Venezuela gets a lifeline from the United States

Nicolás MaduroNicolás Maduro, former bus driver chosen by Hugo Chávez to lead Venezuela after his death, has been struggling to consolidate his position since being declared the victor in a questionable presidential election in April. With economy stalling, inflation spiking and shortages spreading, the new president appears at a loss about how to respond, other than to blame domestic and foreign enemies. Nor has he been able to overcome serious split in Chavista movement between his own, Cuba-backed clique and another based in the military. Perhaps most alarming for Nicolás Maduro, an energized opposition has refused to accept election outcome; its capable leader, Henrique Capriles, has been gaining sympathy around the region. The president of neighboring Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, met with Mr. Capriles on May 29, prompting paroxysms of rage from Mr. Maduro and his aides. Other Latin American governments, while avoiding a confrontation with Caracas, have made it clear they regard the new leader’s legitimacy as questionable; regional group Unasur called for an audit of the election results. One government, however, has chosen to toss Mr. Maduro a lifeline: United States. Last week Secretary of State John F. Kerry took time to meet Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua on sidelines of an Organization of American States meeting, then announced that the Obama administration would like to “find a new way forward” with Maduro administration and “quickly move to the appointment of ambassadors.” Mr. Kerry even thanked Mr. Maduro for “taking steps toward this encounter”, words that the state-run media trumpeted. What did Mr. Maduro do to earn this assistance from Mr. Kerry? Sincé Chávez’s death in March, the Venezuelan leader has repeatedly used the United States as a foil. He expelled two U.S. military attaches posted at embassy in Caracas, claiming that they were trying to destabilize the country; he claimed CIA was provoking violence in order to justify an invasion; and he called President Obama “the big boss of the devils.” A U.S. filmmaker, Timothy Tracy, was arrested and charged with plotting against the government, a ludicrous allegation that was backed with no evidence. Though Tracy was put on a plane to Miami on the day of Kerry-Jaua encounter, Mr. Kerry agreed to the meeting before gesture. Nothing wrong, in principle, with diplomatic meetings or even in dispatching an ambassador to a country such as Venezuela. The State Department has been meeting with senior opposition leaders and has yet to say it recognizes presidential election results. But Kerry’s words amounted to precious endorsement for Mr. Maduro, and the Obama administration appears bent on cultivating him regardless of his actions. Perhaps the increasingly desperate new leader has secretly promised concessions to Washington on matters such as drug trafficking. But with senior government and military officials involved in transhipment of cocaine to United States and Europe, he is unlikely to deliver. In short, this looks like a reset for sake of reset, launched without regard for good timing or cause of Venezuelan democracy. (source: Editorial Board – The Washington Post – 12/06/2013) 


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional


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