Venezuela: Toward a Return to the ‘Cold War’?



There is a crisis in Venezuela: Two men are vying for power. Also, the United States, always ready in such occasions to offer its services “to the highest bidder” to “save the free world,” is supporting Juan Guaido, the young head of the National Assembly, who has proclaimed himself president. At the same time, Russia, acting, as it is accustomed to doing, in the name of the eternal principle of “non-interference in the internal affairs of states,” intends to lend a strong hand to President Nicolas Maduro. Suffice it to say that, up to that point, everything was returning to the normal order of things.

It is within this context, moreover, that, to escape this imbroglio, Washington presented to the U.N. Security Council a draft resolution expressing its full support for the Venezuelan National Assembly as the “only democratically elected institution” in the country; underlined its “deep concern with the violence and excessive use of force by Venezuelan security forces against unarmed, peaceful protesters”; and, finally, called on the council to facilitate international humanitarian aid and to implement “a political process that leads to free, fair and credible elections.”

However, as expected, the American document immediately provoked a counterproposal from Russia, which presented, for its part, an “alternative text,” in which it expresses the council’s “concern” in the face of “threats to use force against the territorial integrity and political independence” of Venezuela, and denounces efforts to “intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction.”

Finally, the text drafted by Moscow calls for “a resolution of the current situation … by peaceful means” and supports “all initiatives aimed at reaching a political solution amongst Venezuelans” within the framework of the “Montevideo Mechanism,” which is to say based on a national dialogue, such as the one decreed in Montevideo, Wednesday Feb. 6, by Mexico, Uruguay and the Caribbean Community. This text does not require holding an early presidential election as is demanded by the Venezuelan opposition and the countries that support it, because an election would constitute an obstacle to an inter-Venezuelan dialogue.

The aforementioned mechanism provides, notably, the creation of conditions for direct contact between the concerned parties, a search for common points, an opportunity for flexibility of positions and for identification of potential agreements, the construction and signing of agreements, based on the results of the negotiation phase, using the previously agreed-upon characteristics and timelines, and finally, the implementation of the agreements made in the previous phase, with international assistance.

Supported by the secretary-general of the U.N., Antonio Guterres, “the Montevideo Mechanism” was presented the following day at the Conference of the International Contact Group on Venezuela that was taking place in the Uruguayan capital and that brought together eight European countries (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden) and four from Latin America (Uruguay, Bolivia, Costa Rica and Ecuador).

Thus, with the exacerbation of the political crisis striking Venezuela, a little of last century’s Cold War atmosphere that we believed to be resolved seems to have returned in the beginning of 2019 with this issue: Two blocs, led by Moscow and Washington, are clashing, each supporting its “champion” − Maduro for some, Guaido for others. …

In addition, by appointing Elliott Abrams to the post of special emissary responsible for restoring democracy to Venezuela − the same man who, in the 1980s, was tasked by the White House with overseeing the transport of American aid to the Contras during their anti-governmental guerrilla war in Nicaragua − Washington seems to actually want to revive the famous Monroe Doctrine proclaiming “America for Americans” that it rattled in 1961, when Fidel Castro initiated rapprochement with the Soviet Union, thus putting American soil at risk of an eventual attack by Soviet missiles launched from Cuba. We know the rest, with the famous Bay of Pigs invasion and the economic strangulation of the island that lasted more than five decades.

Considering, at last, that the self-proclaimed president would have already agreed to a “foreign” military intervention in Venezuela and that this could only result in the “break-up” of the country for which − without a doubt − Venezuelans would pay a heavy price, there is nothing left to do but hope to revive the status quo ante that prevailed during the Cold War era when, for the preservation of peace and in the name of balance of power, both used their vetoes in turn. So, we will wait and see. …

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