As the Venezuelan crisis mounts the last presentation made by Professor David Smilde at WOLA, the Washington Office for Latin America, showed less of a bias in favor of the Venezuelan regime. Please see:
I have no doubt Professor Smilde is trying to be impartial but he still clings to the idea that the Venezuelan government is just a bad government, still not accepting that it is a corrupt, inept and murderous regime. Every one of these adjectives can be sufficiently documented.
In his presentation Professor Smilde made much emphasis on the economic side of the Venezuelan problem. He was right in saying that basic foodstuffs, medicines and other are scarce. But he explained it as a problem of the government’s own creation, of dramatic economic mismanagement. He makes it sound as if the government always had good intentions but erred in its policies. Of course, this is not the case. The government is consciously, ideologically driven into actions that are ruining the country. It is not a matter of having good intentions but applying the wrong policies. It is a matter of ideological perversity.
Professor Smilde says that Maduro tries to follow Chavez’s model but lacks his charisma. This would seem to suggest that Chavez had it right. The reality is that Chavez’s model was already extremely harmful to the nation. Chavez’s model ran the country into the ground. Even when he was very ill, this corrupt leader had the perversity of running for president for the next six years, when he already knew he would not live for six more months. His campaign consumed billions of dollars, as admitted by former finance minister Jorge Giordani. . This is a fact that Professor Smilde glosses over.
Professor Smilde says that Maduro is ruining the Chavez’s legacy, one he defines as reformist and popular. He correctly says that Maduro’s popularity is now very low (currently is running below 20%). However, if I understood him correctly, he added that the regime can still turn things around, that the coming elections are not yet pre-determined. Chavismo, he says, is not over.
He talks about the coming legislative elections but does not mention that the elections will be monitored by the same corrupt officers, illegally selected.
One comment made by professor Smilde is unacceptable to democratic Venezuelans. He says that the chances for a succesful dialogue in Venezuela promoted by UNASUR have been compromised by the issuing of sanctions by the U.S. against members of the Venezuelan government. This is absurd. Smilde should know that UNASUR is run by Ernesto Samper, a man who became president of Colombia thanks to the drug cartels and is now an unconditional supporter of Nicolas Maduro. The dialogue they promote is a mechanism for maintaining Maduro in power.
For WOLA the Venezuelan situation still belongs into the realm of conventional political science. The reality is that it belongs into the criminal realm of human rights violations and failed states.