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Trump Can Take the Lead in Latin America, But Must Act Soon

Trump Can Take the Lead in Latin America, But Must Act Soon
Swiss Confederation President Doris Leuthard and Argentine President Mauricio Macri, recently shook hands during a photo opportunity at Government House, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, April 18, 2017. (Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

By Monday, 24 April 2017 01:06 PM Current | Bio | Archive

During the past few weeks President Trump has deployed a very intense agenda when it comes to the international arena. This has played out in the form of ultimatum(s) to North Korea, pursuing terrorists in Syria, the dropping of the  "mother of all the bombs" in Afghanistan, and dialogue with Russia, China, and Mexico.

Yes, it seems that this administration is moving fast in order to fill a sort of vacuum created by what many experts regard as serious weaknesses on the part of former-President Barack Obama, especially on matters of foreign policy.

Next Thursday Mr. Trump is going to host his counterpart from Argentina, Mauricio Macri, at the White House. This could serve as an excellent opportunity to announce something big with respect to Venezuela, a country facing one of the most tragic humanitarian crises on the globe today.

Venezuelans remain desperate, and they are pleading for international help to stop President Nicolás Maduro's attempts at becoming a full-fledged dictator.

It's a great paradox that the people from what used to be one of the richest countries in Latin America, are now on the streets in every city fighting for food, medicines, and free elections.

Approximatley two weeks ago, Maduro tried to close his country's Congress. After a great deal of international pressure he revised that authoritarian decision. Following the Castro brothers manual, he now insists on putting into action the "socialist revolution," proving again that this sort of utopia does not work — no matter the culture, language, religion or ethnic origin. Like East Germany and the Soviet Union of the past; or Cuba and North Korea in the present, it only promotes the creation of a very corrupt elite, causing a lot of suffering and restrictions for ordinary people. Socialism has always been a tremendous failure.

Inside Venezuela, all bridges have been dynamited. The negotiation table between the regime and the opposition, coordinated by the Vatican and several former Latin leaders, has finally only served to buy Maduro more time. The government has not accepted any conditions.

The president must stop the repression of his people, call for local elections soon. He must put into action the revocatory referendum, considering millions of signatures were collected to do so. It is the only way to stop this process of bleeding, one which becomes worse — day by day. For that reason, it's mandatory that the international community apply pressure to Caracas, hopefully obliging Maduro to return to democracy.

On Thursday, President Trump has the chance to move an important piece on this tension-filled chessboard. He is going to meet President Macri who is a living example that in Latin America there is a peaceful and democratic way out of and away from populism.

A year and a half ago, Argentines voted for him, ending 12 years of the Kirchner family dynasty, returing to their country to a more normalized democracy.

Although the Kirchners were not as authoritarian as Maduro, their defeat in an election proved that there is life after populism. Macri is also in a unique position to be a kind of representative of Latin America as a whole. Brazil is now very weak and faces a deep economic and political crisis, Mexico has numerous problems with its northern border, wile Columbia tries to regenerate its own internal tissue.

Argentina is the only large remaining country of the region able to play an active role in the solution of the Venezuelan crisis.

Macri and Trump know each other very well. More than 20 years ago their families tried to engage in real state venture together, in Manhattan. Although it did not go far, that attempt allowed both families to gain mutual respect. Probably Trump will listen to any ideas coming from Macri more intently than from any other of his Latin American colleagues.

For those reasons, there is a very real chance for both presidents to join forces sending a strong message not only to Venezuela, but also to the international community. They can invite other governments to integrate a group of friends of the Venezuelan people in order to convince President Maduro to return to democracy.

They have to moderate the opposition and design a transitional and peaceful way out of the current crisis. It is also convenient to talk and negotiate the destiny of the dictator and his accomplices. It could be a kind of revival of the Contadora Group, which definitely solved the Central America Civil War many decades ago.

In order to achieve success, both Trump and Macri should invite to the negotiation table at least Cuba (and another friend of the Venezuela regime) maybe even Ecuador or Bolivia, plus the Vatican and some other regional powers like Brazil, Chile, Mexico or Uruguay.

But it seems that to denounce and condemn the regime’s abuses in front of the international community is not enough. This new group has to oblige the Venezuelan government to sit at the table and to accept its recommendations. If not, sanctions can be implemented.

Following the same case than the Iranian nuclear program negotiation, this group of countries could put in action a very strong set of sanctions against the government in Caracas. There are many ways to do it, but the key factors in this regard are in the hands of the United States. 

Venezuela sells almost 50 percent of its oil to the U.S. Since its "black gold" is very bituminous, it is not easy to find a replacement for the U.S. as a client. The technology to refine that kind of very heavy oil is located on the Gulf of Mexico's coast in Texas.

Maduro well-knows that his days are numbered if the U.S. authorities decide to interrupt the imports of oil from his country. That could be the Latin American version of Trump’s mother of all bombs.

Luis Rosales was elected as the youngest state representative in Mendoza, Argentina, in 1989. In 2011 he was candidate for governor in Mendoza, representing Compromiso Federal, a union of three local and national conservative parties. He is the Latin American partner of Dick Morris. Together they have worked in more than a dozen presidential campaigns around the region. They have written the book “El Poder,” about their experiences in Latin America and other parts of the world. To read more of Luis Rosales' reports, Go Here Now.

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Next Thursday Mr. Trump hosts his counterpart from Argentina, Mauricio Macri, at the White House. This could serve as an excellent opportunity to announce something big with respect to Venezuela, a country facing one of the most tragic humanitarian crises on the globe today.
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Monday, 24 April 2017 01:06 PM
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