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Maduro Shows His Militaristic Stripes, International Pushback Gone Begging

By: María Teresa Romero - @mt_romero - Aug 8, 2014, 1:28 pm
A presidential visit to the Military Academy of Venezuela.
A presidential visit to the Military Academy of Venezuela. (Flickr)

EspañolThe radicalization and militarization that Nicolás Maduro has carried out during his administration as president of Venezuela has been comprehensive, extending to the domain of foreign policy. This should come as no surprise, with an understanding that the “revolutionary” project is both national and international in scope. This has always been the goal of the Latin-American Bonapartist progressives.

This process of radicalization in Venezuela’s foreign policy crystallized in June and July of this year, as the Madurista regime further strengthened its tries to Russia and China, and without concern for the cost to future generations indebted to these countries. In fact, obligations to China now surpass the country’s international reserves, which stand at US$20.7 billion as of July 18, according to the Central Bank of Venezuela.

At the same time, the central government has maintained generous collaborative relationships with the Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) and Petrocaribe, and they have tried to formally link them politically to Mercosur and Unasur, all to the detriment of the Organization of American States and any real hemispheric integration. Maduro has also reiterated his unconditional support for outlaw regimes and terrorist groups like Syria, Iran, Hamas, and the FARC.

Nicolás Maduro has repeatedly expressed his support for Hamas against Israel, and has also approved a North Korean embassy in Caracas, strengthening ties with Kim Jong Un, one of the most bloodthirsty dictators on the planet.

All this was accompanied by an increased militarization of the Venezuelan Foreign Service.

“In the last year and a half, Nicolás Maduro’s government has increased the presence of military members in diplomatic positions, ministries and institutions of the state. [This is] a policy that was one of the pillars of the administration of former President Hugo Chávez, but has been noticeably emphasized since the arrival of the current Venezuelan president…. It reflects a clear dependence on the part of Maduro on the Armed Forces of Venezuela (FANB) to remain in power,” says former Ambassador Milos Alcalay.

However, only recently did this process of diplomatic radicalization reach unprecedented levels. It became apparent with the way the Venezuelan government dealt with Aruba and the Netherlands to secure the release of retired General Hugo Carvajal Barrios, former director of Military Intelligence (DIM) and close confidant of the late Hugo Chávez.

Carvajal is among the high-ranking Chavista officials included on the infamous “Clinton List” held by the US Treasury Department. He earned his place with alleged ties to the Colombian FARC guerrilla and illegal drug-trafficking activity.

Following Carvajal’s detainment in Aruba, the Venezuelan government threatened to break diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, cut off their supply of oil, and revoke all standing bilateral agreements. According to statements by the attorney general of Aruba, Venezuela even hinted at a possible military invasion.

The reaction from the Netherlands in this instance was surprising and strangely tolerant of the Madurista regime. Aruban authorities released Carvajal and denied the extradition request from the United States. The move contradicted the primary legal argument that the judge and prosecutor used to arrest Carvajal and distorted Article 13 of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

This sort of radical diplomacy displayed by the Venezuelan government has the democratic international community extremely concerned. The Barack Obama administration and other European governments have already made this clear.

The question now is, how long will this community tolerate these outbursts of radical Madurista diplomacy?

Translated by Guillermo Jimenez.

María Teresa Romero María Teresa Romero

Romero is a journalist with a PhD in political science, specializing in international politics. She's a professor at the Central University of Venezuela, a columnist in several Venezuelan and international newspapers, and the author of several books. Follow her at @MT_romero.