sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Here and There

Venezuelan Update

Yesterday, Juan Guaido announced Operation Libertad as the final phase of the movement to remove President Maduro and his regime. Speaking outside an air force base in Caracas, he said the armed forces no longer supported Maduro and called the people into the street. 

He called for a military uprising and for nationwide demonstrations to begin today, May 1. May Day has significance in the Socialist World because it's the day when "workers" join arms and sing The Internationale. 

News services posted videos of paramilitary police driving into crowds of protestors. One showed some military personnel loyal to Guaido arresting soldiers loyal to Maduro. 

Guaido called for a military uprising, but did you read a report of military units joining Guaido? No. I didn't think so. Individual soldiers joined him, but no intact units or bases. This is the second time that Guaido acted in public with confidence of military support that failed to materialize. He and his advisors have been duped by Venezuela’s senior military officers twice now. I wonder who paid for that to happen?

Several news services reported that the head of Venezuela's secret police defected. In an open letter, Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, the head of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN), said he always had been loyal to Maduro, but "the time has come to seek new ways of doing politics" to try and "rebuild the country. He is the highest-ranking member of the country's security forces to break with Maduro.

That's what the letter said. What didn't it say? Figuera did not mention Guaido or that he supported him as president. This seems to be the pattern of the armed forces. They appear to be on the sidelines, not supporting either Maduro of Guaido until the situation clarifies. 

Police forces in Caracas tried to disrupt the demonstrators, which is what police do. If the people with the best and most guns are on the sidelines, they represent a third force that has yet to make its influence felt. 

Maduro announced that the attempt to oust him was defeated. The Defense Minister said that the armed forces remained loyal to Maduro. However, Maduro did not call out the National Guard to back the police in suppressing demonstrations. He also did not declare martial law. 

No news source has reported seeing any Cubans or Russians. 

Though Guaido keeps calling for this or that, I see the situation as remaining static. The Russians and Chinese have their agendas. Guaido has his backing and those people have theirs. But nothing is really moving.

I don't see the US engaging in any sort of military intervention until after the presidential election next year. Sure, there will be war by other means, but no boots. Nothing like that unless Brazil "acts alone" or "in concert with Colombia" and they are not presently inclined to do that.

For the present, you should take Venezuela off your list of vacation destinations

The Current North Korean Move - reviewed

The sanctions are hurting. First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said yesterday that the United States will face “undesired consequences” if it fails to present a new position in denuclearization talks by the end of the year. (The Trump Administration doesn't seem to be sufficiently afraid of the Norks)
Choe cited a news interview by the US Secretary of State last week in which he said the United States may have to “change paths” if the negotiations break down. 
“Changing paths is not a privilege that only the United States has, but it could be our own choice if we make up our mind,” Choe said. “If the United States fails to reestablish its position within the timeline we gave, it will see truly undesired consequences.”
This is the third warning this month about the need for the US to change its negotiating approach. The first was in Chairman Kim’s speech to the Supreme People’s Assembly on 13 April. In that speech, Kim introduced the end of the year deadline. The second warning came on 25 April in the Korean Central News Agency summary of Kim’s meeting and talks with President Putin in Vladivostok. Kim introduced the threat that the situation could return to its original state, depending on the US attitude. 

Choe’s language shows that North Korean officials are studying every statement by senior US officials for signs of a change in position that would encourage more talks. Thus far, they see none. The Koreans have changed their negotiating strategy hoping for a better outcome and a more compliant United States. Their leadership has all read, The Art of the Deal (as it is translated into Korean), but it may not translate philosophically as well as one would hope.

Kim has adopted the position that the talks will not benefit North Korea but deserve a final chance. His initial position was that the talks would benefit North Korea, if North Korea were patient.

Kim wants talks and is committed to its definition of denuclearization, he feels that the US must change its approach. That means lifting sanctions, at least. 

The concept of having Six Party Talks is being revisited by the North Koreans, Russians and Chinese. The Chinese (and presumably Russians) are willing to provide security guarantees to the North Koreans if they hand over their nuclear weapons and de-nuclearize. Chairman Kim does not seem to agree.

We all know that Dear Leader Kim is a super genius, but the world has yet to embrace that. The North Koreans are perplexed, and they keep enriching uranium and building bombs. The Chinese gave the fat kid the matches and gasoline and they're still trying to find a way to stuff the genie back into the bottle.