martes, 3 de diciembre de 2019

Lowenthal y Smilde: malos consejos sobre Venezuela


****Buenas intenciones pero malos consejos


Wilson Center es una de las instituciones pensantes más prestigiosas de Washington DC y de los Estados Unidos. Su actividad cubre los más diversos temas y casi todas las áreas del globo. Entre varios programas de gran aliento  tiene uno sobre América Latina, en el cual se discuten los asuntos políticos, sociales y económicos de esa región del mundo, ver:  https://www.wilsoncenter.org/program/latin-american-program. Uno de los más recientes documentos emanados de ese programa tiene como tema a Venezuela: “Venezuela: is there a way out of its tragic impasse?” de Abraham Lowenthal y David Smilde, el cual ofrece una solución negociada a la crisis en nuestro país, la cual lleva ya unos 20 años de angustioso y ruinoso desarrollo. He leído este documento , el cual puede verse en Inglés y en Español en los siguientes lazos: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/lowenthal_and_smilde_final_0.pdf,                   y https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/spanish-lowenthal_and_smilde_final.pdf con especial interés y he hecho comentarios en Inglés, los cuales aparecen más abajo. Sin embargo, deseo hacer una síntesis de esos comentarios en Español para los efectos de mi blog www.lasarmasdecoronel.blogspot.co. Estos comentarios en Inglés fueron enviados a uno de los autores, D. Smilde,  pero no he recibido hasta ahora ninguna respuesta sobre ellos, excepto una cortés nota de acuse de recibo de la Directora del programa.
Creo que los autores, ambos de sólidas credenciales académicas, tienen las mejores intenciones pero sus recomendaciones presentan un riesgo de que, de aceptarse, produzcan un efecto más perjudicial que beneficioso para la Venezuela del futuro. Resumo de seguidas los puntos en los cuales estoy en desacuerdo:
1.    A fin de proponer una negociación los autores aceptan tener una base de confianza en la sinceridad de propósitos del régimen de Nicolás Maduro y lo aceptan como legítimo. Yo creo que este es un grave error. El régimen de Nicolás Maduro es ilegítimo de origen y de comportamiento y es un error confiar en sus buenos propósitos;
2.    A fin de validarlo los autores minimizan la grave situación de dependencia del régimen de Maduro en Cuba y afirman que no puede calificarse de un “Estado Mafioso”. Difiero de estas generosas apreciaciones;
3.    Como estrategia, los autores nos recomiendan hablar “discretamente” con Maduro mientras seguimos peleando abiertamente con él. Este es un consejo que no debe ser aceptado porque casi seguramente llevaría al rechazo popular de negociaciones clandestinas.
4.    Los autores proponen darle garantías a los personeros claves del régimen de que serán respetados, de que no habrá revancha, de que habrá protección de sus intereses. Aunque los autores no excluyen la posibilidad de aplicar justicia, claramente subordinan esta necesidad al éxito de la negociación. Esto es bastante más de lo que el país debe aceptar.
5.    Los autores recomiendan incluir en el proceso de transición a aquellos personeros civiles y militares del régimen de aduro que expresen el deseo de seguir participando. Esto suena a amnistía general, puesto que estos personeros expresarán este deseo, sobre todo si se les permite guardar sus dineros mal habidos;
6.    Los autores postulan la necesidad de “aceptar y ser tolerantes” aun cuando la justicia no sea debidamente aplicada. Este es un mal consejo, realmente inaceptable;
En líneas generales, estamos en desacuerdo con el documento de Lowenthal y Smilde porque sus aspiraciones son de una victoria temporal, de una especie de  tregua, dejando en pe los cimientos podridos del régimen que arruinó a Venezuela. Para que Venezuela cambie, debe existir una lección ejemplarizante, debe existir justicia. Debe enviarse al país el mensaje de que el crimen no paga. De otra manera, estaríamos barriendo la basura debajo de la alfombra,  pretendiendo que el hogar está limpio.

