Topic: Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela (Read 47292 times)
Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #30 on: 2018-06-03 12:26:09 »
Well, I figure a quick overview of the 'speak' from the North American media is warranted as a matter of record; "Though Talk is Cheap".
The Perils of a Putsch in Venezuela
Author: Brian Fonseca
Date: May 4th, 2018
Encouraging a coup in Caracas will give Russia and China a foothold in the United States’ backyard.
In recent months, high-ranking U.S. officials have been signaling to Venezuelan military leaders that they have Washington’s blessing to take the reins in Caracas. In a February speech ahead of his trip to Latin America, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “In the history of Venezuela and South American countries, it is often times that the military is the agent of change when things are so bad and the leadership can no longer serve the people.”
Others have been blunter. Just a few days after Tillerson’s remarks, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) took to Twitter to say that the world “would support the Armed Forces in #Venezuela if they decide to protect the people & restore democracy by removing a dictator.” And earlier this week, in a speech at Florida International University, Juan Cruz, U.S. President Donald Trump’s special assistant and senior director for western hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council, urged “the military to respect the oath they took to perform their functions.”
Giving the green light for a military coup is not only bad for America’s image; it is also a threat to U.S. strategic interests. That’s because encouraging a putsch in Venezuela could backfire and end up increasing Russian and Chinese influence in the Western Hemisphere.
The U.S. officials praising the prospect of a military takeover seem to disregard the fact that U.S.-Venezuelan military relations are virtually nonexistent today. U.S. defense contacts with Venezuela declined sharply in the years following the rise of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 1999. Meanwhile, the Russians, Chinese, and Cubans have replaced the United States as the primary sources of financial, technical, and material support to the Venezuelan military. The mere threat of a coup in Venezuela could be enough to rally the military around hard-liners and compel U.S. rivals to consider their preferred alternatives to the Maduro regime as collapse becomes imminent. Rivals with economic, political, and geostrategic interests in Venezuela, such as Russia and China, are far better positioned than the United States to influence the Venezuelan military during any transition.
Moscow and Beijing will be especially interested in cultivating ties with the top brass in Caracas if they sense that offering economic and political support to a new Venezuelan leadership could change the mineral-rich country’s trajectory from an economic basket case to an economically and politically stable authoritarian regime. In such a situation, Russia, China, and Cuba — in some formal or informal configuration — could abandon the flailing and ineffective leadership of President Nicolás Maduro and back a military regime in uncomfortably close geographic proximity to the United States.
The current situation in Venezuela is untenable. Oil production is declining, public unrest is spreading, inflation is up nearly 13,000 percentage points in the last two months, and military and civilian elites are becoming increasingly dissatisfied. Moreover, other countries in Latin America that stood by Chavez in the past are now denouncing Maduro. Pressure for regime change is growing.
For now, the most viable path to change involves the military in some way. However, it would take years for the United States to rebuild substantive relations with the Venezuelan armed forces after almost two decades of estrangement. Making matters worse, Washington may not be prepared to provide the economic and security assistance or the political backing in international forums like the United Nations and the Organization of American States that would be needed to sustain a new military regime. Supporting such a regime would also create tensions between the United States and its allies in the Western Hemisphere and around the world, while legitimizing authoritarian political models at a time when China and Russia are already challenging the efficacy of democracy.
Russia, China, and Cuba all currently have extensive and friendly relations with the Venezuelan military.
Indeed, Russian, Chinese, and Cuban engagement with the Venezuelan armed forces has increased exponentially over the last decade — Venezuelan personnel have been attending Russian and Chinese military schools for years, and Venezuela is the top buyer in Latin America for Russian and Chinese military equipment. As for the Cubans, their security forces started providing technical assistance on the ground to the Venezuelan military shortly after the last — arguably U.S.-inspired — coup attempt in 2002.
In the event of a coup, these existing ties mean that the priorities of Moscow, Beijing, and Havana will likely prevail over Washington’s in managing a military transition. Moscow has experience in this regard. Russia and the Soviet Union before it supported the rise and maintenance of authoritarian regimes in Latin America — including Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Fidel Castro in Cuba, and military dictators such as Juan Velasco Alvarado in Peru.
