With talks on and military force still out, Venezuela's democrats are turning on each other

Since the failure of the military uprising at the end of April, Venezuela's Democrats seem to have run out of moral ammo.  Sure, another big protest...but cripes, they've done these things for decades, and all they get for them is Chavista thugs shooting into the crowds — or as things have advanced since, driving armored military vehicles over them.  President Trump isn't in for a U.S. military intervention, which may be a wise move from the U.S.'s perspective, but it's hard news for the Venezuelans.  Acting president Juan Guaidó has since moved from safe house to safe house in a bid to avoid the Maduro dictatorship's goons...  Bottom line: It's bleak out there, and the democrats are running out of ideas.  And now they're starting to turn on each other.

What Guaidó's moved to since is talks with the Maduro dictatorship, in Norway.  You know, mediated talks, or dialogue (they're arguing about what this is, actually), the kind of talks that in the past have resulted in the Northern Ireland peace accord of two decades ago, or the agreement between Colombia and its FARC narco-terrorists more recently, a pact that was bulled through despite the Colombian voters' rejection of the whole idea in a 2016 referendum.

That same distaste the Colombians showed is now going on among Venezuela's democrats, who are showing scary signs of splitting apart over it.

I saw this tweet by Venezuela's respected senior statesman, and my head turned:

 

 

Rough translation from Microsoft with my clarifications in brackets:

Guaidó warns against "accomplices of the dictatorship". Some [of those so-called accomplices] would be Luis Almagro, Maria Corina Machado, Antonio Ledezma, Julio Borges and myself for expressing different opinions than yours[his].

This is a pretty hard criticism, given that people such as himself and Machado, and most of the others, are so highly regarded as longtime democratic opponents of the dictatorship — and Arria in particular, a former United Nations Security Council president, is exactly the kind of guy you'd expect to be all in for talks in a place like Norway, and he's not.

And he's not the only one — take a look at some of the fiery opposition expressed by Venezuela's democrats at the PanAm Post.

To get a whiff of how bad these talks are, take a look at how the Maduro regime is going into them from the Norwegian press:

"This is a dialogue between the Revolutionary Government, the Revolutionary Armed Forces, and the extremist opposition... which is trying to topple the government at the behest of US interests," Maduro said.

As Robert Conquest has observed, everyone's a conservative about things he knows best...

The Venezuelan leaders warning Guaidó that this won't work are older, of course, and have more political experience than Guaidó, who is just 35.  They've been through four rounds of failed talks with the regime over the years already and know how those go.  Guaidó apparently thinks his will end differently and Maduro and his narco-drug lord cabinet and military leadership will be persuaded to leave office if they can just be talked to.

It's also not that surprising.  Guaidó, as it happens, is from a Chavista rancho (slum) background.  He's been identified as a socialist or center-left leaning leader in some reports.  And he's very young — with probably some kind of leftist education even if not rank Chavista propaganda.  However, he's not an idiot, and he knows he's up against a Marxist narco-dictatorship whose money comes from illegal drug shipments.  Maybe more disturbingly, he's doing this just to stay alive.  Carlos Alberto Montaner notes that he's under pressure from Europe to engage in these talks as a condition for their continued recognition of his government, so the whole thing may be a matter of personal survival.  But to think the Venezuela crisis at this point may end in a Velvet Revolution or a negotiated settlement defies reason.

And not only is Guaidó ignoring the other Venezuelans about the Norway thing and forging ahead; he's actually accusing people such as Arria of being "with the dictator."

Suffice to say, this is not going to end well.

Instead of criticizing, he ought to be doing something far tougher and scarier at this point — such as raising money for an army to take the Maduroites out.  That would be a unifier.  The Norway talks are a divider.  There are some 4,000 Venezuelan military defectors he can work with, and reports suggest they are motivated.  There's also Venezuela's retired military, many of whom quit to get away from the Cubans, and some have declared similar motivation.  I don't know if Guaidó's scoped out any of Venezuela's angry neighbors for the cash — it's possible he has and been turned down — but he needs to keep asking because his moral and persuasion ammo has run out. A Gandhian non-violent resistence revolution or an Eastern European-style Velvet Revolution is not going to happen. Not admitting that is a cowardice of sorts. What's remains now is finding a way to oppose Maduro in the language of force that Maduro can understand and if it means anything, it may take sacrifice.

In other words, it's Bolivar time, and Guaidó's remaining option is not talks, and not fighting with his fellow democrats, but doing what Simon Bolivar did: Raise an army. Yes, it's distasteful, and yes, it's going to cost blood and treasure, but that is about all that is left. Freedom isn't free. If you have a right to liberty, then there are times when you are going to have to fight for it. The pope and respectable society will criticize, but they're ignoring the violence and force already coming from the other side. The 20th century up until now has been loaded with non-violent resistance movements for enacting change. In that regard, Guaidó is fighting the last war. But it's not the war he's now got in front of him.  

History's great leaders always recognize the moment when it comes, a time for war, a time for peace, and right now, Guaidó appears to be missing it. With the opposition splitting apart and the useless talks moving forward, this looks like a set-up for something pretty tragic. One can only hope now that Guaidó keeps the maneuver short in order to correct course.

