Venezuela's international tensions

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Agema:

tstorm823:

But it did. Before the French Revolution, it was the Kingdom of France. Afterwards, it was not. The people and land were the same, but the previous political entity ceased to exist.

In that case, you can argue the USA is a brand new creation, founded since the last legislative / presidential election. Replacing the guy(s) at the top does not a new country make.

No, because changing just the people doesn't change the form and nature of the government. The French Revolution didn't take the government and shuffle some names around, it abolished the monarchy. That's not like electing a new president, or even impeaching one, that's like eliminating the position of president.

We're deep in the weeds here for no good reason. There was an argument that rewriting the Venezuelan Constitution to exclude the legislature is constitutional because their constitution doesn't say you need the National Assembly to rewrite the whole thing, and that is silly. It's as literally extra-constitutional as anything could possibly be, whether or not it is a reasonable thing to do. The Constituent Assembly and the removal of the National Assembly's power were deemed constitutional by the court all and only because the court was packed with Maduro loyalists, not because that's the proper procedure.

This kind of says it all in terms of what Guaido's interest is, really. Please help me engineer political change by making life harder for ordinary Venezuelans. Not exactly rocket science to figure out that maybe, just maybe, his 'leadership' is not in good faith, and that the impetus for his movement is foreign interference.

tstorm823:
Compare that to Venezuela currently, where people in this thread are accusing the opposition of deliberately tanking the economy and causing shortages of basic goods. That's not something you can do in America.

It's absolutely something you can do in America; it'd be even easier. The difference is that both parties are so in the pocket of big business that such behavior by businesses would be self-sabotage.

tstorm823:
The Constituent Assembly and the removal of the National Assembly's power were deemed constitutional by the court all and only because the court was packed with Maduro loyalists, not because that's the proper procedure.

Is there some Constitutional procedure for deciding what is Constitutional that is not the decision of the Supreme Court of Venezuela?

Seanchaidh:

Is there some Constitutional procedure for deciding what is Constitutional that is not the decision of the Supreme Court of Venezuela?

Read the Constitution.

Shocking.

tstorm823:

Seanchaidh:

Is there some Constitutional procedure for deciding what is Constitutional that is not the decision of the Supreme Court of Venezuela?

Read the Constitution.

That's a no.

This is a great interview with an academic in Caracas. I'll highlight one point in particular (directly after the timestamp) and that is that she seems to be under the impression that there are very well-attended protests in Venezuela in support of Maduro and the government, and against the opposition coup. Of course that must be incorrect since CNN et al. would have reported them as relevant context given the interventionist tone of many of their guests, right?

https://youtu.be/mRwrHO4Zi1g?t=1412

Who am I kidding, of course they wouldn't.

https://youtu.be/mRwrHO4Zi1g?t=2046

There is another interesting timestamp, at which Ben Norton asks about a talking point about the Constituent Assembly which tstorm823 (more or less) presented in this thread and Prof. Aline Piva answers it. I shall summarize:

1)What happened in 2016: a number of members elected to the National Assembly were charged with buying votes and their memberships declared illegitimate under Venezuelan electoral law, which should have triggered new elections: at this point the opposition in the National Assembly decided otherwise and swore those members in anyway. Essentially like Congress simply ignoring the rulings of the judiciary. That is, obviously, already a Constitutional crisis.

2)Venezuela called a democratic election to create a Constituent Assembly to address that Constitutional crisis; called on opposition to participate and invited international observers to oversee.

3)Creating such an assembly, claims Aline Piva, is a recognized procedure for dealing with Constitutional crises according to the Constitution of Venezuela.

4)Venezuela did not dissolve the National Assembly (which seems like heroic restraint to me).

From a perspective of political philosophy, holding an election with international observers seems like a perfectly reasonable way to resolve a Constitutional crisis. Beats violence. But the opposition would rather a crisis and violence and a coup than a just resolution. That's why they boycott elections and then cry about them being illegitimate due to their own boycott, and that's why they call for more international sanctions that hurt the people of Venezuela.

It is... odd, to say the least, that the context of the Constituent Assembly elections seems like completely new information as far as what US media has reported. Or it would be odd if you thought that CNN et al. weren't interested in promoting regime change in Venezuela.

edit:

Has US media said much of anything about this? Genuine question.