The situation in Venezuela could also be an opportunity for Russia and China to expand their emerging strategic partnership with nations in the Western Hemisphere. Both countries are increasingly using their military ties to counter U.S. influence around the world. Russian and Chinese defense officials even discussed forging a strategic partnership in a series of recent meetings. For now, their relations have been limited to bilateral meetings of key leaders and joint military exercises. Still, that should be enough to give U.S. policymakers pause.
A coup in Venezuela would be a chance for China and Russia to collaborate on an issue far away from their own spheres of influence. If successful, it would give them greater access to Venezuelan mineral resources as well as a military footprint in Latin America. China would likely be a silent underwriter, as it has been hesitant to openly challenge the United States in Latin America so far. Still, Beijing could provide much-needed political and economic support. Russia might flex its muscles more visibly. Both would likely avoid sending troops to support a military regime in Venezuela. However, there could be an increase in arms and equipment transfers, technical training, and Russian security contractors on the ground in Venezuela, much like what Russia has done in Syria.
At the moment, there is no indication that Russia, China, or Cuba, together or independently, are calling for a coup in Venezuela — but the United States is. U.S. policymakers should think twice before ceding space in the region to Washington’s geopolitical rivals.
A coup would not only pose a strategic threat; it would also harm U.S. economic interests. If a military regime propped up by Russia or China emerges in Venezuela, then it’s likely that the last remaining U.S. oil companies operating in Venezuela, namely Chevron and Halliburton, would be forced out and replaced by Russian and Chinese firms. Moscow and Beijing would also gain greater influence over other Latin American countries. Ultimately, it could lead to the emergence of authoritarian regimes across Latin America backed by Russia and China, which would increase tensions with the United States while cementing the influence of U.S. rivals in the region. In a worst-case scenario — the United States and its rivals could find themselves at war in the Western Hemisphere.
Policymakers praising the virtues of military coups should remember the many historical examples of armed intervention in Latin America that have come back to haunt U.S. leaders — Guatemala in 1954, Chile in 1973, Argentina in 1976. And they should consider the longer-term implications of a rival-backed regime across the Caribbean before encouraging a Venezuelan military intervention.
Venezuelan Soldiers Desert in Droves With Presidential Election Ahead
Author: Fabiola Zerpa and Noris Soto
Date: May 7th, 2018
Military officers are joining the exodus of Venezuelans to Colombia and Brazil, fleeing barracks and forcing President Nicolas Maduro’s government to call upon retirees and militia to fill the void.
High desertion rates at bases in Caracas and the countryside are complicating security plans for the presidential election in 13 days, which by law require military custody of electoral materials and machinery at voting centers.
“The number is unknown because it used to be published in the Official Gazette. Now, it is not,” said Rocio San Miguel, director of Control Ciudadano, a military watchdog group in Caracas. She said soldiers are fleeing for the same reason citizens are: “Wages are low, the quality of food and clothing isn’t good.”
Last week, officers who rank as high as general were called in and quartered for several days at their units. Retired officials and militia members were also contacted by their superiors, according to one retired officer who asked not to be named for fear of angering the regime. Government officials are training these fill-in personnel for the election, said a second retired officer.
The shortage of troops comes as hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans flee a societal collapse, crowding cities and makeshift camps throughout the region in the largest mass emigration in modern Latin American history. Hyperinflation has made the currency virtually worthless, and malnutrition is endemic. Almost 2 million Venezuelans are living outside the country.
As the once-prosperous nation fell apart, Maduro consolidated power by creating an all-powerful assembly to bypass the national legislature. The regime jailed and banned opponents and launched a wave of arrests before the May 20 vote. The U.S. and regional organizations have refused to recognize the balloting as legitimate, and the main opposition coalition has promised a boycott in the face of what it says will be a rigged contest.
Venezuelan elections are overseen by its military, the strongest force in the country and one increasingly intertwined with Maduro’s regime. The rush to fill out units is required by the so-called Plan Republica, the security deployment of the Defense Ministry that begins on the eve of election day and lasts until the day after. By law, the armed forces are guarantors of peace and security, guarding ballots and voting machines at all 14,000-odd voting sites. They transport these materials and machinery to each voting center, often a school, and guard it.
