Venezuela's UN strategy: ABB

Over the past few days, Venezuelan analysts have commented over the uneven horse race taking place at the United Nations, where Venezuela and Guatemala are competing to take a seat as one of the ten non—permanent members of the UN Security Council, next to permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. Round after round, Guatemala has obtained around thirty more votes than Venezuela, leading many experts to conclude that the Chavez government is embarrassing itself by refusing to withdraw.

Normally, countries withdraw when they're behind, said Venezuela's former UN ambassador, Milos Alcalay, who added that the Venezuelan mission violated diplomatic norms leading up to the vote by distributing chocolates and plastering posters around the UN.  

"Normally, the mission sends out a letter reminding the member country   that the vote is on such and such a date and that's it."

The Venezuelan private media has characterized the consistent defeat  as a major setback for Venezuela, which has served four times on the  Security Council. Opposition candidate Manuel Rosales said ""the world has given Hugo Chavez a democratic whipping," saying that the defeat wasn't against Venezuela, but "against the government of Hugo  Chavez."

Yet, is it really a defeat for Chavez? Has the Venezuelan government  decided to remain because it believes it will wear down the 192—member General Assembly, eventually seizing the required 2/3 majority  approval? Is Venezuela trying to win a seat on the Security Council?

I don't think so.
 
What is taking place at the United Nations has little to do with Venezuela's desire to sit on the Security Council. Rather, it is a  fight between the Bush government and the Chavez government, and the incidental victim in it all is Guatemala, which has never served on  the Council. The key issue is not that the Chavez government has failed to gather the needed votes, but that it has blocked US—backed Guatemala from obtaining the seat. If neither country obtains the  vote, Chavez wins, because the US candidate fails.
 
That's why the mood at the Venezuelan mission has remained cheerful round after round, defeat after defeat.

"This battle will prepare us for another battle within the   international community," Venezuelan diplomat Roy Chaderton told  Venezuelan state television Sunday. Venezuela's goal is to continue fighting the US on the international arena, as Chavez's popularity continues to diminish at home ahead of December's presidential  elections.

Aware of the conundrum it is wedged in, Guatemala is trying to separate itself from the US. One Monday, Guatemalan Foreign Minister  Gert Rosenthal "said his nation was an 'independent voice' that would  vote according to its own policies", according to the Washington Post. Whether Venezuela loses the seat or not, the important objective is that Guatemala never reach a seat on the Security Council. This will allow Chavez to show the world that his ABB (Anyone But Bush) strategy works. This is Chavez at his best, willing to trample on any country to gain a few points against the US government.

Therefore, the world — and especially the opposition — shouldn't  celebrate that Venezuela is losing at the United Nations. In many  ways, it is winning, whether it gains a seat or not.
 
Alex Beech    10 21 06

Over the past few days, Venezuelan analysts have commented over the uneven horse race taking place at the United Nations, where Venezuela and Guatemala are competing to take a seat as one of the ten non—permanent members of the UN Security Council, next to permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. Round after round, Guatemala has obtained around thirty more votes than Venezuela, leading many experts to conclude that the Chavez government is embarrassing itself by refusing to withdraw.

Normally, countries withdraw when they're behind, said Venezuela's former UN ambassador, Milos Alcalay, who added that the Venezuelan mission violated diplomatic norms leading up to the vote by distributing chocolates and plastering posters around the UN.  

"Normally, the mission sends out a letter reminding the member country   that the vote is on such and such a date and that's it."

The Venezuelan private media has characterized the consistent defeat  as a major setback for Venezuela, which has served four times on the  Security Council. Opposition candidate Manuel Rosales said ""the world has given Hugo Chavez a democratic whipping," saying that the defeat wasn't against Venezuela, but "against the government of Hugo  Chavez."

Yet, is it really a defeat for Chavez? Has the Venezuelan government  decided to remain because it believes it will wear down the 192—member General Assembly, eventually seizing the required 2/3 majority  approval? Is Venezuela trying to win a seat on the Security Council?

I don't think so.
 
What is taking place at the United Nations has little to do with Venezuela's desire to sit on the Security Council. Rather, it is a  fight between the Bush government and the Chavez government, and the incidental victim in it all is Guatemala, which has never served on  the Council. The key issue is not that the Chavez government has failed to gather the needed votes, but that it has blocked US—backed Guatemala from obtaining the seat. If neither country obtains the  vote, Chavez wins, because the US candidate fails.
 
That's why the mood at the Venezuelan mission has remained cheerful round after round, defeat after defeat.

"This battle will prepare us for another battle within the   international community," Venezuelan diplomat Roy Chaderton told  Venezuelan state television Sunday. Venezuela's goal is to continue fighting the US on the international arena, as Chavez's popularity continues to diminish at home ahead of December's presidential  elections.

Aware of the conundrum it is wedged in, Guatemala is trying to separate itself from the US. One Monday, Guatemalan Foreign Minister  Gert Rosenthal "said his nation was an 'independent voice' that would  vote according to its own policies", according to the Washington Post. Whether Venezuela loses the seat or not, the important objective is that Guatemala never reach a seat on the Security Council. This will allow Chavez to show the world that his ABB (Anyone But Bush) strategy works. This is Chavez at his best, willing to trample on any country to gain a few points against the US government.

Therefore, the world — and especially the opposition — shouldn't  celebrate that Venezuela is losing at the United Nations. In many  ways, it is winning, whether it gains a seat or not.
 
Alex Beech    10 21 06