The Yankee Plot to Overthrow Venezuela

https://grayzoneproject.com/2019/02/03/wsj-venezuela-coup-leader-juan-guaido-neoliberal-capitalist-shock-therapy/

tstorm823:
No, because changing just the people doesn't change the form and nature of the government. The French Revolution didn't take the government and shuffle some names around, it abolished the monarchy. That's not like electing a new president, or even impeaching one, that's like eliminating the position of president.

A country is composed of people, and land, and laws, and culture, etc. When you really look at that totality of what a country is, the governmental system is pretty small beans.

tstorm823:

We're deep in the weeds here for no good reason. There was an argument that rewriting the Venezuelan Constitution to exclude the legislature is constitutional because their constitution doesn't say you need the National Assembly to rewrite the whole thing, and that is silly. It's as literally extra-constitutional as anything could possibly be, whether or not it is a reasonable thing to do. The Constituent Assembly and the removal of the National Assembly's power were deemed constitutional by the court all and only because the court was packed with Maduro loyalists, not because that's the proper procedure.

Yes, but a legal loophole is legal.

We might also note that the Nazis took over Germany and Augustus created the Roman Empire through nominally legal process. There was of course coercion, threat, etc. under the hood, but basic form of the appropriate legal bodies passing the requisite governmental acts was achieved.

When I look at the way that US politics (especially under Trump) has been going, you can see all the same in small ways. Executive orders to bypass legislative oversight; fiddling legislative process with arcane procedure to bypass resistance; stacking the law courts all the way to SCOTUS with friendly judges. All poor democratic conduct, but technically legal. And we'll have to see what happens if Trump attempts building his wall via national emergency - it'll face legal challenge... but he's stacked the courts, hasn't he?

Agema:

Yes, but a legal loophole is legal.

We might also note that the Nazis took over Germany and Augustus created the Roman Empire through nominally legal process. There was of course coercion, threat, etc. under the hood, but basic form of the appropriate legal bodies passing the requisite governmental acts was achieved.

When I look at the way that US politics (especially under Trump) has been going, you can see all the same in small ways. Executive orders to bypass legislative oversight; fiddling legislative process with arcane procedure to bypass resistance; stacking the law courts all the way to SCOTUS with friendly judges. All poor democratic conduct, but technically legal. And we'll have to see what happens if Trump attempts building his wall via national emergency - it'll face legal challenge... but he's stacked the courts, hasn't he?

The way he threw out that national emergency angle and then backed away, I'd hazard a guess somebody told Trump the courts would skewer him if he tries that. He might try it anyway, but there's no way it's going to pass the inevitable legal challenge. The courts are being packed ideologically, they aren't being packed with Trump loyalists. And the Supreme Court hasn't changed at all, Kennedy was replaced with a guy who worked under him and who he approved of as his replacement. (Seriously, if people are worried about the Ruth Bader Ginsburg going out of commission and being replaced, somebody should be short-listing judges with her official stamp of approval, it would make it a lot easier politically to shut down anyone else.)

I get it, some things done legally are evil and some things done outside the law are correct, but if you make up procedures beyond your nation's constitution for the right reasons, you should have the fortitude to say "yes, we are breaking the constitution, it has failed us." To do a complete end around the constitution and then say "of course it's constitutional, what are you talking about?" is dishonest, and when it's someone in power upgrading themselves to absolute power, I don't think there's any way you reasonably justify that.

tstorm823:
To do a complete end around the constitution and then say "of course it's constitutional, what are you talking about?" is dishonest, and when it's someone in power upgrading themselves to absolute power, I don't think there's any way you reasonably justify that.

Not sure what you're talking about, but it isn't Venezuela.

tstorm823:
The way he threw out that national emergency angle and then backed away,

I have no idea what Trump is going to do. His brain just farts out comments, but he seems to try some of them.

The courts are being packed ideologically, they aren't being packed with Trump loyalists.

Sure, I doubt they're Trump loyalists per se. But they might be Republican Party loyalists, and they could easily have been vetted to be amenable to executive power.