But the level of desertion from the Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana has grown exponentially in the last year, especially among troops at lower ranks. At least 10,000 soldiers have asked to retire, Control Ciudadano’s San Miguel said in March.
“Since 2015 there has been an increase in military detainees accused of treason, desertion and other crimes,” she said. “Our estimate is that there are 300 people who are imprisoned, mostly troops. A few are senior officers, others are civilians linked to the military.”
A spokesman for the armed forces didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on the desertions.
High-ranking members of the military are barred from much contact with the lower ranks . Lines of young military men asking for retirement are long, said the first retired officer. The officer tried to chat with one, but officers running the barracks forbade them from talking to each other. The retiree said top officers fear too much conversation will permit officers and enlisted solders to form alliances for a coup.
“Those who ask to retire are put into arrest for a week at the military counterintelligence headquarters,” said Gonzalo Himiob, director of Foro Penal, a human-rights group. “That’s how worried the government is.”
He said most leave the country after they are released. Himiob said that so many have tried to resign in recent days that the regime has no room to jail them, and many are allowed to quit.
In what the opposition calls a 'coup,' Venezuela's high court seizes power from National Assembly
Source: Los Angeles Times
Author: Kate Linthicum and Mery Mogollon
Date: Mar 30th, 2017
Venezuela slid further into political chaos after supreme court magistrates aligned with socialist President Nicolas Maduro moved to seize power from the congress in what international observers and the country’s opposition leaders called a “coup d’état.”
The magistrates, who have overturned nearly every piece of legislation passed by the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared late Wednesday night that the assembly was “outside the rule of law” and that the court had the authority to take over congressional duties.
Opposition leaders protested the ruling outside the supreme court in Caracas on Thursday, at times coming to blows with police officers outfitted in riot gear.
“This is trash,” National Assembly President Julio Borges said, raising a copy of the court’s judgment and then ripping it in half.
Borges has called for large-scale protests Saturday, and asked the army to "not remain silent in the face of the rupture of the constitution."
Over the last year, Maduro has sought to consolidate power by jailing opposition members and indefinitely postponing local and state elections. His soldiers have violently repressed protesters angry about shortages of medicines, food and other goods in the face of skyrocketing inflation. Venezuela, once one of Latin America’s most prosperous countries thanks to vast oil reserves, has seen its economy crumble in recent years as oil prices plummeted.
The head of the Organization of American States called for an emergency meeting to address what he called a “self-inflicted coup d’état perpetrated by the Venezuelan regime against the National Assembly, the last branch of government to be legitimized by the will of the people of Venezuela.”
“Unfortunately, what we had warned has now come to pass,” the organization’s secretary general, Luis Almagro, said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Almagro sought to suspend Venezuela from the organization to punish Maduro for jailing opponents and seeking to reduce the power of opposition leaders, who swept congressional elections in 2015 and set out to remove the socialist leader through a recall referendum. But diplomats gathered in Washington from across the hemisphere could not come to an agreement on the matter.
The U.S. State Department on Thursday condemned the court’s decision, saying the move “greatly damages Venezuela’s democratic institutions.”
A State Department statement reiterated Washington's demands that Venezuela hold elections as soon as possible, release political prisoners and allow the National Assembly to perform its constitutional functions.
Carlos Ponce, head of the Latin America program at Freedom House, a Washington-based advocacy group, said the court's action "further dismantles rule of law" in Venezuela. “The judgment eliminates the facade of separation of powers and cements the Maduro dictatorship,” Ponce said.
Henrique Capriles Radonski, who lost the 2012 presidential election to Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chavez, said he spoke to Almagro by phone. "What more evidence does the international community need that there is a dictatorship in Venezuela?" he asked.
Where there is the necessary technical skill to move mountains, there is no need for the faith that moves mountains -anon-
Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #31 on: 2018-06-03 12:29:22 »
Sigh ... so we don't want educated hard working 'refugees' aka immigrants, from our own Continent ? WTF.
More Venezuelans denied entry to Canada as country's political, economic crisis deepens
Author: Kathleen Harris, Tom Parry
Date: June 1st, 2019
Immigration Minister Hussen insists there is no political interference in individual cases
A Gatineau, Que. doctor says Venezuelans caught in a deepening political and economic crisis at home are being unfairly being denied travel visas to Canada.
