensure that no one would try to topple him from power by force of arms, as he once tried to overthrow a democratic government in 1992.

Finally, he made sure to woo the country’s large underclass by inducements such as free housing and by lavishing political attention on them, though he failed to create a path to prosperity for anyone except his political cronies, who got rich off government contracts.

All of this poses a virtually insurmountable challenge for Henrique Capriles Radonski, an opposition governor and leader of the political front arrayed against the forces of the government. Hundreds of thousands have shown up at his rallies, attesting to the underlying hunger for change.

Clearly, the playing field is slanted in favor of the Maduro ticket. In an implicit admission of potential ballot chicanery, the government has pointedly rejected any role for international election observers, such as the OAS.

But even if he wins, success promises to be short-lived.

The 50-year-old former bus driver and union leader does not possess Mr. Chávez’s rhetorical gifts, wit or political skills. His limited ability will be put to the test as the economy continues to deteriorate and Venezuelans of all stripes become more restless.

Under this scenario, the political situation could degenerate swiftly. The United States and other democratic countries in the region should stand ready to denounce government abuses and support the advocates of democracy as Venezuela enters a dangerous period
« Last Edit: May 02, 2019, 08:34:38 AM by DougMacG »