I get it, some things done legally are evil and some things done outside the law are correct, but if you make up procedures beyond your nation's constitution for the right reasons, you should have the fortitude to say "yes, we are breaking the constitution, it has failed us." To do a complete end around the constitution and then say "of course it's constitutional, what are you talking about?" is dishonest, and when it's someone in power upgrading themselves to absolute power, I don't think there's any way you reasonably justify that.

I get your point and on a general basis I agree. But often precisely the justification for "unusual" means of constitutional changes is that the old constitution has failed. As long as a president (or whoever) can maintain popularity, they'll push all manner of things through. They can brutally stack the courts probably to approval, the legislature and other elected officials may well fear to resist (because of the risk to their own seats), and it's all over - as Putin, Orban and others have done. It can happen anywhere. Thankfully it's unlikely in the USA currently because the country is so polarised and split right down the centre.

Seanchaidh:

tstorm823:
To do a complete end around the constitution and then say "of course it's constitutional, what are you talking about?" is dishonest, and when it's someone in power upgrading themselves to absolute power, I don't think there's any way you reasonably justify that.

Not sure what you're talking about, but it isn't Venezuela.

You, I'm talking about you. You're the one defending the constitutionality of writing a new constitution over the old one.

tstorm823:

Seanchaidh:

tstorm823:
To do a complete end around the constitution and then say "of course it's constitutional, what are you talking about?" is dishonest, and when it's someone in power upgrading themselves to absolute power, I don't think there's any way you reasonably justify that.

Not sure what you're talking about, but it isn't Venezuela.

You, I'm talking about you. You're the one defending the constitutionality of writing a new constitution over the old one.

The US Constitution specifies an amendment process. The Venezuelan Constitution, according to the academic in Caracas whose position I summarized above, specifies a process of an elected body rewriting the Constitution that can be used to resolve Constitutional crises (such as when opposition legislators apparently violated election law to obtain their positions and the National Assembly refused to hold new elections for those seats, ignoring the judiciary.)

That process is democratic (or at least it would be if the opposition decided it would participate); it is not "someone in power upgrading themselves to absolute power".

edit:

Chapter III: National Constituent Assembly
Article 347
The original constituent power rests with the people of Venezuela. This power may be exercised by calling a National Constituent Assembly for the purpose of transforming the State, creating a new juridical order and drawing up a new Constitution.

Article 348
The initiative for calling a National Constituent Assembly may emanate from the President of the Republic sitting with the Cabinet of Ministers; from the National Assembly, by a two thirds vote of its members; from the Municipal Councils in open session, by a two-thirds vote of their members; and from 15% of the voters registered with the Civil and Electoral Registry

"Read the Constitution", you said. Well there it is, it's pretty straightforward. The decision of Maduro's Supreme Court seems pretty well-founded.

https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Venezuela_2009.pdf

(the quote comes from page 94 of that PDF)

Yes, it's Constitutional to rewrite a Constitution by using the precise process that Constitution lays out to do so. Just like how all our amendments are Constitutional because of Article 5. This isn't a decision that needs "stacked courts" to explain, it's literally in the "judges are able to read" territory.

Seanchaidh:

"Read the Constitution", you said. Well there it is, it's pretty straightforward. The decision of Maduro's Supreme Court seems pretty well-founded.

https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Venezuela_2009.pdf

(the quote comes from page 94 of that PDF)

Yes, it's Constitutional to rewrite a Constitution by using the precise process that Constitution lays out to do so. Just like how all our amendments are Constitutional because of Article 5. This isn't a decision that needs "stacked courts" to explain, it's literally in the "judges are able to read" territory.

It's funny that the end of the section doesn't mention removing the power from the elected legislature, and instead says
"Article 350
The people of Venezuela, true to their republican tradition and their struggle for
independence, peace and freedom, shall disown any regime, legislation or authority
that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees or encroaches upon
human rights."

Funny how that works.

Edit: And before you dig through the whole thing and find "To dissolve the National Assembly in the case contemplated by this Constitution" and think you did it, you found justification in the Constitution for the actions, the "case comtemplated" is this one:

"The third removal of an Executive Vice- President, during the same presidential term
of office as a consequence of motions of censure, authorizes the President of the
Republic, to dissolve the National Assembly. The dissolution order includes the
calling of elections to form a new legislature within 60 days of the dissolution of the
old."

