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Keith Naughton


Is Venezuela the Next Foreign Policy Crisis?

by Keith Naughton
 

As if ISIS, Putin and Iran were not enough, another foreign policy crisis has been brewing for years and may be about to boil over. On Sunday Venezuelans are headed to the polls and given the venality and desperation of President Maduro and his cronies, stealing the election is a distinct possibility. Certainly, Maduro will be doing everything he can to steal it —it's just a matter of whether he can do enough to overcome his government's incredible and well-deserved unpopularity.

The collapse of Venezuela into a morass of corruption, violence and despair is criminally neglected by the mainstream media in America. Venezuela is the true end point of socialism and the politics of class warfare. Not hope and peace, but misery and violence. Socialism in Venezuela was not successful, but just propped up by massive oil reserves.

In order to be elected in the first place, the Chavista Maduro resorted to widespread intimidation, shackling of independent media and outright voter fraud. He has resolutely continued the failed socialist policies of Hugo Chavez, resulting in 200% inflation, massive shortages of basic goods, skyrocketing violence and a general descent into a de facto police state.

Chavez used oil to build political ties with the small nations of the Caribbean basin, in particular Cuba. In partnership with the Castros, Chavez allowed Cuban intelligence services to penetrate his own nation and help expand the oppressive police state.

Meanwhile, the other leftist regimes in Latin America have remained mute while human rights were tramples, democracy amputated and what should be a prosperous nation collapsed into corruption.

As for President Obama? He only opposes dictators of the right, dictators of the left get a perpetual pass.

But now, the bitter fruit of this cowardly policy of neglect is ripening.

Maduro may not be able to steal enough votes to keep his ill-gotten majorities in the Venezuelan parliament. But, then again he may not need to. This is a man and a regime that has had no problem arresting its opponents on trumped-up charges. As long as the bureaucracy and the security services are in his control, policies are unlikely to change. Losses at the ballot box could be easily followed by mass arrests of the legitimate victors.

But this policy may have run its course. The economics in Venezuela are so desperate that it is plausible that the security services will not march in lockstep with the failed Chavistas. The misery of Venezuela and venality of Maduro could very well result in Latin America's first civil war since the 1980s.

By all rights, Maduro should be driven from power. However, Cuba is the wildcard. Cuba and its security and intelligence services are hardly going to stand by and allow the flow of free oil to stop. This other socialist basket case also has a regime propped up by an oppressive police state. The 50-year experience of the Cubans should come in handy for Maduro.

It is very possible that Venezuela will sink into civil disorder. Thousands of refugees could soon seek asylum in nearby Colombia, Guyana and Brazil. Venezuelans could even be headed to America. Weaponry and safe havens could be expanded for the terrorist criminals of FARC, who have bedeviled Colombia for decades. The human tragedy could last for years.

What are the odds that the fumbling Obama Administration is ready to address this looming crisis? How about less than zero?

Obama certainly will not pressure the Cubans to stay out of the conflict. He cannot possibly bring himself to admit that socialism is a failed project and that its most extreme forms cannot exist without an oppressive police state.

While it may be possible that Venezuela starts the process of regime change and begins to extract itself from its domestic morass, there is no objective evidence that says that Maduro and his Chavista thugs will accept the will of the people and the failure of their policies.

Instead, we should expect another foreign policy disaster right in our neighborhood. And no answers from President Obama — yet again.


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