Tin Soldiers

New generations aren’t familiar with terms like Cold War. Nowadays, the world is multipolar, but American power is returning, and it shows. The giant is stretching and tearing apart the geostrategy which emerged on 9/11. Although that day is increasingly becoming a distant memory, its consequences continue to be felt.

The United States has once again turned its gaze toward Latin America. It has taken the trading pen and sat down at the peace table with Cuba. It also supports the Colombian peace process while continuing to sell weapons to and buy drugs from Mexico, something which has led to around 120,000 deaths in the war being waged on the border that separates the two North American Giants. The U.S. is winning; Mexico is losing.

Despite its recent rhetoric, Washington knows that Venezuela poses no threat to its security. The danger does not come from the bravado, profanity or simplicities of a pseudo-government appointed by Chavez to avenge Venezuelan history (in the same way that Tiberio retaliated against Rome by appointing Caligula as his successor). He knew that Maduro would make him eternal. Nor does it come from Venezuela — its oil, its failure, its hunger or its lack of diapers and birth control pills, which could threaten the great power.

The danger comes because, in this multipolar scene, three giants divide up the remains of Latin America. First, China is becoming more powerful economically and weaker politically. Second, the United States has regained its power and Russia is determined to regain its former strength through its use of force. When Putin dreams at night about “tomorrow,” he sees the red flags of yesterday. When we consider his role in governing Russia, we think of the country of Stalin or Brezhnev, never of Gorbachev.

The real danger comes because the United States has two major negotiations on the table: one with Iran, which causes a jolt in their relations with the Jewish lobby; and another with Cuba. The pitfall is that Venezuela is the second largest purchaser of Kalashnikov rifles. With the exception of the Mexican cartels, which they call “goat horn,” nobody has bought more AK-47s than Chavez: 100,000 in the year 2005. Moreover, since 2012, they produce and have invested around $12 billion of their black gold in all kinds of Russian weaponry: from fighters to missiles and tanks.

The danger comes because the interpretation of Latin America must be made not only in relation to raw materials, but also in relation to arms penetration. There are three suppliers: the first, and most important, continues to be the United States, with 31 percent of sales and generating around $640 billion annually. The second, with considerable technology, is Russia (with 27 percent) and the third is China, with 6 percent and rising.

Chinese power is not really located in its military penetration, but in its bulk purchase of raw materials. Thus, Beijing is signing endless checks with money obtained from consumption by a Western world, who signed its death warrant through its eagerness to cheaply acquire what would take around 800 million slaves to produce.

Venezuela is the great bargaining chip in the negotiations between Cuba and the United States. As it was in the missile crisis of the Kennedy era, now it is part of the banana crisis with Maduro, because while it takes to the streets in civil-military parades to show the power of its revolution — which nobody believes — it is trading at the tables in Miami and Havana. Venezuela is not a danger because it will not last longer than the negotiations with Cuba. When the White House finishes its discussions with the island and it is accepted by the international community and its people have a future, the Venezuelans will disappear like the political reality that never was, but who, while it lasted, dreamed of Chavez and his endless oil.

One can see the pathetic spectacle of Venezuelan parades (which dispel the utopian ideal) strolling down the avenues which, sooner or later, free men will walk again. First, because the conflict is a falsehood. Second, because it is a dispute between three giants about a country robbed of self-esteem, with pockets of nationalism that do not even convince the neediest. Third, because it is a war without bullets and demonstrates the government’s incompetence.

It is a daunting spectacle where all that matters is what the United States will gain by returning to Latin America, as well as deciding what will remain for the Chinese and the Russians who are at war with the West. The question is, what will the Russians do to make their presence felt in this very sensitive area for Washington? This will only be known after the loss of Cuba. Moscow may try, knowing that Havana will eventually be handed over to Caracas, to make its bed in Chavez’s former country.

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About Stephen Routledge 169 Articles
Stephen is the Head of a Portfolio Management Office (PMO) in a public sector organisation. He has over twenty years experience in project, programme and portfolio management, leading various major organisational change initiatives. He has been invited to share his knowledge, skills and experience at various national events. Stephen has a BA Honours Degree in History & English and a Masters in Human Resource Management (HRM). He has studied a BSc Language Studies Degree (French & Spanish) and is currently completing a Masters in Translation (Spanish to English). He has been translating for more than ten years for various organisations and individuals, with a particular interest in science and technology, poetry and literature, and current affairs.

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