Also, this constitution really sucks.

tstorm823:

Also, this constitution really sucks.

And you wonder why they want to rewrite it?

tstorm823:

It's funny that the end of the section doesn't mention removing the power from the elected legislature,

OK? It's a matter of history that the 1999 Constituent Assembly did exactly that from existing institutions before it was finished writing the Constitution.

tstorm823:
and instead says
"Article 350
The people of Venezuela, true to their republican tradition and their struggle for
independence, peace and freedom, shall disown any regime, legislation or authority
that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees or encroaches upon
human rights."

That doesn't really say anything about moving powers from an elected legislature to an elected Constituent Assembly. Constituent Assemblies are democratic. And if the opposition doesn't want to participate, it's their own fault.

Interesting if true. And if I had to guess, I'd say it probably is. Sending weapons to the right-wing Venezuelan opposition is certainly in character for the United States (and Elliot Abrams in particular).

Seanchaidh:

Interesting if true. And if I had to guess, I'd say it probably is. Sending weapons to the right-wing Venezuelan opposition is certainly in character for the United States (and Elliot Abrams in particular).

Well, if true, they caught someone shipping 1 redneck worth of AR-15s.

tstorm823:

Seanchaidh:

Interesting if true. And if I had to guess, I'd say it probably is. Sending weapons to the right-wing Venezuelan opposition is certainly in character for the United States (and Elliot Abrams in particular).

Well, if true, they caught someone shipping 1 redneck worth of AR-15s.

The plane itself may have been used to transport much more than just what they found:

The Boeing 767 has made dozens of flights between Miami International Airport and destinations in Colombia and Venezuela since Jan. 11, a flight tracking service shows, often returning to Miami for only a few hours before flying again to South America.

The discovery of the weapons occurred Tuesday - two days after the flight landed briefly in Valencia, Venezuela's third-largest city - as tax authorities and other inspectors conducted a routine inspection of cargo that came off the flight, according to a statement by the Carabobo state governor's office.

A senior Venezuelan security official, Bolivarian National Guard Gen. Endes Palencia Ortiz, who is the nation's vice minister of citizen security, said authorities found 19 assault weapons, 118 ammunition cartridges, and 90 military-grade radio antennas, among other items.

Read more here: https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/latin-america/article225949200.html#storylink=cpy

Seanchaidh:

The plane itself may have been used to transport much more than just what they found:

What's your opinion of the simultaneous claims that a)the plane was being sent with shipments of guns funded by the United States, and b) they discovered these doing routine customs inspections 2 days after the crate was dropped off?

If that crate sat around waiting for inspection for 2 days, what happened to the rest of it? Do they just set a package aside from the shipment and send the rest through untouched?

On the record, I'm pretty confident this is propaganda. That they looked at flight logs to find someone traveling between the US and South America, then took a picture of unrelated guns at the last place it had stopped so they could claim (not even imply, just outright say) that the US government is arming terrorists.

tstorm823:

Seanchaidh:

The plane itself may have been used to transport much more than just what they found:

What's your opinion of the simultaneous claims that a)the plane was being sent with shipments of guns funded by the United States, and b) they discovered these doing routine customs inspections 2 days after the crate was dropped off?

If that crate sat around waiting for inspection for 2 days, what happened to the rest of it? Do they just set a package aside from the shipment and send the rest through untouched?

On the record, I'm pretty confident this is propaganda. That they looked at flight logs to find someone traveling between the US and South America, then took a picture of unrelated guns at the last place it had stopped so they could claim (not even imply, just outright say) that the US government is arming terrorists.

Did you actually read the article? Because if so, I'd have to ask why you're not commenting on the fact that the plane abruptly changed its previously very scattered pattern of flights in January and started moving exclusively between the United States, Colombia, and Venezuela. The potential isn't just for one shipment but many shipments. And if a smuggler is using a civilian plane with a civilian airport (group of?) accomplice(s), then one way for that kind of thing to get found out is a partial (or indeed, full) shipment accidentally getting routed through customs rather than avoiding it.

