Saturday, June 4, 2016

Why the Obama administration's outreach to Cuba and Venezuela is a mistake of historic proportions

Good relations with regimes in Venezuela and Cuba while their peoples die and flee

Obama with Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro  (April 2009)
 The Obama Administration since 2009 has sought a new relationship with Latin America, specifically with Venezuela and Cuba. This has been achieved in the midst of a worsening human rights situation in the region, coinciding with the expanding influence of Cuba. The situation today in the region is dire and the future is bleak. A new Mariel is underway with tens of thousands fleeing Cuba. Prominent dissidents murdered by Cuban intelligence agents.  Hunger riots are breaking out across Venezuela. However, in March 2016 President Obama made an official state visit to Cuba with his family and got some great photo ops with the Castro clan.

President Obama with General Castro (March 2016)
The Fantasy devoid of reality
The voice of the American establishment reflected in the the publication The American Interest provides an insight into the thinking in Washington DC that helps to explain the fantastic statements by policy makers such as Secretary of State John Kerry who in  August of 2015 said "the United States and Cuba are talking about ways to solve the Venezuelan crisis." Here is the analysis offered by Walter Russell Mead in The American Interest as to the logic behind this approach.
"Socialism has failed both in Cuba and in Venezuela. The Cuban people know just what is happening in Venezuela, and they know, too, that the two excuses that the Castros have always made for socialism’s abysmal record in Cuba (no oil, and the U.S. embargo) simply fall to pieces in the light of the Venezuela catastrophe. They know that the Castros aren’t getting any younger, and they know that integration with the U.S. economy represents the only possible future for their island.
Just possibly, Fidel and Raul have genuinely drawn the appropriate conclusions from more than half a century of socialist failure in the Americas. Just possibly, they want to burnish their legacies by doing something to help Venezuela step away from the abyss, especially if they can get some U.S. help for Cuba by doing so. Investigating that possibility was the most important reason, other than grandstanding, for the President’s visit. Let’s hope the subject came up."
According to Secretary Kerry if the current Maduro regime fails then Venezuela will become a refuge for terrorists and drug traffickers. This approach ignores some unpleasant facts that stretch back over decades and ensures that this policy will end in disaster.

State's Thomas Shannon (far left) and Diosdado Cabello (far right)
The Hard Facts
Not only is Venezuela already a refuge for drug traffickers but finds them within the highest reaches of the Venezuelan government. For example, Diosdado Cabello, a leading member of Venezuela's National Assembly is suspected by U.S. prosecutors of being in charge of the infamous drug-trafficking organization, "Cartel de los Soles". In spite of this Thomas Shannon, counselor to Secretary of State John Kerry met with Diosdado Cabello. Nicolas Maduro's family has been directly implicated in drug trafficking.

Castro regime involved in drug trafficking and terrorism
The Castro regime has been involved in drug trafficking for decades in the service of its ideological mission to undermine the United States with drugs and use the profits to fund guerrilla and terrorist movements. Raul Castro faced a federal indictment for drug trafficking in the 1990s but the Clinton administration quashed it. Despite ample evidence of continued bad acts the Obama administration took Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Venezuela under both Chavez and Maduro has become a refuge for terrorists and drug traffickers with the aid of Cuban state security agents.

Nicolas Maduro and Cuban General Ramiro Valdez in Venezuela
The existing reality in Venezuela is the product of decades of Castro regime involvement there trying to overthrow and undermine the democracy that existed there since 1958 until it was fatally compromised with the rise of Hugo Chavez to power in 1998 through popular elections.

The Castros really do want the end of the economic embargo
Furthermore, elite opinion in the United States has bought into the lie that the Castro regime wants the embargo to limit Cuban American and American influence there, but that is not true. With or without the Embargo the confrontation with the United States will continue as long as the government of the United States is a democracy. The propaganda of the regime in Cuba and its allies in Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Bolivia, and elsewhere is that the United States is an imperial power. Opening up to the United States economically as it has with other countries will present a new line of argument to justify its totalitarian control: the threat of economic domination by the imperialists.

This can already be seen in the arrests of Western businessmen and the confiscation of their assets with preferences to companies from ideologically friendly countries such as communist China, Vietnam, Venezuela, Brazil, etc.

The increased hard currency that the Castro regime is getting its hands on will go towards reinforcing the dictatorship's repressive apparatus at home and expanding its power and influence abroad at the expense of U.S. interests.

Hunger riots in Venezuela
US imperialism will be blamed for Venezuela's failure

The United States will be the scapegoat held responsible for the failure of Venezuela. Both Venezuela and Cuba are accusing the United States of playing a game of divide and conquer with the two revolutionary regimes that are both ideologically and strategically joined at the hip. The irony is that the Obama Administration prefers a stable Maduro regime in Venezuela than any sort of regime change. This is reflected in their outreach to Cuba in order to reach an accommodation on Venezuela.

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