 

 

Image credit: Leo Alvarez via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Since the failure of the military uprising at the end of April, Venezuela's Democrats seem to have run out of moral ammo.  Sure, another big protest...but cripes, they've done these things for decades, and all they get for them is Chavista thugs shooting into the crowds — or as things have advanced since, driving armored military vehicles over them.  President Trump isn't in for a U.S. military intervention, which may be a wise move from the U.S.'s perspective, but it's hard news for the Venezuelans.  Acting president Juan Guaidó has since moved from safe house to safe house in a bid to avoid the Maduro dictatorship's goons...  Bottom line: It's bleak out there, and the democrats are running out of ideas.  And now they're starting to turn on each other.

What Guaidó's moved to since is talks with the Maduro dictatorship, in Norway.  You know, mediated talks, or dialogue (they're arguing about what this is, actually), the kind of talks that in the past have resulted in the Northern Ireland peace accord of two decades ago, or the agreement between Colombia and its FARC narco-terrorists more recently, a pact that was bulled through despite the Colombian voters' rejection of the whole idea in a 2016 referendum.

That same distaste the Colombians showed is now going on among Venezuela's democrats, who are showing scary signs of splitting apart over it.

I saw this tweet by Venezuela's respected senior statesman, and my head turned:

 

 

Rough translation from Microsoft with my clarifications in brackets:

Guaidó warns against "accomplices of the dictatorship". Some [of those so-called accomplices] would be Luis Almagro, Maria Corina Machado, Antonio Ledezma, Julio Borges and myself for expressing different opinions than yours[his].

This is a pretty hard criticism, given that people such as himself and Machado, and most of the others, are so highly regarded as longtime democratic opponents of the dictatorship — and Arria in particular, a former United Nations Security Council president, is exactly the kind of guy you'd expect to be all in for talks in a place like Norway, and he's not.

And he's not the only one — take a look at some of the fiery opposition expressed by Venezuela's democrats at the PanAm Post.

To get a whiff of how bad these talks are, take a look at how the Maduro regime is going into them from the Norwegian press:

"This is a dialogue between the Revolutionary Government, the Revolutionary Armed Forces, and the extremist opposition... which is trying to topple the government at the behest of US interests," Maduro said.

As Robert Conquest has observed, everyone's a conservative about things he knows best...

The Venezuelan leaders warning Guaidó that this won't work are older, of course, and have more political experience than Guaidó, who is just 35.  They've been through four rounds of failed talks with the regime over the years already and know how those go.  Guaidó apparently thinks his will end differently and Maduro and his narco-drug lord cabinet and military leadership will be persuaded to leave office if they can just be talked to.

It's also not that surprising.  Guaidó, as it happens, is from a Chavista rancho (slum) background.  He's been identified as a socialist or center-left leaning leader in some reports.  And he's very young — with probably some kind of leftist education even if not rank Chavista propaganda.  However, he's not an idiot, and he knows he's up against a Marxist narco-dictatorship whose money comes from illegal drug shipments.  Maybe more disturbingly, he's doing this just to stay alive.  Carlos Alberto Montaner notes that he's under pressure from Europe to engage in these talks as a condition for their continued recognition of his government, so the whole thing may be a matter of personal survival.  But to think the Venezuela crisis at this point may end in a Velvet Revolution or a negotiated settlement defies reason.

And not only is Guaidó ignoring the other Venezuelans about the Norway thing and forging ahead; he's actually accusing people such as Arria of being "with the dictator."

Suffice to say, this is not going to end well.

Instead of criticizing, he ought to be doing something far tougher and scarier at this point — such as raising money for an army to take the Maduroites out.  That would be a unifier.  The Norway talks are a divider.  There are some 4,000 Venezuelan military defectors he can work with, and reports suggest they are motivated.  There's also Venezuela's retired military, many of whom quit to get away from the Cubans, and some have declared similar motivation.  I don't know if Guaidó's scoped out any of Venezuela's angry neighbors for the cash — it's possible he has and been turned down — but he needs to keep asking because his moral and persuasion ammo has run out. A Gandhian non-violent resistence revolution or an Eastern European-style Velvet Revolution is not going to happen. Not admitting that is a cowardice of sorts. What's remains now is finding a way to oppose Maduro in the language of force that Maduro can understand and if it means anything, it may take sacrifice.

In other words, it's Bolivar time, and Guaidó's remaining option is not talks, and not fighting with his fellow democrats, but doing what Simon Bolivar did: Raise an army. Yes, it's distasteful, and yes, it's going to cost blood and treasure, but that is about all that is left. Freedom isn't free. If you have a right to liberty, then there are times when you are going to have to fight for it. The pope and respectable society will criticize, but they're ignoring the violence and force already coming from the other side. The 20th century up until now has been loaded with non-violent resistance movements for enacting change. In that regard, Guaidó is fighting the last war. But it's not the war he's now got in front of him.  

History's great leaders always recognize the moment when it comes, a time for war, a time for peace, and right now, Guaidó appears to be missing it. With the opposition splitting apart and the useless talks moving forward, this looks like a set-up for something pretty tragic. One can only hope now that Guaidó keeps the maneuver short in order to correct course.

 

 

Image credit: Leo Alvarez via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.