Monday, March 17, 2014

Letter to John Kerry

A group of academics signed an open letter to John Kerry about the situation in Venezuela. The upshot is that the U.S. is "aggressive" and encouraging violence so it is should respect the legitimacy of Venezuelan elections.

This is similar to a discussion I had a month ago about the nature of Kerry's comments. Criticism of the Maduro government is taken as evidence of interventionism and inevitably there are comparisons to 2002, no matter how different the context.

For the most part, Kerry's comments have been mild and you really have to parse them to suck out a sense of intervention. An exception is his comment about a "terror campaign," which is excessive and inappropriate. He constantly talks about the need for dialogue and the need for OAS dialogue. I know that UNASUR is the preferred forum for many who are more sympathetic to the government, but calling for OAS action is not exactly imperialist aggression. That's why he's being hit from the right. If he continues that type of talk, I'll be more inclined to agree.

For now, though, if I were to write such a letter I would focus not on accusations of interventionism, but rather a) avoiding inflated rhetoric while simultaneously calling for dialogue (which indeed is the modus operandi of the Maduro administration); and b) avoiding sanctions. For the most part, the Obama administration has been very good at avoiding Bush-era comments, which had the sole result of becoming a perfect foil for Hugo Chávez. So now we get Elías Jaua calling Kerry a "murderer" in response to the terror mention. These comments on both sides are useless and best avoided.


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