The fact that Elliott Abrams was the one Trump appointed as Venezuelan envoy-- literally one of the people involved in the Iran-Contra affair and responsible for getting US weapons into the hands of dictators and Latin American governments that were created out of military coups as well as lied to (or bullshitted, if you prefer) Congress about their human rights abuses-- lends a fair amount of credence to the idea that the Trump administration's aims involve helping to arm and propagandize in favor of the Venezuelan opposition. We've seen plenty of the latter, with the complicity of US media, after all.

Is this proof? No, not even close. But such a theory of the case makes a hell of a lot of sense given the record of Elliott Abrams and the United States's history with respect to Venezuela more generally. If the claims made by the Venezuelan government are merely fabrications, they managed to do a pretty good job of making them believable.

Wikipedia:
Guatemala

[Elliott Abrams's] first high profile position started with the Ronald Reagan administration, when he assured military aid to the Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who came to power after a coup in 1982. Abrams defended R?os Montt as he oversaw a campaign of mass murder and torture of indigenous people in Guatemala. R?os Montt was later convicted of genocide against the Maya-Ixil population.[12]

El Salvador

In early 1982, when reports of the El Mozote massacre of hundreds of civilians by the military in El Salvador began appearing in U.S. media, Abrams told a Senate committee that the reports of hundreds of deaths at El Mozote "were not credible," and that "it appears to be an incident that is at least being significantly misused, at the very best, by the guerrillas."[13] The massacre had come at a time when the Reagan administration was attempting to bolster the human rights image of the Salvadoran military. Abrams implied that reports of a massacre were simply FMLN propaganda and denounced U.S. investigative reports of the massacre as misleading. In March 1993, the Salvadoran Truth Commission reported that over 500 civilians were "deliberately and systematically" executed in El Mozote in December 1981 by forces affiliated with the Salvadoran government.[14]

Nicaragua

When Congress shut down funding for the Contras' efforts to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government with the 1982 Boland Amendment, members of the Reagan administration began looking for other avenues for funding the group.[18] Congress opened a couple of such avenues when it modified the Boland Amendment for fiscal year 1986 by approving $27 million in direct aid to the Contras and allowing the administration to legally solicit funds for the Contras from foreign governments.[19] Neither the direct aid, nor any foreign contributions, could be used to purchase weapons.[19]

Guided by the new provisions of the modified Boland Amendment, Abrams flew to London in August 1986 and met secretly with Bruneian defense minister General Ibnu to solicit a $10-million contribution from the Sultan of Brunei.[20][21] Ultimately, the Contras never received this money because a clerical error in Oliver North's office (a mistyped account number) sent the Bruneian money to the wrong Swiss bank account.

Iran-Contra affair and convictions

During investigation of the Iran-Contra Affair, Lawrence Walsh, the Independent Counsel tasked with investigating the case, prepared multiple felony counts against Abrams but never indicted him.[20] Instead, Abrams cooperated with Walsh and entered into a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress.[22] He was sentenced to a $50 fine, probation for two years, and 100 hours of community service. Abrams was pardoned by President George H. W. Bush in December 1992.[23]

https://theintercept.com/2019/01/30/elliott-abrams-venezuela-coup/

The Intercept:
The choice of Abrams sends a clear message to Venezuela and the world: The Trump administration intends to brutalize Venezuela, while producing a stream of unctuous rhetoric about America's love for democracy and human rights. Combining these two factors - the brutality and the unctuousness - is Abrams's core competency.

Seanchaidh:

Did you actually read the article? Because if so, I'd have to ask why you're not commenting on the fact that the plane abruptly changed its previously very scattered pattern of flights in January and started moving exclusively between the United States, Colombia, and Venezuela.

Call me naive, but if it isn't US funded military intervention, perhaps there's a major humanitarian crisis down there, and people are trying to ship in the food and medicine the Maduro is actively turning down.

https://fair.org/home/western-media-fall-in-lockstep-for-cheap-trump-rubio-venezuela-aid-pr-stunt/

FAIR.org:
Indeed, as Bevins also noted, the Red Cross has long been working with local authorities inside Venezuela to deliver relief, and just last week doubled its budget to do so. We have ample evidence the Maduro government is more than willing to work with international aid when it's offered in good faith, not when it's a thinly veiled mechanism to spur civil war and contrive PR victories for those seeking to overthrow the government. It's not just Maduro-as the Western media are presenting it-who opposes the US aid convoy; it's the UN and Red Cross. Why do none of the above reports note this rather key piece of information, instead giving the reader the impression it's only the stance of a sadistic, power-hungry madman?

tstorm823:

Seanchaidh:

Did you actually read the article? Because if so, I'd have to ask why you're not commenting on the fact that the plane abruptly changed its previously very scattered pattern of flights in January and started moving exclusively between the United States, Colombia, and Venezuela.

