October 20, 2014
Venezuela and Cuba are still Hemispheric Threats to Democracy
Venezuela’s approval vote last week by the United Nation’s
General Assembly, to join the Security Council for two years, showcases obvious incoherencies, paradoxes, and other
amnesia brought forward by this decision.
Under the UN Charter the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace
and security, and generally leads in determining the existence of threats to peace or acts of aggression. The Council is tasked
to call upon the parties to a dispute and to settle the same by peaceful means, while recommending methods of adjustment.
Venezuelan government was quick to celebrate. President Nicolas Maduro called it a victory of Hugo Chavez.
“This is the victory of Hugo Chavez. He keeps winning battles in the world…. It's a day in which
the world has supported our fatherland.”
The irony of Maduro’s statement of loyalty to the late Chavez is that Hugo
Chávez probably inflicted more lasting damage on Venezuela’s political institutions, economy and people
than any other president in the history of the nation. Even in death a vast world media negatively exploited the Chavez
legacy and personal wealth, describing a systematically corrupt administration that squandered billions of dollars of Venezuelan
revenues, much of it still unaccounted for.
Chavez’s intense loyalty to Fidel Castro of Cuba, and his lack of decorum and
venomous tongue against the U.S., as well as any U.S. ally in support of what he called “The Empire,” included
personal verbal attacks while on U.S. soil, having referred to then President George W. Bush as the devil and smelling like
sulfur, at the UN in 2006.
The Castro brothers routinely mentored Chavez, the latter called Fidel Castro
“a brother,” and he called Cuba "a revolutionary democracy.” Gifts of oil to Cuba by Chavez, according to 2005 estimates, demonstrated
Venezuela providing Cuba oil free of cost for a total "gift" of US$6 to 8 billion until 2020. This
while, then and now under Maduro, the poor continue to live below the poverty line, in squalor and unsafe homes, with little
food and rolling blackouts of electricity, among other critical needs.
The U.S. Government maintained “that
both Chavez and Castro were also trying to undermine democracy in the Caribbean,” and portrayed Chavez as a security
threat. Critics said Chavez was using petroleum sales under preferential terms to increase his political influence in the
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Cuba an "outpost of tyranny," and Chavez a "negative
force" in Latin America. Chavez was criticized by opponents of trying to establish a Cuba-style authoritarian
government in Venezuela – with failures of another bankrupt and
tired communist regime that decimated Cuba for decades and inflicted massive harm to its people.
With a U.N. Security Council mandate
to “settle disputes with peaceful means,” Venezuela, under Chavez, nationalized major swaths of the South American OPEC nation's economy as part of a socialist agenda during nearly
13 years in power. These included nationalizing organizations in tourism, oil, agriculture, heavy industry and transportation,
among others. Chavez accused many of these companies of "exploiting the country's working class.”
This month Chavez’s
mistakes continued to appear. The World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes
has directed Venezuela to pay US oil giant Exxon Mobil US$1.6 billion in compensation for its expropriated assets.
Maduro and his government are currently battling more than 20 similar demands at the World Bank, by other foreign companies,
over the state's takeover of private assets of foreign companies under Hugo Chavez.
President Maduro has had an uphill battle
since his narrow victory last year. There are accusations of endemic government corruption and deep official involvement in
drug trafficking, as there were under Chavez.
In a September 2013 interview with El Universal, Venezuelan's ex-President of the National Anti-drugs Commission, Bayardo Ramirez, criticized
the lack of a clear policy to rid Venezuela of drug trafficking, which he said is “deeply ingrained into certain corrupt
sectors of the government.”
Venezuelan protests this year have occurred nationwide, as a result of Venezuela's
high levels of violence, inflation, and chronic shortages of basic goods. Arrests of student protestors and opposition leaders
have become common. And Maduro has characterized the protests as an undemocratic coup d'état attempt, orchestrated
by "fascist" opposition leaders and the U.S.
Venezuela’s security forces have been widely condemned for
their mishandling of protesters, with methods ranging from the use of rubber pellets and tear gas, to instances of live ammunition
and torture of those arrested. As well, incidents of media censorship and violence by pro-government militant groups, known
as colectivos, were widely reported.
Both Chavez and Maduro have used the doctrine from Castro's fifty-plus years of oppressive rule
against the Cuban people, the same verbatim diatribe of U.S. paranoia used by the leftist leaders to justify enormous defense
and espionage spending. Since 2005, Chavez spent billions of dollars for Russian arms and military aircraft.
Evidence of Venezuela’s
continuing Chavez deceptive agenda could be attributed to the appointment of Chavez’s daughter, Maria Gabriela Chavez, as Venezuela’s ‘alternate ambassador’ to the UN. She has been described
as a “socialist socialite.” And, like her father, “accused of corruption and enjoying the high life, while
the Venezuelan people suffer soaring inflation and widespread food shortages.”
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat
mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.