MIS COMENTARIOS EN INGLÉS, EN MAYOR DETALLE:

   Lowenthal and Smilde’s proposed solution for Venezuela underestimates the ethical component
                                               Comments on a Wilson Center Policy Brief on Venezuela.
See the full document in:        
https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/lowenthal_and_smilde_final_0.pdf,                          English version. And Spanish Version:
                                                                                      
A 4400 word policy brief on Venezuela published by the Wilson Center and authored by Abraham Lowenthal and David Smilde builds on previous work of both authors to propose a negotiated solution to the Venezuelan tragedy. Lowenthal is a co-editor, with Sergio Bittar, of a volume on “Democratic Transitions”, in which they present several cases in which negotiated transitions from dictatorships to democracy have taken place. Smilde is a professor at Tulane University, a member of WOLA, The Washington Office on Latin America and has written before on the desirability of a negotiated solution for Venezuela. This paper represents a significant, scholarly, contribution to the study of the possible solutions for the Venezuelan crisis, one which – we all agree- has become a great Latin American tragedy. It adds to the already significant amount of recommendations about the Venezuelan crisis made by international political scientists and diplomats and to the official position of several governments, especially in Europe, which advocate a negotiated solution to the Venezuelan crisis. However, theirs is far from being an unanimous position, as there are important countries and individuals that oppose such a way out. Within Venezuela the opposition behind Juan Guaido essentially rejects this solution since they do not trust the motivations of the dictatorial government of Nicolas Maduro. Popular sentiment in Venezuela, as measured by different polls, clearly runs against further negotiations between the opposition and the Maduro regime.
Reading this paper by Lowenthal and Smilde I am of the opinion that it promotes a solution to the Venezuelan crisis that rings illusory and transmits a misleading perception of reality, based on well –intentioned but equivocal or incomplete data, while underestimating the importance of the ethical component of the issue.  
Below I offer my comments.
FIRST COMMENT
I find the solution proposed in the paper mostly illusory because it appears to be based on the assumption that the Nicolas Maduro regime can be trusted as a sincere interlocutor. It is unlikely that the authors would have advocated a negotiation with the regime unless they could feel they could trust it. The paper by Lowenthal and Smilde indeed suggests this is the case when they say: “Before Chávez assumed his new term, it became clear that he was mortally ill, and he named Maduro as his designated successor. Maduro won the presidency in his own right in 2013, in highly contested and very close elections that were generally considered reliable, if not entirely free and fair”. The authors declare Maduro a legitimate president, stating that he won his presidency in a manner considered “reliable”.  Therefore, they see him as a valid interlocutor, morally equivalent to the opposition. There is  considerable evidence against this assumption, which indicates that Maduro is an usurper, lacking in legitimacy of origin and, even more so, in illegitimacy of performance, having become a cruel, inept and corrupt dictatorship. Venezuelans condemn Maduro in overwhelming numbers. They are tired of attempts at dialogue and consider them, on the basis of previous experience, as false strategies by Maduro to gain time and to consolidate political power.  This is the reason why the opposition has so far rejected most attempts at further negotiations. They feel they are being deceived and consider many of the Venezuelan political leaders who keep promoting dialogue with Maduro as collaborationists. This is the case of the group including Timoteo Zambrano, Claudio Fermin, Henri Falcon, Felipe Mujica and other lesser figures.  
SECOND COMMENT
In order to give substance to their call for a negotiation the authors feel necessary to give Maduro an acceptable profile. They say, among other things: “Venezuela is not, in fact, more repressive than Pinochet’s Chile, or more polarized than South Africa was under apartheid. Nor is it more constrained by its ties to Cuba than Poland was by its links to Russia. Representing Venezuela as a “mafia state” confuses more than it clarifies. Venezuela does have extensive corruption as well as government and military involvement in illicit markets, but such terms as “cartel,” “mafia state” and “narcostate” overestimate the degree of articulation and coherence of these criminal networks”.
