In the last few weeks I’ve been called both a “right-wing Trump supporter” and a “chavista-madurista” as I explained my positions about the events going on in Venezuela, the country where I was born and raised.
I am neither.
Like many of my fellow Venezuelans who live elsewhere, I find myself being placed between a rock and a hard place, ill-defined by ideological extremes who only see the world in black or white. There’s no nuance for those who hold inflexible dogma as a substitute for rational thinking. And the left is as bad as the right in this regard.
I’m a Venezuelan, naturalized U.S. citizen who came to this country in 1986. I’m trained as a journalist in Caracas at a Jesuit-led university, and I’ve worked in Spanish-language media in Los Angeles for 30 years.
Far from a “right winger,” I was always a progressive, particularly after covering and observing the damage done by the U.S. in Central America in the 80s and the desperate diaspora coming to Los Angeles at the time. I wrote about death squads and bombings against the press by U.S.-financed paramilitaries in El Salvador, I covered the push against restrictive U.S. immigration policies, and I wrote a book that chronicled how anti-immigrant hatred has damaged the laws in the United States.
I’m also thankful that this country, the U.S., has given me all of these opportunities and I love it as my own, but as a political and immigration journalist and a columnist for many years, I don’t shy away from critical thinking about the actions of this or any other government.
Unfortunately, I have found myself at odds with my fellow progressives on the issue of Venezuela, even with some of my closest friends, which gives me no pleasure. I am not the only Venezuelan who feels this way: I know enough of my countrymen and women who hold views similar to my own, and there’s an active conversation going on in social media and community about how discouraged we feel with the hard-left positions regarding Venezuela.
Most of us are, at this point, in full support of the call for the Nicolás Maduro regime to step down. We want to see new elections in Venezuela leading to a restoration of the democratic guarantees and relief for my fellow Venezuelans in their struggle to survive economically.
We want the 3.4 million Venezuelans who have become migrants and refugees around the world, including 2.7 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, to be able to return home if they wish, to a safe and democratic Venezuela.
We want to see the end of the authoritarian regime that has so badly mismanaged the country, muzzled freedom of the press by censorship, media closures or buyouts. We want Venezuela back from the brink of disaster, and the rebuilding of the institutions that can help us create a better country.
Many of us are also, however, torn or opposed to any military intervention of the U.S. in Venezuela, not only because of the innocent blood which may be spilled, but also because we fear it will stain the pro-democracy push that came from within Venezuela in the unity of the opposition’s many parties around transition President Juan Guaidó.
Some Venezuelans, particularly those who are more to the right of us and many who are suffering inside the country aren’t that squeamish. But the calls for the U.S. to invade Venezuela and depose Maduro and his government are an act of desperation that those of us with the luxury of not living there can comfortably oppose.
I can be seen as a “chavista-madurista” by some Trump supporters, because I’m not singing his praises. I have covered the President from day one as a candidate and know too well that he isn’t a true democrat but an autocrat at heart. Venezuela is a perfect project for him, where he can combine his desire for new riches with a medal for attacking socialism. The bottom line for him is that he’s decided to run for re-election as a new “Joe McCarthy,” yelling “socialism” at progressive ideas like universal health care and raising taxes on the rich. And he is using Venezuela for that project.
However, his government is on the right side of the issue at this point, so far, even if it is for the wrong reasons. It’s tough for me to say, but true.
I understand the concerns of the left but not their blind insensibility to the plight of fellow Venezuelans. I know the history of intervention in Latin America: Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, the list goes on. I’m not naïve about it by a long shot. But for those concerned about human rights abuses, and dictatorship, and political repression and prisoners, and fraudulent elections, I have news for you: we have all of that under Maduro. Where is your concern about the suffering of the Venezuelan people?
I’m particularly sour about my friends in the American left who have represented diasporas like El Salvador. I have advocated long and hard for that diaspora, covering their struggle, their need for political asylum and Temporary Protected Status (TPS). I see very few of my progressive pro immigrant brethren doing the same for Venezuelans. And so far, Trump has not offered any special status to my fellow countrymen, no TPS, no great numbers of asylum cases approved. Other countries in Latin America and Europe are doing a lot more in that regard.
