Previous posts in this discussion:
PostChavez, Maduro, and Election Fraud (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 09/12/18 3:42 am)
I was determined not to continue this particular discussion with Carmen Negrín about Venezuela or Franco´s exhumation, but I feel compelled to add some clarifications to her last post on Venezuela, Maduro and Chávez. I have nothing further to add on the Franco exhumation.
First, I never intended to hint that Carmen harbors sympathies for Nicolás Maduro, That would have been insulting, and my apologies if that was her interpretation. My comment was only about the relevance of Chávez and Maduro's personalities when compared to the pernicious effect of their policies.
Though less important, Carmen speculated on why Chávez refused World Heritage status for Los Roques, close to the Island of La Orchila. Her guess was that he did not want to take the risk of being spied upon or his privacy invaded when at his holiday residence. I doubt this is the reason. Chávez never wanted to be near La Orchila, because that was where he was imprisoned in 2002 during the military attempt to remove him. Most likely his memories of this place were not sweet and he had no desire to revive them. The most likely reason was that he did not want to permit any official recognition from an institution, such as UNESCO, which he always despised.
Carmen also wrote, "To be fair, [Chávez's] politics (obviously not from his own pocket) were generous towards other Latin American countries, as well as to the very poor in the country he was governing." The "generosity" towards other countries must be interpreted in the context of his, and Castro´s, political ambitions to export the Bolivarian "revolution" to other places in South America, which always was the dream of the Cuban revolutionary dictator, or for propaganda purposes with surplus oil revenues, and for the sake of his glory and ego.
Carmen moreover wrote, "But in spite of his mismanagement, he was elected and re-elected and re-elected, mainly thanks to the massive voting registration of the poor; it can also be pointed out that, at the time, people didn't mention fraud as much as they do now." What about my past WAIS posts on the subject, or the last 20 years of international news, allegations, reports, complaints and accusations about fraud, manipulation of data, pre- and post-electoral "ventajismo" (probably there is not an English translation for this word, but in a general sense it is to take an unfair and, abusive advantage).
So, with the sole exception of his Chávez's first election as President, in 1999, all the other elections were full of irregularities and questionable results, if not outright cheating and fraud. In fact he won the Recall Referendum in 2004 amidst very serious fraud accusations. Very recently the election and reelection of Maduro were the results of obviously manipulated results. His first election was illegally proposed under fraudulent conditions which could be the subject of a long discussion, and the reelection was won by only a 1.5% margin and with only 30% of votes.
Nobody should be surprised by these facts. The government under Chávez, and continuing under Maduro, has always had absolutely control of the electoral institutions. There has never been a true separation of powers to ensure otherwise, despite the last parliamentary election in which the ruling party was conclusively defeated.
As for Carmen's references to "re-election after re-election" or the "massive votes of the poor," these statements are not accurate. It is true that Chávez won elections and referendums, many of them, of course under the conditions mentioned above, and unlikely with massive votes of the poor, except for massive support as a product of fraud and manipulation, or from people being bribed or emotionally blackmailed, because he was an expert at exploiting resentment and class hatred. Despite these facts, he was also defeated several times in important electoral processes.
It seems to me, in conclusion, that Carmen does not have enough available information for an accurate appraisal. Possibly at the time she did not have much interest in Venezuelan issues.
Regarding Zapatero and Chávez, Carmen commented, "I am led to believe that [Zapatero] would be neutral... as negotiator and observer." Here she again seems to be a little misinformed. Zapatero was part of a mediating commission imposed by UNASUR, a well-known institution founded and promoted by Chávez, together with Leonel Fernández (ex president of the Dominican Republic, a democratic socialist disciple of Juan Bosch, a well-known collaborator of the Cuban regime), and Martín Torrijos (son of Omar Torrijos, Panamá's former president, a democratic socialist and a well-known narco-politico). The bias in the commission is very clear.
