Several events happened in the last several weeks that are worrisome for hemispheric security.
The first is the victory of Alberto Fernandez and his candidate for vice-president, former president Cristina Kirchner in the Argentine primaries.
The second is the exit of the national U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Most recently Mr. Fernandez claimed that the regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela is not a dictatorship because it is an elected government.
This perspective is worrisome, expecially in light of the fact that it is known that Maduro’s victories were the result of fraud and that violent repression of protests and extra-judicial killing of opponents are routine.
To add outrage to his remarks Mr. Fernandez pointed out that in Venezuela institutions are working well. However, he did not elaborate.
In fact, no social, political or legal institution is functioning in Venezuela except the repressive apparatus of the state. The economy is in ruins to say the least. The law, the courts and the oil industry have been subordinated to the prerogatives of the regime to serve the perpetuation of the regime and the enrichment of its leaders and cronies.
Illegal crime and drug trafficking is encouraged by the state; criminals are being used as para-military forces against protestors and opponents. Terrorist organizations and the Cuban espionage apparatus are used to protect an illegitimate regime and oppress anybody that dares to resist. There is absolutely no one institution functioning in Venezuela except those adversely impacting society overall.
Democracy should be about government of the people, by the people and for the people.
In Venezuela it is exactly the opposite.
Fernandez’ ridiculous remarks were an excuse to justify passivity and even support for the regime; they are in sharp contrast with the current Argentinean president Mauricio Macri.
Fernandez has tried to dissipate the notion that he is nothing but a puppet of his candidate for vice president Cristina Kirchner. However, his legitimizing of the Maduro regime is clearly a reflection of Kirchner’s views.
Ms. Kirchner believed in Hugo Chavez’s idea of socialism and Latin American unity. Ahe also defended the repressive Venezuelan regime honoring Chavez — even post-mortem.
She also made a deal with Iran, stipulating that Iran was supposed to investigate itself over its role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires (AMIA).
When Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman was about to denounce the president and her foreign minister, specifically by accusing them of engaging in a cover up for Iran, the prosecutor died in an apparent suicide. Very few believed Nisman's death to be self-inflicted. The prosecutor's death was followed by defamation of the Nisman, and often encouraged by the government.
Most recently, Alberto Fernandez spoke against President Mauricio Macri’s decision to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Fernandez justified his view by resorting to a speculative theory containing no proof.
According to Fernandez, the attack on AMIA took place because the government of Argentina choose a policy upsetting various Mideast elements.
The theory is that former president Carlos Menem failed to fulfill his promises to Syrian president Hafiz al-Assad and became closer to Israel — and to the United States.
Menem was later accused of covering up of the "Syrian track," and trying to hide the relationship between his business(es) with Syria.
Though Menem was utlimately tried, he was acquitted.
Still Fernandez claims that if Argentina upsets Hezbollah it may endanger Argentinians.
In fact, he defined the subject of Hezbollah as a geo-political problem that has nothing to do with Argentina. He said that in total denial of the fact that Hezbollah’s presence in the region, including in Argentina, has geometrically increased with encouragement of the Venezuelan government.
Furthermore, in July President Macri joined the United States, Brazil, and Paraguay in signing an agreement that established a joint security mechanism to fight terrorism.
The goal of the agreement was precisely to establish a strong cooperation between these countries to monitor terrorist activities in the tri-border area between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The tri-border is known as a place where Hezbollah raises money to finance its terrorist activities. Hezbollah also works together with drug cartels and benefits from drug money.
Argentina played an important role in this agreement and now Fernandez dismisses it altogether. It looks like Kirchner’s policies of covering up for Iran and Hezbollah are likely to continue.
This development is dangerous.
Another worrisome event is the departure of John Bolton as national security adviser.
Bolton was one of the main pushers for regime change in Venezuela. Heavy sanctions and isolation of Venezuela were major successes of this administration, with Bolton playing a significant role. It's true that Bolton’s pledges of regime change have not yet been fulfilled.
Furthermore, Bolton created false expectations not only for Trump but also for the Venezuelan opposition and the Venezuelan people. However, Bolton was very assertive in making every possible effort to get rid of the Maduro regime and these efforts are worth to continue.
Bolton’s departure has raised concerns in Venezuela.
Venezuelan media has contacted me for interviews on the subject-matter more than ever before in the past in the aftermath of Bolton ‘s departure. The main question asked is, what will be the future of U.S policy towards Venezuela?
The probable election of Alberto Fernandez as president of Argentina in October and the departure of John Bolton may give a dangerous boost to the Maduro regime and increase its hope that pressure on the regime may lessen.
Luis Fleischman is a professor of Sociology at Palm Beach State College, the co-founder of the think-tank the Palm Beach Center for Democracy and Policy Research and an advisor on Latin America for the Center for Security Policy. He is also the author of "Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era: The Threat to U.S. Security." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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