Call me naive, but if it isn't US funded military intervention, perhaps there's a major humanitarian crisis down there, and people are trying to ship in the food and medicine the Maduro is actively turning down.

The start of the new behavior on January 11 matches (somewhat) better with a theory of military assistance than the alleviation of sanctions, in my opinion.

edit:

Apparently many people are lining up to sign a petition denouncing US imperialism in Venezuela. Good.

The same pathologies that allowed the US destruction of Iraq to happen are going to destroy Venezuela.

Seanchaidh:

The same pathologies that allowed the US destruction of Iraq to happen are going to destroy Venezuela.

Yeah, but will they insult people's intelligence by claiming WMDs? To be fair, where exactly are they going to get a fresh batch of young soldiers? Basically Venezuela would be a Latin Afghanistan. And because of decades of U.S. shadow conflicts in the region, there's no shortage of materiel.

2.77 million service personal on 5.4 million deployments over the 21st century. Most served two tours. By capita population, Australia had a persistently larger presence of soldiers than the U.S. in Afghanistan for much of the conflict... so unless its traditional partners in international regime change radically bolster total manpower it's not like you'll find the same level commitment, there.

Neither Australia nor UK would be so enamoured regardless, given we have closer interests elsewhere that may necessitate more deployments and military exercises with Indo-Pacific powers. Venezuela is only really of interest to a U.S. Moreover I doubt an Australian government, nor a UK government, would survive yet another fake casus belli to mobilize forces in any sufficient quantity.

Besides, it's no longer Middle Easterners anymore, these are Westerners--so you can't even count on general (non-U.S.) racism anymore to actually carry some of the argument.

So unless you can magically argue how invading and occupying Venezuela somehow maintains a status quo ante bellum between global shipping and Chinese micro-aggresions in the SW Pacific you're going to have trouble.

Basically any time in the immediate short term is a really bad time for the U.S. to ask for support for any more 'Coalition of the Willing'. Australian politics have been in damage control since Howard, and the UK is practically paralyzed on effectively a document they have to sign but is political suicide for anyone that does, even though they know they inevitably have to.

It's like if you complain about being sick, yet you routinely bemoan and put off getting a flu shot that will ust make them slightly less sick but at least manage the sickness.

So basically it would be solely a U.S. effort. Likely requiring hundreds of thousands of soldiers, fighting for decades. And it would be another insurgency without end.

A lot of service personnel are already 'serving tired' ... Venezuela doesn't look too big on a map, but it's actually twice as big as Iraq. That's a lot of jungle and mountain, and it's not like there'd be any shortage of volunteers from surrounding countries. I also wouldn't be surprised if the Chinese began funneling cheap arms into the region if there was more weight to the argument of actual boots on the ground. Basically that will be the biggest indicator whether the U.S. was legitimately planning something.

Besides... why use soldiers when you can do what you've always done in SA... fund a Colombian hit squad?

Some interesting content filmed in Caracas:

Seems like there are plenty of Maduro supporters among the Venezuelan working class.

Seanchaidh:
Apparently many people are lining up to sign a petition denouncing US imperialism in Venezuela. Good.

It's not that I'm remotely sympathetic to the USA's heavy-handed actions towards ensuring Latin American states elect US-friendly leaders, but I'm just not sympathetic to Maduro either.

I had more time for Chavez, but even right from the start with him, we had all sorts of warning signs of how it might not turn out well. One way or another, Venezuala's in a right old mess, and the Chavez-Maduro reforms are a significant part of the problem. It is plain at this point Maduro has nothing to offer to resolve these problems and is falling into the same old time-worn tactics of tightening his grip on power in ever more autocratic ways. What's particularly serious is that from the evidence of unsafe electoral procedure and vastly reduced support in the last elections, he now has a democratic mandate that could best be described as severely tarnished, and at worst illegitimate.