In other words, the authors tell us that Maduro is not that bad. Political Dependence on Cuba, membership in a transnational kleptocratic gang, extensive drug trafficking, large scale money laundering, none of these peccadillos – intimate the authors - should be deal breakers and could be glossed over in order to end the Venezuelan tragedy. I find this approach lacking in an essential ingredient of any valid solution for Venezuela, which is the ethical component. Over one hundred Maduro relatives, ministers, collaborators and military supporters have been individually sanctioned by the U.S., Canada and Latin America and European governments. Are these sanctions to be disregarded as inconsequential? I would find such an approach morally deficient. I agree that there should be a sense of urgency about a Venezuelan solution. But after 20 years of silence and, even, of political support, by many members of international academia regarding the abuses of power evident in Chavez’s and Maduro’s Venezuela, it would now seem extemporaneous to allow for the cutting of some ethical corners in order to get to an urgent solution of the Venezuelan tragedy. Such a posture would bring to mind the strong image of pulling the trash under the rug in order to pretend that the home has been swept clean.
THIRD COMMENT   
The policy brief lists several of the components of the strategy for the negotiation. 
One reads: “Make space for negotiation. Notwithstanding widespread skepticism in Venezuela regarding dialogue with the Maduro government, at some point a transition usually requires negotiation and compromise between the conflicting parties. This in turn requires conditions that foster discreet conversations, even while public confrontations between the established regime and the opposition proceed full blast’….
Reading this paragraph I wonder if we are even speaking the same language. The authors would seem to be advising us, with the best of intentions, to engage in duplicity: Talk with Maduro discreetly while openly fighting with him. Transparency, they seem to tell us, would be an enemy of such negotiations.  
The authors continue saying: Don’t cling to maximalist positions. An authoritarian regime must be confronted, denounced, and visibly resisted, and citizens must be mobilized in the streets on occasion to challenge its repressive and arbitrary rule. But the opposition must not demand or expect too much too soon. It must accept partial and sometimes unsatisfactory advances in order to open up new possibilities for leverage”.  
This is generally good advice for a negotiation between two sides that disagree more on the how to do things than in what to do, but is not necessarily good advice for negotiating with a corrupt gang such as Maduro’s. Advising the opposition not to cling to maximalist positions sounds ominously like allowing for excessive concessions. Not to expect too much too soon  sounds like favoring a delayed game that would favor the permanence of Maduro and his gang in power. Is this what we want?  
FOURTH COMMENT
The authors say: “Opposition forces must induce elements within the authoritarian regime to consider a transition. This requires credibly promising that there will be no wholesale revenge against the former rulers and their main supporters, and that certain economic and other interests of established power centers will be respected within the rule of law. The institutional integrity of the armed forces and police needs to be assured. The individual rights of former officials must also be protected. It is not easy to reconcile such assurances with the understandable aspirations of long-repressed opposition forces, but concrete efforts in this direction have been necessary in other transitions from authoritarian rule. Vague references to eventual amnesty and reconciliation, or even broad outline proposals for legislation, are not enough. Some detailed plans must be made in close consultation with affected parties. It may be crucial to protect the physical safety of controversial key leaders. Establish a transitional authority that includes all sides. Finding means of interim and medium-term power sharing, rather than insisting up front on specific outcomes or even rules, is crucial to moving beyond authoritarian rule. For example, accepting General Pinochet as senator for life and as chief of the armed forces for eight years helped make Chile’s transition possible. Naming members of the Communist Party as ministers of defense and the interior facilitated the Polish transition”….”.  
Here we are coming closer to the crux of the matter. The advice we get is to convince members of the regime that they should go along with a transition by selling them the idea that there will be guarantees for their wellbeing, that economic “interests” (whatever that means) will be respected “within the rule of law” (how to recognize the ethical nuances?). The authors say that key controversial criminal leaders would be physically “protected” and remind us that Pinochet became a senator in Chile and members of the Communist party became ministers in the Polish transition. The advice is for a soft landing, even if it minimizes the importance of some legitimate moral considerations. Would not this be a moral defeat? Could the nation live with itself after behaving in such an invertebrate manner? Look at the countries where these soft landings have taken place. The political tragedies of Chile still seem to be just below the epidermis and the trash can be perceived below the rug. When considering the case of South Africa, the authors of the Brief would find Nadine Gordimer’s posthumous novel quite illustrative about the social and political crisis in that country. 