Gabriela Prada said she hoped her sister and mother could visit to attend her daughter's graduation, but their visa applications were turned down. A letter explaining the rationale for her sister's refusal cited family ties to Canada and turmoil in her home country.
"Given the deteriorating social, economic and political situations in Venezuela, I am not satisfied that you are a bona fide visitor who will depart Canada by the end of any authorized stay," the letter reads.
Prada said that decision is inappropriate and runs counter to Canada's foreign policy position that joins other countries in condemning the escalating humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
"It is good for Canada to endorse other countries, but at the same time, it discriminates (against) Venezuelans' applications to come to Canada. The policies do not seem in line to me," she said.
Prada said family members have come to Canada several times in past and have never abused their visa privileges. Her sister and mother have no intention of staying in Canada, she added.
Several countries, including Colombia and Brazil, have tightened border controls as desperate Venezuelans flee hyperinflation and the deep, lingering recession gripping the once-prosperous South American country.
Venezuela's collapsing economy has led to shortages of food and basic goods, high unemployment and rampant crime.
In April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the situation a "humanitarian crisis" and a source of grave concern to Canada and the world.
Figures from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provided to CBC News show the number of visa applications from Venezuelans has remained steady over the last few years — but the rejection rate has increased.
In 2016, there were 11,919 applications, with 9,220 approved, 2,683 rejected and 93 withdrawn — a rejection rate of about 22 per cent.
Last year, nearly half of the 11,640 applications were rejected. And in the first three months of 2018, more than 54 per cent of the 2,307 applications have been denied.
A spokesman for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said each case is assessed on its merits in a fair manner.
"Visa applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis on the specific facts presented by the applicant in each case," said Mathieu Genest. "Decisions are made by highly trained visa officers in accordance with Canadian immigration law. Visa officers are independent decision-makers."
Visa officers consider many factors to determine if an applicant is a genuine temporary resident, including the person's ties to the home country, the purpose of the visit, the person's family and economic situation, the overall economic and political stability of the home country and the nature of invitations from Canadian hosts.
Greater turmoil, fewer visas
Economic and political instability can lead to an increase in refusals of visa applications, as officers weigh those factors in determining if the applicant intends to return to their home country at the end of their stay.
Canada has condemned last month's presidential election that saw incumbent Socialist leader Nicolás Maduro re-elected for another six-year term, calling it "illegitimate and anti-democratic," and has downgraded diplomatic relations with the government in Caracas.
Canada also has imposed two rounds of targeted sanctions and is working with international partners to pressure the Maduro regime to restore democracy in Venezuela.
This week, Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel questioned how Canada could be a signatory to a declaration by the 14-nation "Lima Group" of countries in the Americas deploring Venezuela's "serious humanitarian situation" while taking a tougher approach to issuing visas.
She also asked whether Canada is taking a hard line on visas because of the irregular migration problem.
"Is your department proactively refusing visas given the burden caused by the number of people illegally entering the country from the United States and subsequently claming asylum in Canada?" she asked Hussen during a committee appearance.
Hussen said asylum seekers have "absolutely no impact" on regular migration streams, and insisted that visa officers work independently to determine who the bona fide travellers are.
"They make their decisions independently and free of political interference," he said.
Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said visa requirements are a serious barrier for people trying to flee their country to seek refugee status in other countries.
"It would be of considerable concern if Venezuelans who might otherwise be eligible for Canadian visas are being denied simply because there is an assumption that, due to the country's human rights crisis, individuals in general are less likely to leave Canada to return home and might instead claim refugee status," he said.
"This is a time for Canada to be ensuring that Venezuelans who require protection from human right violations obtain it, particularly given the strong stand that the Canadian government has taken with respect to the country's deplorable current human rights record."
According to data from the Immigration and Refugee Board, 1,240 refugee claims involving Venezuelans were referred in 2017. Of the cases finalized last year, 388 were approved and 106 were denied. In the first quarter of 2018, there were 287 cases of Venezuelans referred to the IRB. Of the cases finalized in that period, 100 were approved and 76 were turned down.
Where there is the necessary technical skill to move mountains, there is no need for the faith that moves mountains -anon-