It is hard to tell who is worse: Nicolas Maduro or Donald Trump. They each utter so many ludicrous statements that it seems like they are competing for the most absurd comment. Today they come out saying one thing, tomorrow the opposite; they have no idea how the universe works but, even then, believe themselves the center of it. They are pathetic.
Both Maduro and Trump parachuted into their respective presidencies, without knowing what the hell they are supposed to be doing in such an important position. They both want to fight with their neighbors; they rail against international institutions like the U.N., NATO, the OAS, etc.; they threaten other countries with war; and when they try to show their teeth, they end up showing their true colors. They both foment hate toward those who think differently than they do, make appointments, and crown themselves as saviors. To conclude, I insist: They are pathetic.
The most recent confirmation of this came at the end of last week, when Trump − in another attack of verbal diarrhea − insinuated that he was not ruling out the possibility of a U.S. military intervention to deal with the crisis in Venezuela. His proposal was well received by war hawks, whose mouths started to water when they remembered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Of course, it would have been a ridiculous and dangerous decision on all counts, because it would have been like trying to extinguish a fire with gasoline. Given the countless offenses against democracy that we are currently observing in the major cities of our neighboring country, can you imagine the chaos that would be wrought if the marines arrived to "fix" things?
As a historical fact, we are reminded that hundreds of Panamanians lost their lives in the operation against Manuel Noriega − the most conservative estimates place the total number of deaths at 600, and some organizations have calculated that there were more than 4,000. And if we consider as well the chaos, looting, and vandalism that reigned in the street, what some might see as a solution for Venezuela would actually be a bloodbath of an incalculable scale.
Even though Trump should know that a military intervention in Latin America isn't viable, his verbal incontinence has given Maduro fuel with which to ignite his nationalistic arguments and to assume the role of victim. Thanks to Mr. President's escalation, the Venezuelan despot has found the perfect excuse to gather his troops behind an "anti-Yankee" war banner, holding civic-military exercises at the end of August "to defend the homeland" from foreign aggression.
And in the middle of this exchange of threats and counterthreats, the gringo vice-president, Mike Pence, visited Cartagena, where Juan Manuel Santos, the recent recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize, told him very clearly that Latin America does not need to begin new conflicts, but rather, to extinguish old ones. His position has been echoed by various other presidents in the region, from Chile to Mexico, who rejected an armed response to the problems in Venezuela, in an attitude that has given new breath to the Bolivarian regime.
In summary, Trump's boasts accomplish nothing, except for feeding Maduro's boasts, which are also useless. On the other hand, they certainly come in handy when it comes to capturing the attention of the press. Let the devil come in and choose.
To conclude: There are many who praise the fact that Pence has firmly stated that the United States is not willing to accept a dictatorship in this hemisphere. What a pity that the vice president doesn't feel the same vehemence when it comes to fighting regimes like those in the Arabian Peninsula or in China, whose leaders respect neither human rights nor the individual liberties of their citizens. The writing is on the wall.