EspañolThe oddities of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who spent months secreting away the body of his predecessor Hugo Chávez, and even sleeps near his tomb, have become common knowledge in recent years. From a distance, they provoke more embarrassment than laughter, although — putting oneself in the shoes of Venezuelans — this grotesque Caribbean character has likely provoked few smiles.
The last few days have seen more hysterical attacks than usual. In his eagerness to blot out the sun with his finger and fool the naive Europeans — especially the British — Maduro sent a letter via the Venezuelan Embassy in London to the BBC accusing journalists, opposition politicians, and half the world of being liars. “The tendentious statements and inexactitudes … add up to to an unjust and excessively negative representation of the Bolivarian Government,” it read.
I don’t know if the Brits have bought it or not, but for those Venezuelans who have to live through “revolutionary” hardships every day, and for the rest of us who live nearby in Latin America, we can’t be fooled so easily with these sloppy missives sent to the European media.
We can leave these third-rate “Bolvarian” diplomats to their conscience, but no one can deny the hundreds of people the police have arrested on Maduro’s direct orders, the arbitrary judgements far removed from any semblance of legality, and the crumbling ruins of the Venezuelan economy, a shadow of its former prosperous self.
So no one is surprised at the latest babblings of Maduro, the bus driver who became a tyrant, and his outraged cries about the United States. On February 28, his foaming at the mouth surpassed usual levels when he announced that US citizens would need to request a visa to enter Venezuela. Although Venezuela is within its right to impose visas on other countries, and even prohibit entry to whoever it likes, Maduro’s rhetoric reminds one of a chihuahua barking at an elephant.
Firstly — and Maduro, with his consummate diplomatic-propagandistic skill, avoided mentioning it — the United States has long been, is currently, and will likely continue to be Venezuela’s number one commercial partner for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the importance of this beleaguered Caribbean country for the US economy is measly. Venezuela doesn’t even feature among the 10 principal trading partners of the North American powerhouse.
In Latin America in general, and Venezuela in particular, bureaucrats and those in power also show few qualms about storing their ill-gotten wealth in the banks of the loathed United States. They also grit their teeth and invest in properties in such despicable centers of imperialism as Miami, Los Angeles, and New York, barely able to contain their disgust.
This financial and economic “patriotism” is the Achilles heel of the Venezuelan quasi-socialist ruling cadre. No wonder Maduro gets in a lather when the United States imposes embargoes and sanctions on Venezuelan officials. How can they claim to love the fatherland and Chávez while it’s made obvious they have millions stashed in the safest banks in the world, and invested in its largest and most prosperous economy? So much for patriotism!
While we’re on the topic, Maduro and his “revolutionaries” aren’t the only cut-price patriots of the region. Argentinean President Cristina Kirchner, a close intimate of Maduro, educated her daughter so well on the subject of investments that she went for the safest choice: a clutch of New York properties. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, studied Economics (believe it or not) in the United States, and not with his own resources. The inner circle of Raúl and Fidel Castro can enjoy the sight of Cuba from above, on board their private jets.
Once more, the Venezuelan government makes a classic dictatorial move and punishes its own citizens.
The announcement that the Yankees now can’t go shopping in Caracas without permission has only provoked laughter in the United States. Exactly the same thing happened when Vladimir Putin imposed sanctions on Washington and created a “blacklist” of gringo officials who were denied access to Russia and its idyllic Siberian lakes.
However, laughter aside, Maduro’s reasoning goes beyond simple ire. It seems like the real motive behind Venezuela’s “sanctions” wasn’t to hurt US citizens — even Maduro and his advisers will have recognized that few of them would even bat an eyelid — but to prohibit entry to Venezuelans who have previously migrated north. Once more, the Venezuelan government makes a classic dictatorial move and punishes its own citizens.
US President Barack Obama has just imposed further sanctions on Venezuelan officials and frozen their bank accounts: and why shouldn’t they stash their cash in their beloved revolutionary homeland? Despite the sanctions obviously targeting a few individuals, their bank accounts, and their property, Maduro once more rages and announces that the United States is destroying the Venezuelan economy.
If we remember that the United States is Venezuela’s biggest trading partner, we can clearly conclude — and hope — that Maduro is truly on the ropes.