Pedro Mario Burelli :Venezuela to probe
Chavez cancer poisoning accusation
Hours before owing up to the death of the failed-coupster turned global-troublemaker, his appointed successor, Nicolas Maduro, informed the world that they were convinced that Chávez's cancer has been inoculated by 'his historical enemies', hint..hint. the US first and foremost. A bona fide Narcostate that has gotten away with a great deal of narco shenanigans, blatantly pulls a page from Fidel Castro's handbook, or actually, the sole page in Castro's handbook. No proof has been offered, but no proof is ever offered in Fidel's one-page handbook. Instead of proof, the handbook calls for frequent and louder repetition of the accusation. For the US (as would be for any non-ALBA nation) it is very hard to counter such outlandish charge, but silence, and dismissive denials, are not really an option either.
The Obama Administration has done its darnest, and a bit more, to keep a safe distance from the internal affairs of the República Bolivariana de Venezuela (Name change on the way? Bolivariana y Chavista?). A couple of years ago, the Ambassador-Designate to Venezuela, Larry Palmer, had the audacity of responding with brutal honesty to a powerful Senator's written questions about the country. Fuming about a few of the answers, Chavez ipso facto pulled the Agrément and the two countries have been sans ambassadors ever since. Somewhat traumatized by the experience, the US went into semi hibernation on Venezuelan matters (at a time others loomed in the Arab world). Now, the whole strategy of laying low, carrying a little (tiny?) stick and letting all sorts of things (as in trans-border criminal activities) fly under the radar has proven futile and probably worse.
The relationship between President Chávez and the US got off to a good start with Bill Clinton; there was even an early working visit to DC. The stated policy: 'minding what he does and not what he says', was immortalized as the Maisto Doctrine (after its purported propagator US Ambassador to Venezuela John Maisto). But by the end of '99, that doctrine began to crumble as Castro talked Chávez into rejecting two ship-loads of pre-negotiated US assistance destined to La Guaira after landslides there caused massive loss of life and infrastructure. Playing on his younger protege's budding paranoia, Fidel convinced him that all those US Army Engineers onboard were actually CIA agents using the humanitarian mission as a cover for evil doing in Bolivar's homeland. Chávez, who apparently was nursing one of his frecuent bouts of depression in Havana at the time, obliged and caused the ships to return to their Virginia port. The US fumed to no avail and from then on it has been a constant slide into unneighbourly tit - mostly from Caracas - for tats - mostly from DC. With some ups and many more downs, it has been a slow and relentless train wreck of a relationship.
The obvious need for a foreign enemy to blame for the growing ills of the rich-poor nation could not have it any other way.
The second term of the Bush 43 Administration brought in a new approach: "ignore the man completely, but investigate his deeds thoroughly" (Bush never once uttered the name Chávez despite the almost daily and brutish insults from "el caballero Bolivariano" as he was baptized by another US envoy to Caracas). This more muscular approach resulted in the Justice and Treasury Departments designating four key cofficials - all of whom reported solely to Chávez - as 'kingpins'.
Reluctantly, and belatedly, the Obama administration that had intended to improve relations with a country that the President dismissed as a threat by cavalierly stating, "(Its) defense budget is probably 1/600th of the United States', designated three more in Chávez's inner circle as kingpins. In order not to be seen as too 'vindictive' or 'agressive' they spared a handful of others despite having ample evidence to proceed. Every single one of the targeted officials moved on to higher office praised along the way by Mr. Chávez. By failing to properly prosecute these cases (and others), the US set itself up to be painted as THE aggressor and meekly handed the 'victim's crown' to those it had outed as the most blatant criminals within the chavista ranks.
Standing now accused of a farsical plot to kill a man that voluntarily chose to be treated in Cuba - talk about a death wish, the US would do well to reengineer its entire approach towards a country that might no longer be a stable source of energy, but has clearly become a deep barrel of current and future trouble. To err is indeed human, to do so in this particular case is something else. PMB
Read: Reuters: Venezuela to probe Chavez cancer poisoning accusation
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Pedro M. Burelli (PMB) is a financial consultant, a former member of PDVSA board of director and ex head of JPMorgan Capital Corporation – Latin America. Most of his articles can be read at http://pmbcomments.blogspot.com. Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views.
Editor's Note:This commentary was originally published on pmbcomments.blogspot.com on March 12, 2013. Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers.
Petroleumworld News 06/13/2013
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