The truth is that Mr Zapatero was never neutral in his role as a supposed mediator. He has been calling for "dialogue" among parties in Venezuela, which is wise if parties involved are respectful of each other's interests and positions, but impossible if the one with the power is constantly intransigent and irreconcilable with a powerless opposition. This "dialogue way" is incidentally the same position of most left-wing and socialist politicians in the region, including Pedro Sánchez, José Mujica, Kirchner, and so on. In fact Zapatero trumpets, in his words, the "talante democrático" (democratic spirit) of Maduro´s regime; he tries to impose a compulsory dialogue in conditions absolutely disadvantageous for the Venezuelan opposition and with no guarantees at all.
The Venezuelan crisis would unfortunately not be solved with dialogues and negotiations. It is a matter of survival for the regime. Its officials seek to maintain power at any cost, as being prosecuted by national and international laws is they price they will pay if they lose power. They will never make any concessions. It is their strategy to sustain permanent confrontations and to wear the opposition down. Mr Zapatero as a experienced politician should understand this clear fact, unless he is either stupid or a biased party.
JE comments: Are José Ignacio Soler and Carmen Negrín in disagreement? I don't see it: Carmen did mention the absolute corruption of the Chávez and Maduro regimes, which has left Venezuela in a "shambles" (Carmen's term). She also described the government's persecution of scientists, intellectuals, and the political opposition.
Let's circle back to Nacho Soler's final paragraph: "The Venezuelan crisis would unfortunately not be solved with dialogues and negotiations. It is a matter of survival for the regime. Its officials seek to maintain power at any cost, as being prosecuted by national and international laws is they price they will pay if they lose power."
These conditions don't bode well for a peaceful transition. The opposition is also faced with a difficult choice: do you grant immunity to the guilty ones to entice them to leave?
UN World Heritage List: A Frustrating Trip to Venezuela
(Carmen Negrin, France
09/14/18 3:27 AM)
In response to José Ignacio Soler (12 September), as John E pointed out, our disagreement is not total.
A final word concerning my mission to Los Roques, Venezuela. It took place days before Hugo Chávez was sent to La Orchila in April 2002.
During my visit, there were strikes in Caracas, the caceroleras [women banging pots in protest--JE] were very active in the streets. I don't remember if there was or not a curfew, but it's possible. For everything we did, in spite of the fact that everything had been obviously pre-arranged and confirmed, my team had to improvise new plans, B, C and sometimes D. At the time, La Orchila was a presidential resort and a military base. In fact we had an also improvised--and imposed--meeting with the military.
Another small technical clarification. A country can only propose, not impose, a site for the World Heritage List. It must describe in detail the characteristics of the site/property, expose its universal value and propose a sustainable management-plan, which the World Heritage Center (UNESCO) can help with, and they must engage in maintaining and protecting the site for the good of humanity. Once all these elements are put together, the World Heritage Committee composed of States Parties may accept or refuse the site's inclusion on the List. The delimitation of a site is done by the country concerned. In summary, if Venezuela did not want the waters of la Orchila to be included, they could have excluded its perimeter from the proposal, even though we might have questioned its logic.
Personally, in spite of the total chaos, I found the trip worthwhile. The site is unique. So unique that a few days before our arrival, Bush father had been there fishing on a yacht (although totally forbidden). It was heartbreaking to see the despair among most of our local partners and from a work point of view, it turned out to be very frustrating, in particular for the other countries who had high expectations and who didn't stand a chance of getting on the List on their own. But what was most striking was the total lack of coordination within the Venezuelan government. On the Venezuelan side, the mission involved high-level officials related to education, science, culture, foreign affairs and unexpectedly the military.
The project implied surveillance of the corals, the currents, the fish, the turtles, etc. Thus I can understand why the military would have refused the project, although requested by their own National Commission. But they must have or at least should have discussed it before our arrival. The argument brought up was the President's privacy, not security.
As for Zapatero and UNASUR, all I can say is: would you say the same thing of Michelle Bachelet?
If the influence doesn't come from Cuba, it will come from the USA. It has been like that for many decades. Unless it starts coming from China or Russia, or even Iran, who according to my info, is now present in Venezuela. Maybe Nacho can confirm this information.
JE comments: Yes, Nacho. What can you tell us about Chinese and Russian influence? (We wouldn't expect Putin to limit his meddling to the United States only, eh?) Even more interesting would be the Iran factor. What's the word in Caracas?