Agema:

Seanchaidh:
Apparently many people are lining up to sign a petition denouncing US imperialism in Venezuela. Good.

It's not that I'm remotely sympathetic to the USA's heavy-handed actions towards ensuring Latin American states elect US-friendly leaders, but I'm just not sympathetic to Maduro either.

I had more time for Chavez, but even right from the start with him, we had all sorts of warning signs of how it might not turn out well. One way or another, Venezuala's in a right old mess, and the Chavez-Maduro reforms are a significant part of the problem. It is plain at this point Maduro has nothing to offer to resolve these problems and is falling into the same old time-worn tactics of tightening his grip on power in ever more autocratic ways. What's particularly serious is that from the evidence of unsafe electoral procedure and vastly reduced support in the last elections, he now has a democratic mandate that could best be described as severely tarnished, and at worst illegitimate.

As much as that might be the case, the solution to Venezuela's problems, if there is to be one, must come from among those sympathetic to the Bolivarian revolution, not those who wish to destroy it. It's not coming from Guaido and it's certainly not coming from the United States (unless the solution is "stop fucking with Venezuela"). Whether that means Maduro changing direction or being succeeded by another leader on the left is a reasonable question.

When you have the United States fomenting a coup in your country keeping strict control on the military and taking no prisoners when it comes to political maneuvering is sound management. When domestic businesses are deliberately sabotaging the economy, and sending their goods abroad to escape the price controls necessary to get inflation under control, cracking down on those businesses just makes sense. And in such an overheated, overpressured political climate, it is silly to let a violent opposition that regularly takes to the streets to assault and intimidate those who they perceive as their enemies, it is perhaps a bit naive to put blind faith in counting ballots: one must make sure that everyone who wants to have a say can have their say without feeling afraid that they'll be 'sacrificed in the name of free enterprise' to bring back a phrase from news reports concerning Elliott Abrams's other misadventures in Latin America.

Suppressing the Venezuelan opposition is perfectly in line with, for example, the philosophy behind modern German constitutional principles (militant democracy). The opposition can whine about 'authoritarianism' if they like, but they're the ones burning people alive, sitting out of elections, declaring themselves president without any constitutional legitimacy, conspiring with a hostile foreign power, and throwing grenades out of helicopters.

Seanchaidh:

As much as that might be the case, the solution to Venezuela's problems, if there is to be one, must come from among those sympathetic to the Bolivarian revolution...

It's not going to though, is it?

Maduro seems unable to respond, and there's no evidence of anyone replacing him. Never mind that, but the leftist movement he represents have surrendered so much credibility, it's hard to see them winning a legitimate election even if they did manage to give him the push.

Maduro has happily embraced authoritarianism to protect his position. Millions of Venezualans are voting with their feet (about 3 million according to the UN). GDP has halved. At some point, leftists have to cut their losses, abandon the dream and have the courage to admit Maduro has turned the Bolivarian revolution into another shitty, tinpot socialist failure. The last thing the left needs now is to end up fondly recalling another humanitarian disaster.

Agema:

Seanchaidh:

As much as that might be the case, the solution to Venezuela's problems, if there is to be one, must come from among those sympathetic to the Bolivarian revolution...

It's not going to though, is it?

Maduro seems unable to respond, and there's no evidence of anyone replacing him. Never mind that, but the leftist movement he represents have surrendered so much credibility, it's hard to see them winning a legitimate election even if they did manage to give him the push.

Maduro has happily embraced authoritarianism to protect his position. Millions of Venezualans are voting with their feet (about 3 million according to the UN). GDP has halved. At some point, leftists have to cut their losses, abandon the dream and have the courage to admit Maduro has turned the Bolivarian revolution into another shitty, tinpot socialist failure. The last thing the left needs now is to end up fondly recalling another humanitarian disaster.

I don't really think you can blame Maduro for Trump seizing Citgo and giving it to the opposition (and a great many other things). The strength of the "how many more countries does the CIA need to overthrow before you'll be convinced socialism doesn't work?" argument isn't a good reason for Venezuelans to abandon their political project.

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