PopeWatch: Venezuela

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From Andres Oppenheimer in The Miami Herald:

Venezuela’s Conference of Bishops has released a bombshell statement demanding an immediate end of dictator Nicolás Maduro’s “illegitimate and failed government.” So why isn’t Pope Francis saying anything even close to that?

Before we get into the pope’s failure to openly denounce Maduro’s crimes against humanity, here’s what the Venezuelan bishops said in their July 11 statement:

“Facing an illegitimate and failed government, Venezuela craves for a change,” it said. “That change requires the departure of who holds power in an illegitimate way, and the election as soon as possible of a new president.”

Furthermore, the bishops said that, “In order for (the election) to be truly free and reflect the people’s sovereign will, it requires some essential conditions, such as a new and impartial National Electoral Council, an updated electoral registry and the supervision of international organizations such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the European Union.”

It added that another key condition for a free election should be the “closing of the National Constituent Assembly,” Maduro’s hand-picked Congress that he created after the opposition won the 2015 legislative elections for the National Assembly by a landslide.So what did the pope say after the bishops’ statement? Instead of echoing their demand that Maduro leave office, Pope Francis made an incredibly bland statement in his July 14 homily asking God to “inspire and illuminate both sides” so that they can “reach an agreement” to solve the Venezuelan crisis.

Far from putting pressure on Maduro, the pope’s statement played right into the Venezuelan dictator’s hands. Maduro has often called for a dialogue with the opposition in the past, but has always used such talks to win time and defuse national protests against his dictatorship. Time and again, he later clamped down on the opposition as soon as international attention shifted away from Venezuela.

Why is the pope such a wimp when it comes to Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis? Until recently, one could have speculated that his failure to denounce Maduro’s crimes was because the Vatican hoped to play a helpful role as a mediator in the situation.

But after several Vatican-brokered negotiations, the pope learned the hard way that Maduro was just playing games with the talks. Francis admitted that much in a Feb. 7 letter to Maduro that was leaked to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. In that letter, the pontiff reportedly wrote that every previous attempt to reach an agreement had failed “because what had been agreed in the meetings was not followed by concrete gestures to implement the agreements.”

Furthermore, Pope Francis’ July 14 statement about Venezuela was even more reprehensible because, in addition to the Venezuelan Conference of Bishops’ declaration, it came after a devastating report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Venezuela’s mass killings.

Go here to read the rest.  One could be tempted to write this off as the normal type of mealy mouthed Vatican diplomacy, which could be expected to call on God and Satan to talk out their differences.  However this Pontiff is not a normal Pope.  He does not hesitate to call out politicians who cross him on prized issues of his agenda, for example mass Islamic immigration to Europe.  No, his hesitancy on Venezuela is easier to explain.  Maduro is a Leftist thug, and for this Pope the bad guys are always on the Right, and never on the Left.  Meanwhile five million Venezuelans are fleeing their country.  The Trump administration also deserves a fair amount of blame for allowing this humanitarian disaster to go on.  Trump is allergic to foreign interventions, and so he talks tough and carries a big feather.  However, it is in the interests of the US to topple Maduro and get the Venezuelans abroad, particularly in the US, back to Venezuela.

 

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20 Comments

  1. The Pope is a leftist thug. There is nothing new here. The Cardinals are hardly any better. They should have taken this step years ago. The fact that they didn’t shows how unwelcome military intervention by the United States would have been perceived. Besides, we are not the policeman for the world. President Trump is wise not to commit military forces to regime change. Pretty much everything else has been on the table and this crisis is not remotely owned by our President or his policies.

  2. “Pretty much everything else has been on the table and this crisis is not remotely owned by our President or his policies.”

    What does that matter. The crisis is here and Trump refuses to do anything but bluster about it. In foreign policy Trump is all talk and little else.

  3. Donald, what would you have Trump do? He has already sent down food & supplies which were met at the borders with physical force & destroyed. Seriously, what would you do?

  4. Do what Bush did in Panama in 1989, and then get out quickly after we have Maduro in custody. This isn’t rocket science. Do nothing and Venezuela will be sending out millions of refugees for decades to come a la Cuba. There is usually a price for doing nothing in foreign policy, just as there is a price for doing something.

  5. Do what Bush did in Panama in 1989, and then get out quickly after we have Maduro in custody.

    Venezuela has a population 8x that of Panama and is in far worse shape economically. Also, Chavez-Maduro have managed to ruin the Venezuelan officer corps. Even in Panama, it took some years to reassemble an armed police force and tamp down public disorder. Venezuela makes a much more challenging enterprise.

  6. The US has not made a military move to get rid of Maduro for a bunch of reasons.
    Trump has been hypercritical about US military involvement in the Middle East. There is an instiutional unwillingness to get involved militarily anywhere in Latin America…which explains why Cuba remains as it is.
    The US currently has no need of Venezuelan oil.
    The self labeled “conservatives” who write for and comment on Pat Buchanan’s isolationist and pacifist website have a stroke just considering the idea.
    The truth is – the Cuban and Venezuelan thugs would get wiped out in about a week each but there is no political will to do it.
    So, unless the Colombian and Brazilian government’s decide that they have had enough, Maduro stays.

  7. “There is usually a price for doing nothing in foreign policy, just as there is a price for doing something.”

