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18/09/2015 | The Meaning of Venezuela’s Aggressive Moves Against Colombia

Nancy Menges and Luis Fleischman

According to many analysts, the Venezuelan government has now lost its legitimacy. Its insistence on following its failed economic policies while promoting criminality instead of the rule of law and jailing its opponents while rigging its computers so as to commit electoral fraud has led many observers to conclude that Venezuela is no longer a functioning country.


From now onward, its modus operandi is simply to survive and maintain power. Keeping the Bolivarian Revolution alive has always been the driving force of the Venezuelan government. The well being of the people was just an excuse that gave legitimacy to the new revolutionaries.

The evils and flaws of the regime are now quite apparent. However, there are those that still support the regime such as the nomenclature, the circle of people that surrounds and empowers the regime; the opportunists who have benefited from their association with the regime and became rich in the process (e.g. the boliburguesia); and those poor people that remain grateful to the Bolivarian regime for distributing government handouts.

Of course, this may not be enough to help the Venezuelan government survive through the next election.

Currently, the price of oil is at $40 a barrel. The Venezuelan government has designed its budget based on at least $60 a barrel. The country has lost its productive capacity. Scarcity of basic products has been a serious problem for the long-suffering Venezuelan people. Given the limited reserves available to  the Venezuelan government as a result of having destroyed their productive apparatus and having spent enormous amounts of money on populist policies and foreign aid there is currently not even enough to import what the Venezuelan people need. In response, the Venezuelan government is resorting to fascist methods such as falsely accusing opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez of creating chaos in an already chaotic, insecure, and criminal country.

Another of Nicolas Maduro’s tactics has been to brazenly accuse innocent Colombian refugees living in Venezuela of smuggling and has proceeded to deport them in the most degrading circumstances. The world saw shocking images of hundreds of Colombians with families and little children crossing a border river carrying refrigerators and heavy household items, as well as animals.

The accusation is that they smuggle goods, import poverty to Venezuela, and enable the infiltration of Colombian para-military into Venezuela. However, there was also a bold attempt to blame Colombian foreigners for the Venezuelan economic deterioration. Thus, it declared martial law in all the municipalities bordering with Colombia.

The actions taken by the Venezuelan government with respect to Colombia are not only morally deplorable but also absurd and cynical in themselves. First the only paramilitary group that has entered Colombia is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the narco-terrorist Colombian guerrilla group that is friendly to the Venezuelan government and hostile to the Colombian one.

However, the main point here is that Maduro needed to find a scapegoat and used Colombia and Colombians to cast aside blame from himself for the disastrous state of present day Venezuela.

Unfortunately, the government of Colombia under the leadership of President Juan Miguel Santos formerly sought reconciliation with the Venezuelan government, supported the government of Venezuela in international and regional forums and accepted a dialogue with its arch enemy, the FARC mediated by Venezuela (and Cuba). The latter move was fully supported by the Obama Administration.

Now the government of Colombia, to no surprise, has been betrayed by the government of Venezuela in what is clearly a foretold situation.

What is worse, the organization of American States (OAS) voted against a Colombian proposal to have a meeting to discuss the border situation and the deportations.

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has delayed discussion of the issue. The “humanitarian and compassionate” left sided again with the Maduro government even as human beings were suffering as a result of discrimination policies.

Thus, the Santos Government has appealed to the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights of the OAS, which is willing to consider the case. Santos finds himself alone again in a continent whose behavior is sickening. The Colombian Foreign Minister, Maria Angela Holguin, pledged not to remain silent in the face of Venezuelan behavior and will appeal to the United Nations and other international bodies.

We would hope that Santos now realizes that his policy of reconciliation with the FARC and Venezuela is nothing but a dangerous illusion. As such it needs a serious re-evaluation. The Maduro government has appealed to the most unacceptable methods to save itself and in the process has betrayed the Santos government. Will the stubborn President Santos learn the lesson? We only hope.

This is only in anticipation of what the upcoming Venezuelan legislative elections on December 6 are going to be: a huge fraud likely to be followed by a popular rebellion.

Of course, this is also going to be a challenge for the Obama Administration.

Obama’s policy of complacency with a group of countries that do not share any values of democracy and human rights needs to stop. . So far, Obama’s policies have been an attempt to adapt to the spirit of the new Latin America. Nothing embodies this spirit more than UNASUR, which has supported the Maduro regime and displayed disregard for the democratic charter of the Organization of American States. Will the Obama administration continue to follow the Latin American and UNASUR wind and continue with its’ efforts to reconcile with the narco-authoritarian state of Venezuela that is also allied with the Hezbollah terrorists? Will it continue to endorse the failed Colombian policy of cooperation with Venezuela and the FARC?

If the current Iran deal experience has taught us anything it is that official U.S. foreign policy requires strong Congressional and public scrutiny. The constitutional tradition that assumed that the executive branch is well equipped and wise enough to make autonomous decisions on foreign policy is under serious question now.

Major crises are now affecting many of the counties of Latin America. The Brazilian, Venezuelan, Ecuadorian and Argentinean economic and political crisis could well lead to the entire questioning of the regional ideology embedded in UNASUR. To conduct a regional policy aimed at complying with the current spirit in Latin America as the Obama Administration suggested, is not only dangerous but obsolete as well. We need to remain faithful to our values of democracy and human rights and not throw a lifeline to repressive, corrupt regimes that also work against our national security interests, such as Venezuela.

Center for Security Policy (Estados Unidos)


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