FIFTH COMMENT
The authors say: “In the case of Venezuela, some key officials of the Maduro regime and of the armed forces who want to be part of Venezuela’s future, key leaders of the democratic opposition, and representatives of Venezuela’s private sector and its civil society must all be included in the process of conflict resolution.….. In conflict situations, political leaders on both sides mobilize support by demonizing their opponents while claiming the righteousness of their own cause and the inevitability of triumph. But these mobilization messages can harden positions that make negotiation much more difficult. It is encouraging that each side sent relative moderates to begin the discussions brokered by Norway, a good first step. In order to build viable coalitions…. opposition leaders must find common ground and sublimate their differences and rivalries. This may require sidelining the participation of “maximalists”… . This was necessary in Chile, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, and elsewhere”.  
The authors recommend that key officials from of the regime who “want to be part of Venezuela’s future” must be included in the process of conflict resolution. This sounds extremely generous. Cabello, El Aissami, the Rodriguez brother and sister team, the Chavez and the Maduro families and the Generals who have supported the regime, I am sure they all would love part of Venezuela’s future. Should they, then, be incorporated to the solution process? I, for one, would have strong objections to that, on legal, civic and moral grounds. The authors further recommend that only “moderates” take part in the negotiations, excluding so-called “maximalists”. What is their definition of “moderates”? Are they those who stick to principles or those who close their eyes to the abuses of the regime?
SIXTH COMMENT
The authors say: “It is vital to work toward mutual tolerance and acceptance, even if full justice is elusive”.
The authors are to be complimented for their candor. This message clearly defines the Venezuelan dilemma. Will the Nation accept a pragmatic solution which would allow it to live as a mélange of good and evil, a Nation where the honest and the corrupt can coexist peacefully and, even, share the duties and rights of government? Does crime pays?  Are the rules of civilized behavior to be rewritten? Can Venezuela claim to be a civilized Nation if it allows crime not only to go unpunished but to share in the management of the future society? Is peace something to be bought at all costs? Should Venezuela become the land of the Chamberlains, the Lavals of Latin America? What would be the impact of such transactions and negotiations on the Venezuela of the future, a country desiring to have a place among the honest and dignified communities of the planet?
Surely many of these questions will sound overly dramatic but I have the conviction that if we are not forceful today in the defense of ethics and justice we will become permanent slaves of fanatical and perverse ideologies.
My father used to say that, although olives come tightly packed in a bottle once you manage to get the first one out the rest follows easily. I feel this observation also has ethical significance. On the basis of my experience, he who yields an apparent minor point will probably, as the first olive of the bottle, go on to yield the major point.

4 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

Lo de siempre. Académicos e intelectuales del Primer Mundo aceptando y aupando regímenes o, como en este caso, haciendo recomendaciones de negociaciones que ellos, en ninguno de los dos casos, aceptarían nunca para sus países. Hipócritas

Unknown dijo...

IT IS OBVIOUS THESE GENTLEMEN HAVE VERY LITTLE REAL KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT THIS REGIME IS ALL ABOUT. WE ARE DEALING WITH VERY IGNORANT, SICK PEOPLE WITH NO MORAL OR ETHICAL CORE. NOT TO MENTION SPIRITUAL.

Gustavo Coronel dijo...

La deformación de los académicos estounidenses debida al astimagtismo ideológico los lleva a elogiar y/o tolerar regímenes políticos que no podrían tolerar en sus propios países. Bien dicho, anónimo en español.
They do know what the regime is all about, dear second anónimo. They are working to see what they call a socialist system in Venezuela, since they have not been able to get one going in their own country. This is mostly about intellectual dishonesty.

George dijo...

malas intenciones, buenos concejos! que escoger?