Arley Gill on Venezuela

Arley Gill’s quite balanced article on US foreign policy rightly asserted that the timing of Obama’s announcement that Venezuela under its present regime constitutes a threat to the security of the US could hardly be more clumsy, in view of currently improving relations between the US and Cuba. Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing? The US just doesn’t get it, does it?

In fact, however, Gill did not criticise the timing of the announcement but the announcement itself. He denies that Venezuela constitutes a threat to the United States. To begin with, everybody, including Maduro and Castro, know perfectly well that Obama was forced to use that diplomatic phrase in order to have the power to carry out sanctions against, not Venezuela, but some corrupt individuals in the Maduro government.

Denying these people a visa to enter the US is something that the US government, like all countries, has the right to do. (Here one might ask, why do these supposedly Marxist revolutionary ideologues want to go to the United States anyway, a country they despise and daily denounce.)

Gill is less balanced when it comes to Venezuela, because actually Venezuela does represent a security threat in that it is bringing into the Caribbean the influence of nations such as Russia, (which has just signed a pact of friendship with North Korea) and Iran, not to mention the establishment of Hezbollah in Venezuela.

Russia has recently announced that it will be patrolling the Caribbean with its warships. Then there is the shipment of uranium from Venezuela to Iran, on state-owned Conviasa airline planes. To be truthful, Venezuela represents even more of a threat to the stability of South American countries. All of this makes a mockery of Maduro’s claim that the region should be a zone of peace!

Just exactly what Bishop said of the Caribbean as he received shipment after shipment of rocket launchers and other arms from the Soviet bloc, all unloaded on St George’s pier after the electricity had been turned off. (This took place before Gill’s time.)

Gill describes the Maduro government as “duly elected”. Has he already forgotten that at the last election the margin was so narrow (about 1 percent) between the opposition and the ruling party that the opposition leader demanded a recount, to which Maduro agreed, as he certainly should, yet three days later he changed his mind?

Tell me something Arley, does this suggest to you that Maduro was confident of his victory or does it suggest that he had something to hide? Indeed the list of recorded “irregularities” during that election was very long.

And elections in Venezuela can hardly be called free and fair. Election regulations are widely flouted by the government, and who is to stop them? For example, it is prohibited to display election posters and slogans on public buildings, yet the country’s airports were plastered with them. Could the opposition do the same? You must be joking! So in this and many, many other ways, intimidation, etc, the damage is done long before the international observers arrive for the election itself.
Don’t forget that the opposition is further disadvantaged by having its leaders locked up on trumped up charges backed by evidence in some cases proven to be false. So what encouragement is there for anyone to become an opposition leader if he/she knows it means being arrested and jailed? Apart from Lopez and Ledesma, in jail, and Machado under house arrest, many more members of the opposition have been jailed, and one gentleman recently died in captivity under appalling conditions. So forget “duly elected”.

In view of all the above, can we agree with Gill’s vacuous statement that the US wants to change a regime simply because they disagree with the US? I have no doubt that the US would welcome a change to a more sensible, practical, less brutal and less hostile regime, and so would at least half of Venezuelans, if not more, given Maduro’s currently very low popularity rating.

Gregory Thomas

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