Fareed on Developments in Venezuela

February 11, 2019

Fareed on Developments in Venezuela



The Trump administration faces a test in Venezuela. It must pursue a foreign policy that helps usher out the odious regime of President Nicolás Maduro without triggering a backlash against perceived U.S. “imperialism.” It must support a political transition that doesn’t threaten the old guard so much that it fights to the end. And the United States must join other nations to help a country that has virtually been destroyed over the past decade. All this requires careful diplomacy, multilateralism and quiet pressure, not bombast.

But Venezuela also poses a challenge for the Democratic Party. Can it find its voice on Venezuela, and foreign policy more generally? There are worrying signs that the new Democratic foreign policy could turn out to be a reflexive isolationism that is not so different from President Trump’s own “America First” instincts.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said, “The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said, “We cannot hand pick leaders for other countries on behalf of multinational corporate interests.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) noted, “We must learn the lessons of the past and not be in the business of regime change or supporting coups.” Leftist hero Noam Chomsky and several dozen other academics and activists have signed a letter largely blaming the crisis in Venezuela on U.S. actions.

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Does one really have to explain that Venezuela’s problems have been primarily caused by its own nasty government? That the Venezuelan people have not been allowed to determine their own future or pick their own leaders for years, going back to Hugo Chávez’s rule? The current government has clung to power by rigging elections, crushing opposition parties, muzzling the media and using lethal force against protesters. During a single week in January, pro-Maduro forces allegedly killed at least 30 people and arrested at least 850, according to the United Nations.

The Chávez-Maduro regime has destroyed what was once Latin America’s richest nation, producing an almost unimaginable inflation rate of 1 million percent. (Prices double approximately every 19 days.) The simplest, bleakest indicator of how bad things are in Venezuela is that since 2015, an estimated 3 million Venezuelans have fled the country. That’s about 10 percent of the country, equivalent to an exodus of 33 million Americans.

But millions more Venezuelans are staying and fighting. They have come out in droves to vote against this government, almost driving Maduro out in 2013 despite an unfair election, and successfully bringing an opposition parliament to power in 2015. For the past few years, Venezuelans have organized massive protests against the regime, enduring tear gas, arrests and killings. They have rallied behind an opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, and are using a constitutional process to shift control of the government from the regime to the elected parliament.

Over the years, the Venezuelan government has used its oil wealth to support anti-American movements throughout Latin America, from Cuba to Nicaragua. It has deep ties to drug traffickers, and it is well documented that the nation has developed ties with Iran and even Hezbollah. The Maduro regime is, not surprisingly, being supported by a rogues’ gallery of strongmen, including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

There is a larger debate to be had about the path forward for a progressive foreign policy. There is appropriate skepticism about a U.S. defense budget that is $700 billion and growing. There are lessons to be learned from the overextension of American power abroad, from interventions that have gone on too long. Policy toward Venezuela will require tact, caution, regional engagement and more. But to shield us from the dangers of mistakes and bad actions, the answer is surely not resolute inaction.

Image result for A Foreign Policy for the Left,” political philosopher (and card-carrying leftist) Michael Walzer argues t.

In a brilliant book released last year, “A Foreign Policy for the Left,” political philosopher (and card-carrying leftist) Michael Walzer argues that the default position of the left has tended to be inaction. The world is complicated, U.S. power can be misused, information is never enough, so best to just stay out.But those criteria could be a counsel for inaction at home as well. After all, a swift transition to Medicare-for-all would also be fraught with complexities and risks.

Walzer makes a powerful case that “in a world beset by wars and civil wars, religious zealotry, terrorist attacks, far right nationalism, tyrannical governments, gross inequalities, and widespread poverty and hunger, [the world] requires intelligent leftist attention.” One additional example: You cannot tackle climate change without a deep and continuing engagement with the other 95 percent of humanity.“Our deepest commitment is solidarity with people in trouble,” Walzer writes. Right now, there are millions in trouble in our hemisphere who are trying to help themselves. They deserve the active support of the American left.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

Washington Post

20 thoughts on “Fareed on Developments in Venezuela

    • A liberal voice for today’s Venezuela?

      A strong loving voice.
      What Venezuela needed is much more. Leader change is only one. Political restructuring, debt forgiveness, and policy change. US, China, and the neighbouring nations need to work together. But, I am very doubtful any of those would take place. 1BR can’t expect to work without an aspect of humane face. Malaysia’s case is one. China bailed out the nation, and it is made the fall guy as loan shark? Why else that could fly, except ….

  1. Venezuela done in by Hard Left economic policies and low oil prices.
    Hard Left = advice from radical Marxist economic advisors from Spain, for example.

    Hyperinflation can be stopped by policies such as “dollarisation” (can use other foreign currency, since the USA is considered unfriendly) . Countries such as Zimbabwe used this strategy successfully.


  2. Katasayang:

    American and Western media are hiding crucial facts about Venezuela. There is no doubt the Venezuelan government has done a lot of mistakes but the crisis today is created by the American economic sanction against the country. This is not my conclusion but the conclusion of Alfred de Zayas, a former secretary of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and an expert in international law.

    Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas was sent on a facts finding mission to Venezuela in late 2017, the first in 21 years, and he has criticized the US for engaging in “economic warfare” against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans. He condemns the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to “crimes against humanity” under international law.

    Mr. de Zayas filed his official Venezuela report to the UN General Assembly on August 3, 2018, which has been covered-up ever since – under the pressure of the mighty US, of course. Below is his report and I call your attention to read key paragraphs #22 to #38.

    Click to access un-report-on-venezuela-and-ecuador-alfred-de-zayas.pdf

    From his fact-finding mission to Venezuela, Mr. de Zayas found internal overdependence on oil, poor governance and corruption had hit the Venezuelan economy hard, but said “economic warfare” practiced by the US, EU and Canada are significant factors in the economic crisis.

