Venezuela’s Two Casualties — Freedom & Multilateralism

Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel on the historical reasons for the continuing tragedy of Venezuela.

Developments in Venezuela seem to continue to produce more casualties than hope.

For too long a time the people of Venezuela have seen their freedom and wellbeing drift away like sand in a river bank. Indeed wellbeing has experienced such deterioration that Venezuela’s current situation brings ghastly memories of the sufferings of the Ibo nation during the civil war in Nigeria.

And in spite of unequivocal demonstrations from the civic society of its desires to promote a regime change by peaceful means, the truth of the matter is that the Venezuelan regime is today stronger and in a greater disposition to uproot any democratic trace than it was at the beginning of this year.

This sudden strengthening of the most heinous regime ever to set foot in Latin America can only be understood in terms of the structure of power in Venezuela.

The countries in Latin America were created by Spain as rent extracting platforms destined to support the Crown in its quest for codification of its power status in Europe. Political institutions were designed to control the population so as to secure rent extraction.

The means of control were the possession of minerals and any other asset lying underground.

Political participation and freedom are anathema to rent extraction, an activity designed to flourish under strict control and with few operators.

Independence did little to change this political structure. It merely opened the doors to rent extraction to leaders of armed bands that had enough weapon power to successfully claim a piece of the action.

And the region continued its development adding to these institutional pillars windows, doors and decorations taken from the American Revolution or the French Illustration.

With time those countries lacking rich deposits of minerals and jewels that were the crown assets had to rely on individual initiative to develop. Such countries could create more freedom seeking institutions.

Sadly, the list is rather short in this group, but includes Costa Rica, Uruguay and most recently Chile.

Other countries which derive an inordinate amount of their wellbeing from mineral extraction or fossil fuel exploitation preserved the colonial institutional network. These became the least free, the most corporativist and the best destination for corrupt dealing.

The list here is rather extensive with Venezuela, Mexico and Brasil leading the charge.

Venezuela is perhaps the most corporativist of all given the strategic nature of oil for the 20th century power structures and the determinant role of oil in GDP generation.

This reality holds the secret to understanding its current predicament.

Oil makes factions of the economic elites directly or indirectly part of the power structure. It therefore is impossible to succeed in any business without the support or at least the neutrality of the regime.

Opposition leaders in Venezuela do not derive their income from Mars but from economic activities that are either tolerated or even supported by the regime. For them to call an all-out war means to agree to a suicide.

The regime knows this and lets the dice roll suspending the game only when the opposition is overruled by civic society. Brutal repression sets in until civic society is defeated and the government resumes the game.

From the international perspective, the corporativist drama being played in Venezuela destroys any possibility for multilateral action.

For how can the international community attempt to set up a humanitarian channel in Venezuela if the opposition is part of a government that needs to be overruled.

How can democratic societies in Europe or Asia claim that the institutions created by the Venezuelan regime are freedom traps if the opposition pays tribute to those institutions.

Multilateral paralysis sets in.

This explains the rather tepid statement of the recently held meeting of the Lima group in Toronto, Canada that calls on the U.N. to take the lead in fighting the regime in Venezuela.

This, of course is the wrong road to multilateral action given complex relationship between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.

Multilateralism at this stage can only succeed through the display of international penal law.

This has two avenues. One is the Treaty of Rome while the other is the Palermo Convention.

Both depend for their deployment of the judiciary not the executive power anywhere. And perhaps this could be the only breathing device left to multilateralism given that to the designs of traditional diplomacy are dead and dormant in Venezuela.

Published by LAHT.com on Monday October 30th, 3017

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