Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Venezuela "emergency"

"Venezuela is Latin America's biggest exporter of crude oil and has the world's largest petroleum reserves." - Brian Ellsworth and Andrew Cawthorne, Venezuela death toll rises to 13 as protests flare Reuters 02/24/2014

I know I shouldn't be trolling around sites like Twitter's #ObamaYankeeGoHome hashtag. That's what critics of Obama's state of emergency about Venezuela are using. But they do have some graphics I haven't seen before, like this no-eagle poster:

I hope no Republicans find out I've looked at a website where foreigners are criticizing American foreign policy. Because they would surely think that was disgusting behavior on my part!

One tiresome thing about the international politics of human rights is that they instantly turn into a pissing contest of, "You're the human rights violator!" "No, you are!!" But the good thing about that is that each other's dirty laundry gets done in public, because Both Sides always *are* violating human rights some way or the other. I saw someone comment once that the polemics between the Southern slaveowners and Northern critics of slavery over whose system was the better one constituted one of the most thorough airings of the grim side of 19th century capitalism ever made. Or something to that effect.

But this Venezuela state-of-emergency thing is a reminder than even though our star pundits are usually too busy obsessing over burning issues like Hillary's e-mails to look into what kind of dubious business the US may be up to in places like Ukraine and Venezuela, people in other countries do sometimes know what the big American news stories are. For instance, this comment from David Torres in a Spanish blog (Venezuela non grata Punto de Fisión 10.03.2015):

Líbreme Marx (me refiero a Groucho) de pensar que el régimen de Nicolás Maduro es un ejemplo perfecto de democracia, pero la declaración obamita suena fea en un país presidido por un negro donde cada semana la policía mata a un negro indefenso a balazos y a los asesinos con placa los sacan a hombros del juzgado.

[I'll leave it to Marx (I'm referring to Groucho) to think of Nicolás Maduro's regime as a perfect example of democracy. But Obama's declaration [against Venezuela] sounds ugly in a country presided over by a black President where every week the police shoot to death an unarmed black man and the killers with badges are exempted from prosecution.]
Amazingly enough, that sounds like a bad thing to people in other places in the world. And here I thought everyone wants to be just like America!

But, but ... Venezuela has a lot of crime, too!! Which they certainly do. One of the dubious benefits of being a petrostate, in their case.

Since Obama and Hillary were pretty much happy with the coup in Honduras (2009) and the more-or-less coup in Paraguay (2012), I doubt whether the Obama Administration cares much about whether Venezuela is arresting too many far-right activists who make no bones about the fact that they are trying to overthrow the Venezuelan government by non-constitutional means.

Nobody in the US much noticed those coups, but every government and political party in Latin America did. They also noticed that Maduro very narrowly won a competitive election for President against Henrique Capriles in 2013. And that Capriles opposes the overthrow-Maduro-right-now strategy of the far right. This is about oil, which for a petrostate like Venezuela is pretty much involved in all of politics. And also, the militant Miami Cubans who have been so successful in overthrowing the Cuban government all these years now seem to have adopted Venezuela as their next target for their special attentions.

And, you know, it doesn't excuse misdeeds by the Venezuelan government. But come on, Venezuela pretty much *does* look like "a perfect example of democracy" and the rule of law compared to our great petrostate friend Saudi Arabia. Also, none of the 9/11 hijackers were from Venezuela. I'm just sayin'.

BBC Mundo has a rundown on the latest "emergency" twist in US-Venezuela relations, Qué significa que EE.UU. considere a Venezuela "una amenaza para la seguridad nacional" 10.03.2015. One of the points they make is that declaring a formal "state of emergency" gives the US President power to impose sanctions on a country he otherwise wouldn't have. It allows the President to act without the approval of Congress. The piece notes that the US has recently used this legal device with "países como Ucrania, Sudán del Sur, República Centroafricana, Yemen, Libia o Somalia."

It's a pretty hostile diplomatic move, in other words.

Nut as Alexandra Ulmer points out for Reuters, being able to take a patriotic stance as the defender of the nation against American subversion may well turn out to be political luck for Maduro and his government after the negative repercussions of the old price drop. (Sanciones de EEUU podrían ser la bendición que buscaba venezolano Maduro/U.S. sanctions may be godsend for struggling Venezuelan leader 10.03.2015)

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