    I don’t think our intervention at this point is worth the life of one of our soldiers. We just simply disagree.

  8. “The self labeled “conservatives” who write for and comment on Pat Buchanan’s isolationist and pacifist website have a stroke just considering the idea.”

    They are a strange bunch there. Some commentators self-identify as Marxists. Some conservative voices but most vocal leftist/progressive/socialist.

  9. The people of Venezuela voted for Maduro. If rescued from him, they will simply repeat their mistake. To a large extent I see little sanity among Latin American voters. For that matter, there is little among American voters either. That said, let the people of Venezuela reap what they have sown. They must free themselves if they truly wish to be free. Sorry, Donald, that I disagree with you here. Yes, I realize I am not the student of history that you are. But it’s the principle of the thing. Didn’t John Quincy Adams say something like this? And have we not become hopelessly embroiled in things not our concern? (I’m sure I going to be blasted now – oh well!)

    “Whenever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will be America’s heart, her benedictions and her prayers. But she does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence for all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She well knows that by once enlisting other banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extradition, in all wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom….She might become the dictress of the world but would no longer be ruler of her own spirit….Americans should not go abroad to slay dragons they do not understand in the name of spreading democracy.”

  10. “Didn’t John Quincy Adams say something like this?” You quote him correctly. I imagine that his father, who recalled France helping us win our Independence, might not have completely agreed with him.

    Although I feel great sympathy for the people of Venezuela my main reason for supporting US intervention is due to US interests. It does not serve US interests to allow Venezuela to continue to be a source of mass refugees. Five million Venezuelans have already fled the country. I can imagine another five million doing so over the next two years. Quick US intervention followed immediately with rapid withdrawal, along with regional allies like Brazil, could lance this boil and allow these people to return to their homeland.

  11. You know, if Venezuela hadn’t managed to disarm the population, they couldn’t do this.

    Perhaps the solution is to air-drop weapons, and ammunition, along with food.

    The great part of that is that it’s something where if another country did it to us, I would think it’s freaking awesome.

  12. The people of Venezuela voted for Maduro. If rescued from him, they will simply repeat their mistake.

    Actually, the opposition won big in 2015, even with the government’s hocus pocus. The last legislative election held before Chavez died was in 2010, and even with various measures applied by the government, they were held to a minority vote and had a plurality of just 1% of the total. Little doubt that the Chavez-Maduro gang would be blown out of the water in a non-fraudulent vote.

  13. I always admired you, Mr. McClarey, but the American taxpayers do not agree that it our job to fix the world. President Trump is acting in the interests of the American people, and most of us thank him for it.

  14. “do not agree that it our job to fix the world.”

    I agree. However removing a tyrant from Venezuela so we are not flooded with Venezuelan refugees for the next few decades is in the interest of the US.

  15. I always admired you, Mr. McClarey, but the American taxpayers do not agree that it our job to fix the world.

    Can you please refrain from deciding to speak for me without so much as bothering to ask what I actually think?

  16. Didn’t the people of Venezuela vote for Chavez and wasn’t his VP Maduro? And then when Chavez died, didn’t Maduro seized power? Vote socialists into power once and they’ll never leave without force of arms. Ultimately the Venezuelans did this to themselves. They need to free themselves if they truly want to be free. If we free them, then down the road they will repeat the same mistake they made with Chavez that started this whole thing. Unlike Anglo countries, Latin American ones generally (not always) appear to have no proper sense of what real liberty actually entails. They have no history like England’s with the Magna Charta and then with Parliament limiting the King’s power. They almost always fall for strong dictatorial men. They get crazy ideas into their heads about using government to redistribute wealth for themselves based on promises of these strong men. I am sorry. With all due respect to Donald and others who may disagree with me, let’s build the wall and stop all immigration from these countries while they implode themselves. Rescuing them now is like rescuing a family from a raging alcoholic. He’ll just go out and drink again. Sure, you may have saved Mommy and children for a little while, but that guy’s havoc is going to go on and on and on until Mommy has had enough and she kicks him out for good.

  17. “Didn’t the people of Venezuela vote for Chavez and wasn’t his VP Maduro? And then when Chavez died, didn’t Maduro seized power?”

    Actually the current regime has been kept in power by bayonets only for years. In 2015 when the regime made the mistake of allowing a close to free election, the opposition won two to one in the legislative races.

    If we free them, then down the road they will repeat the same mistake they made with Chavez that started this whole thing.

    Not necessarily. The Germans have not elected another Hitler and the Japanese have not installed a new militarist regime. No new Mussolini is on the horizon in Italy.

    “Unlike Anglo countries, Latin American ones generally (not always) appear to have no proper sense of what real liberty actually entails.”

    Depends upon the country. Costa Rica has been democratic since the forties of the last century. Mexico evolved from a one party state to a multi party system. Chile since Pinochet has been quite democratic.

    “let’s build the wall and stop all immigration from these countries while they implode themselves.”

    Not going to happen LQC any time in the foreseeable future. Do nothing about Venezuela, and in a few years we will have a large segment of that population up here.

  18. Hmmmm, no. Not this time.
    The Venezuelan’s did this to themselves. Let them unscrew it. Send your sons to Venezuela to fight, die or come home crippled if you wish. Not mine, TYVM.
    A sorry, bad situation but the Venezuelans are not worth our young men’s lives. No way.

Comments are closed.