By Carlos Alberto Montaner
Nicolás Maduro will have to go peacefully, or he’ll die as a result of an attack by his own group, as happened to Maurice Bishop in 1983. Let’s look at six key factors of the conflict.
Juan Guaidó, President of the National Assembly and acting President of Venezuela until elections are held. He es backed by the OAS and 20 major nations, including the largest or most accredited democracies: Canada, the United States, England or Switzerland. Also Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Paraguay. But not only Maduro and his gang are against him, but also, secretly, part of his teammates who would like to be candidates and win the elections against Chavismo. For them it would be reassuring that Guaidó announced primary elections in which he would not participate. Since he is young, he has plenty of time and conditions to be President.
Nicolás Maduro has a well-earned reputation as an idiot. That is very serious for his allies. The Prince is feared or respected. Maduro is either feared nor respected, despite the violence that usually accompanies him. And Venezuelans have good reasons for that. It is very difficult to fear or respect an individual that speaks with birds. Inflation is a storm that does not stop. It has pulverized wages, food, medicines. There is a shortage of water and electricity, and the phones or the Internet fail. Sometimes even oil is missing. The country is broken and falling apart. Sixty four percent of Venezuelans lost 11 kilos in 2017. More than 24 pounds. Facing this scenario that has caused the exodus of three million desperate Venezuelans, Maduro responds with economic “little tricks” like the petro, a virtual currency that is useless.
Luis Almagro is the greatest ally of Juan Guaidó and of the free Venezuelans. He carries them on his back, like Christ carried the cross, with the intention of saving them from their political sins. He comes from the left and that is convenient. He is Uruguayan. He comes from a small and decent country that, unfortunately, has aligned with Maduro, which will take out votes for the carnivorous left that rules in Montevideo in the presidential elections. Nobody in his right mind will accuse Almagro of selling himself to Wall Street or Yankee imperialism. However, his former comrades expelled him from the sect without even listening to him. Never have so many owed so much to one person.
I’m not particularly fond of Donald Trump, but there is no doubt that in the Venezuelan issue he has behaved like a statesman committed to democracy and Human Rights, and that is something to be thankful for. It is true that the Venezuelan policy of the Trump administration has been drawn by Senator Marco Rubio, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart and Vice President Mike Pence, but without Trump’s support, everything would be useless and the Chavistas and their accomplices could assassinate or imprison the members of the National Assembly. In short, if Trump keeps firmly his support to Guaidó, the National Assembly has all the winning cards.
Raúl Castro and Miguel Díaz-Canel know that it is a matter of time, of little time, that Maduro regime crumbles if they do not do something urgently. Both of them–and almost the entire structure of power in Cuba–have a terrible opinion of Maduro as a statesman. They see him as good boy, but silly. Havana is very afraid of a confrontation with the United States and of being dragged into the conflict due to the colony’s inability. They still remember what happened to them in Grenada in 1983 when they faced the Marines. There were 800 Cubans who ran away quickly. Now they are about one hundred thousand, including doctors, health personnel and thousands dedicated to counterintelligence. Although “the Cubans” know that their best option is to continue swindling the Venezuelans, they are prepared to withdraw in an orderly manner to avoid the possibility of colliding with the Americans.
Vladimir Putin has jumped to the Venezuelan crisis in support of Maduro and has threatened the United States. That mistake guarantees that Trump can no longer leave Venezuela without suffering a serious loss of credibility. That means he will stay. In fact, Putin wants to restore the prestige of the Russian Federation and collect the debts contracted by Venezuela, but without reaching a confrontation with Washington. Russia has the economic structure of a third world country. It exports gas, oil, wood and imports processed products. It is the largest country on the planet, with 144 million inhabitants, but with a GDP per capita similar to that of Costa Rica. The United States’ GDP is almost 20 trillion. Russia’s is roughly that of South Korea (around 1.6 trillion). It is a poor country. Maduro begged Putin to come to the rescue. He is a false bodyguard.Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is a review of Las raíces torcidas de América Latina (The Twisted Roots of Latin America), published by Planeta and available in Amazon, in printed or digital version.