    In his report, Mr de Zayas recommended, among other actions, that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as possible crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute. The US sanctions are illegal under international law because they were not endorsed by the UN Security Council.

    US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government. The sanctions are part of a US effort to overthrow the Venezuelan government and install a more business friendly regime, as was done in Chile in 1973 and elsewhere in the region.

    What’s at stake is the enormous, enormous natural resources of Venezuela. If Venezuela had no natural resources the US would not give a damn about Chavez or Maduro or anybody else there. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and an abundance of other natural resources including gold, bauxite and coltan. But under the Maduro government they’re not easily accessible to US and transnational corporations. US oil companies had large investments in Venezuela in the early 20th century but were locked out after Venezuelans voted to nationalize the industry in 1973.

    The US is driven by the transnational corporations. The business of the US is business. And that’s what the US is interested in. And the US can’t currently do business with Venezuela. So, the aim of the US is very obvious: To crush the current Venezuelan government to bring in a neoliberal government that is going to privatize everything and is going to sell out so that a lot of transitional corporations stand to gain enormous profits.

    In his report, Mr de Zayas expressed concern that those calling the situation a “humanitarian crisis” are trying to justify regime change and that human rights are being “weaponized” to discredit the government and make violent overthrow more “palatable”.

    I know you read quite broadly, katasayang. Unfortunately, from your write-ups, you give me the impression that you are content to read with superficial understanding (不求甚解). I won’t take you in my research team, young fella. LOL

    • Mr LaMoy, for a Republican, you sound more and more left-wing over time 🙂 What you write is essentially correct. But let’s not forget that countries like Cuba, and Ecuador (under Rafael Correa) were able to successfully resist economic warfare launched by unfriendly foreign regimes. Maduro regime’s economic policies are also to be blamed for the economic collapse of Venezuela.

    • @LaMoy thanks for the information, especially introducing me to the work of Mr de Zayas. I am also greatful to even catch your attention. Like what you have suggested, counting the stars is really what I am doing as I walk towards to my end, as I hardly would suggest anyone to court me into any serious work.
      Nonetheless, I am glad there is still this op-ed from Charles Lane that probably sums up what I thought could speak better of my thought.


      A sad reality is that not doing anything is bad. If there is any chance for the people of Venezuela, it is when all parties are involved so that there could be a chance for a balance of power.
      I am glad China didn’t just do nothing.

      My prayer is that the people of Venezuela get fed, clothed and housed warmly today. Neo-liberalism in America is not new to me. It is sad Potus took advantage of that.

      For myself, owning up to oneis not to continue the sanction or mere lifting of a sanction.

    • Putting ideal aside, I still see little chance of all will work together. It is just that little thing we learn from Game Theory that Prisoners just won’t work together. Uncle LaMoy, you are right. I am clueless. Hopefully Mr de Zayas could work out something.

    • Dr. Phua:

      Those were not my ideas. Those were Mr. Alfred de Zayas’ findings, from his special mission sent by the UN. I simply reiterated Mr. de Zayas’ findings.

      Mr. de Zayas did point out in his report that Venezuela did make a lot of mistakes, but the “economic warfare” practiced by the US, EU and Canada are the significant factors in the economic crisis Venezuela is facing now.

      It is true Cuba and Ecuador were able to successfully resist economic warfare launched by unfriendly foreign regimes. Perhaps that’s because they don’t have the enormous natural resources, specifically oil, like Venezuela, and thus did not face an economic warfare as severe. Mr. de Zayas pointed out bluntly that the US, EU and Canada are targeting at these enormous natural resources of Venezuela.

      The same with the Middle East. If Middle East had no oil, the US and EU would not give a damn about what the “sand niggers” (as I remember from the US Army what they called the Arabs) doing there.

      I believe Mr. Alfred de Zayas had done a fair and objective study of the situations in Venezuela.

      Read Mr. de Zayas’ detailed report to the UN General Assembly. Enjoy your reading.

  3. Dr. Phua:

    Those were not my ideas. Those were the findings of Mr. Alfred de Zayas from his special mission sent by the UN. I simply reiterated from his report to the UN General Assembly.

    It’s true Cuba and Ecuador had been able to successfully resist economic warfare launched by unfriendly foreign regimes. Perhaps that’s because they don’t have the enormous natural resources, specifically oil, and did not have to face an economic warfare as severe as Venezuela.

    Read the long and detailed report from Mr. de Zayas. He did pointed out the many mistakes done by the Venezuelan government. But he pointed out the economic warfare from the US, EU and Canada are the most significant factors leading to today’s crisis in Venezuela.

  4. By expanding the size of government through nationalizing resources and companies, Venezuela becomes the latest nation biting the dust as the resulting of adopting socialism. Corruption is just the symptom of the real decease called socialism, which is fatally attractive to many developing nations.

    Only liberty as etched in US Constitution has a chance to counteract the pull of dependency to state; the dependency to state and therefore susceptibility to corruption is inherent to socialistic system. But for liberty to work, individuals must have a faith not tied to the government; i.e. secular government with religious population.

    You can predict rather accurately a nation’s well being by looking into these two key indicators:

    1) Is the government secular?
    2) Does the population has a strong faith not tied to government?

    When government expands its role reaching deep into individual life, the citizens will have no choice but put its faith on government. If you paid 50% tax or government owned massive oil production, you have no choice but put your faith on government to do “everything” right. That is national disaster in waiting.

    When a religion claims governance role as in Islamism, the citizens are stealthily cheated to worship government even though the citizens intend initially to worship god/truth of their religion. That is also national disaster in waiting.

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