2014: When the 21st Century Began

A thaw in US-Cuba relations is unlikely to bring rapid change to the island, while 2015 will see the Castro regime trying to shake off the dependence of its Venezuelan ally. (The Blaze)


We are nearing the end of the most geopolitically important year of this century so far. Events have changed, or are set to change, the course of regional and global history.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of southeastern Ukraine, and the shooting down of a civilian aircraft by Russian insurgents, provoked global outrage. The sanctions and economic restrictions imposed on the largest country in the world have brought it to an economic crisis in recent weeks, and have practically destroyed its entire financial system.

The endless civil wars taking place in Syria and Iraq saw the rise of a new global terrorist threat based on the so-called Islamic State. Tensions between Palestine and Israel spilled over, once more, into open conflict. Meanwhile, the appearance of the Ebola virus in west Africa threatened to turn into a worldwide pandemic.

All of the above, it seems, have changed the global political order. Now the European Union is being forced by its own Court of Justice to take Hamas off its list of terrorist organizations. The United Nations, a bottomless pit for state funds that has shown its complete incompetence time and again since its creation in 1945, is now seeking to recognize Palestine as a state, despite having created Israel itself in 1948.

2014 will be seen as a dividing year between our recent history and a “post” era. It will fall to historians to give a name to this new era in global politics.

In the Americas, meanwhile, we haven’t lagged far behind. The ineptitude of populist Latin-American governments has led their countries to deeper political and economic crises. In the case of Argentina, the failures and inefficiencies of of Kirchnerism have now become proverbial.

Meanwhile, personal grudges and the desire for revenge have meant that terrorists – now named “defenders of human rights” – have been active countries throughout the region. In Guatemala, despite the prevailing peace established in 1996, former guerillas, now occupying all public institutions, are challenging the logic and common sense of previous legal judgements.

The most striking case is their attempt to challenge the reality of the 1980 burning of the Spanish embassy.  Conscience and shame have their price. Proof of that is the NGO business of human rights, maintained with millions of dollars of international donations, and based on violence, misery and betrayal.  But it’s Colombia that has set the best example for Latin America, with the march of thousands against negotiations with the FARC terrorists. Ordinary citizens showed that they won’t tolerate the offer of impunity for FARC,  through which the guerillas are hoping to avoid paying for crimes.

Since the beginning of the year we’ve seen the weakening of the Venezuelan system of government – already shaky and of doubtful legitimacy to begin with – based on an illusory “socialism in the twenty-first century.” Popular demonstrations against the brutal regime of Nicolás Maduro have continued, along with the illegal detention  of opposition leaders and protesters. Also in freefall was the Venezuelan economy, based almost entirely on the sale of petroleum, the price of which has plummeted in the past six months. And it even seems that the ideological patron of the Venezuelan government, the Castro regime in Cuba, is tired of the lap-dog it’s created: in the past week alone, we’ve been witness to the Cuban regime betraying Maduro.

On Wednesday, December 17, to the joy of some and the great disappointment of others, US President Barack Obama and the Cuban “head of state” Raúl Castro — the latest member of the impostor family that rules the island — simultaneously announced the reopening of diplomatic relations, which many analysts have judged to be the “beginning of the end” of the US economic embargo of Cuba.

Those who are celebrating credulously believe that this bilateral decision will end the misery that the Castro regime has brought to the island. Those who think about it more carefully would realise that the foundation of this misery isn’t the blockade — which since 1961 has served as propaganda, justifying one-party rule — but the entire Cuban political system, rotten from within and compromised from the outside.

Immediately before this decision by Obama, which is highly unlikely to be approved by the US Congress, came the powerful images of the prisoners exchanged by the US and Cuban government. First, the USAID contractor Alan Gross, who has spent five years in a Cuban jail on trumped-up charges, leaving ill, malnourished and missing teeth. Then, the image of the three Cuban spies, Ramón Labañino, Gerardo Hernández and Antonio Guerrero, who left a US detention facility well-fed and almost plump, in a state of health that few Cubans on the island itself enjoy.

Next year promises consequences aplenty, and everything suggests that the majority will be momentous. Tensions will continue between Cuba and the United States, but now also between Cuba and Venezuela: with the fall in global oil prices, the latter is increasingly becoming a burden for the Castro regime. We’ll see the outcome in 2015, but one thing is for certain: for the authoritarian regime of Maduro in Venezuela, and that of Vladimir Putin in Russia, their days are increasingly numbered.

Translated by Laurie Blair.

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