On Dialogue and the Rules of Geopolitics in Latin America

The Venezuelan government's obstinate clinging to a Samson strategy fails to realize that this will not protect the sole interest its leaders are defending: impunity.

It would do extreme good for the parties at odds in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America to remember that their hold to geography is at odds with geopolitics and the current historical stage of our civilization. Indeed. As the cognoscenti define the concept, geopolitics is “the interplay of natural resources, strategic dominance and geographic space on the one hand, and the various state and non-state actors pursuing individual as well as collective interests on the other”.

First among any other nationals in the region that should swiftly switch from 19th century sovereignty delusions to the reality of geopolitics are the Venezuelans from both sides of the ideological divide.

The Venezuelan government’s obstinate clinging to a Samson strategy fails to realize that this will not protect the sole interest its leaders are defending: impunity.

The Venezuela opposition, for its part, by concentrating its moves — in a game that they deem to be chess but that really is more like bocce — does not realize that the all-encompassing meltdown surrounding them moves several decades forward the likelihood that they will be government.

To be sure, as the geographic space occupied by Venezuela increasingly becomes a raving volcano, various state and non-state actors will begin to collide in pursuance of an international intervention anchored in the sole group that could guarantee governance whatever its content or operational structure.

And as of today it does not seem likely that one of the 4,000 plus generals recorded in Bloomberg View are being considered by the civil society in Venezuela or the international community to run the country.

But under conditions of a an international humanitarian crisis severely affecting Colombia, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, the Netherlands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are Dutch territories and are just off Venezuela’s shore) and to a lesser extent Guyana, an international intervention with blue berets could trigger the emergence of a lower rank military government up and until people stop looting and killing each other and return to whatever is left from their homes.

Recent history is a testament to this unhappy ending. Remember Kosovo, Rwanda-Burundi and Sudan.

Ideally the international community would chose to turn the clock back and reopen the United Nations Trusteeship Council to place under its control all failed states. But given that this no longer is an option, the international community will simply anchor its prophylactic measures on a local group that can guarantee governance.

And while we do not know yet who this group will be, it does not look like the government or opposition leadership could be part of it.

The silver bullet to prevent this ending would, of course, be dialogue and negotiation.

And several proposals have been flying around the Venezuelan crisis — the most serious and substantive of them being the Vatican backed proposal rejected by President Maduro.

Thereafter two more are on the table: One sponsored by a presidential trio (former Presidents Rodriguez-Zapatero; Fernandez and Torrijos) and that of the Russian Foreign Ministry backed by the head of the orthodox Church and perhaps the Vatican’s back door to reenter the stage and prevent the detonation of the fourth historic chaos in Venezuela.

Of these two, the Russian would seem to be most interesting. At least from the intellectual viewpoint.

Indeed, for someone who could master geopolitics, the Russian proposal could be the guiding ribbon to exit the labyrinth.

Russia is far removed from Latin America — its only interest being to have a pawn to exchange with the U.S. in the global balance of power play. Thus the Russians will not hold any interest in being part of the new Venezuela.

Second, the Vatican initiative could be revisited.

Third, Gazprom could be a good balance to Chinese interests in energy. The drawback could of course be that Russia acts as proxy for Cuba. But this risk has already been discounted by the Venezuelans who have sat at a negotiating table with three heads of state close to that country and perhaps as unfamiliar with geopolitics as themselves.

Published by the Latin American Herald Tribune on June 1st, 2016