Dear progressives: we need you to look long at hard at the struggle of Venezuelans. It’s no longer just the rich or privileged who are leaving the country, who are suffering under this regime. There’s a tremendous humanitarian disaster going on, currently the largest refugee movement in our hemisphere. My country deserves a new chance at democracy and freedom. Please join us.
Pilar Marrero is a freelance Venezuelan-American journalist living in Los Angeles, California. She produces and co-hosts The Pundettes, a political podcast. She tweets from @PilarMarrero.
I live in Ecuador where many Venezuelan immigrants and refugees are now living… and I have also felt this unease with the left position because so many of my Venezuelan friends have suffered a great deal and their families back home continue to suffer.
This is the first sensible, truthful and humane position on Venezuela that I have seen articulated in US media.
Now you know how Syrians feel.
I’m also neither a “right-wing Trump supporter” and a “chavista-madurista”, The thing is that it is not only about “…We want to see new elections in Venezuela leading to a restoration of the democratic guarantees and relief for my fellow Venezuelans in their struggle to survive economically.” We too want “to see the end of the authoritarian regime that has so badly mismanaged the country, muzzled freedom of the press by censorship, media closures or buyouts. We want Venezuela back from the brink of disaster, and the rebuilding of the institutions that can help us create a better country.”
The thing is: HOW? How do you bring down a mafia State, Narco-regime, armament holders, money laundering, (VERY rich) regime? HOW? How do we, civilians end this? How do we fight corruption with no power at all? How do we put on fair, free elections if it is all under the power of the very corrupt regime? We have no money, no power, no firearms, no justice…WE HAVE NOTHING LEFT! ..At this point, Venezuelans are hungry, sick, poor and hopeless.
So being “…torn or opposed to any military intervention of the U.S. in Venezuela, not only because of the innocent blood which may be spilled, but also because we fear it will stain the pro-democracy push that came from within Venezuela in the unity of the opposition’s many parties around transition President Juan Guaidó. “ is kind of naïve. I would like it better if the intervention was not only from the US, but more of a international coalition… but sadly other countries are as afraid as this journalist is. (I could even understand why,) but if this regime is not forced out Venezuela it will be lost forever.
The thing is that innocent blood is being spilled every single day, by hundreds. “Innocent blood” is being tortured with no possibility of justice. “Innocent blood” is dying in hospital with no medicine, sanitary regulations or as simple as lack of oxygen, and there is no one who could help, or they will go to jail and tortured too. So… Basically understanding that Venezuelans have been fighting this regime for 20 years, has us all tired, depressed, fed up. Until a couple of months ago we had NO hope, we were sure we were lost and people started fleeing! And THAT did the trick! From there on, international community started panicking! More that 5,000,000 Venezuelans fled oppression and poverty and created an international disaster for the hemisphere.
I would have to add that we do not fear the “..stain the pro-democracy push that came from within Venezuela in the unity of the opposition’s many parties around transition President Juan Guaidó.” Because part of the opposition had to act behind the back of the other half of the “opposition” in order to get to the point we are today. You see, corruption is not just exclusive of the regime, it runs deep in this country’s old political parties, many are also guilty of having WASTED 20 years of our lives in Venezuela. What we did need desperately was the international support, good political and legal advice, and someone who was strong enough to take us, Venezuelans, seriously, (abroad and inside.) So today we are here… And if it is not an international coalition who intervenes, THE USA …and Trump, are welcome to do so! “However, his government is on the right side of the issue at this point, so far, even if it is for the wrong reasons. It’s tough for me to say, but true.”
Then cut a deal with us. I can’t promise anything as the person you need to impress is my aunt and not me but she may be able to swing an endorsement from NARFE. Her contact list includes the (personal) contact info of Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein(iirc), Colin Powell, Elizabeth Dole, Gens. Wesley Clark and David Petraeus. Heck, her son (my cousin) just landed a job at the Pentagon and tho he can’t help officially he may be willing to pass on along a memo from yourselves to his contacts.
Who knows? Do it right and even an unofficial endorsement from the Deep State itself is possible! Of course, my aunt’s work for the Undersecretary of Asian Affairs is the wrong subdept. within the State Dept. but then I would think the govts. of Russia and China would be interested in having their loans to Venezuela paid back 😉
So, why don’t you ask US govt to lift all sanctions s a first step, instead of demanding a regime change or invading? Would that be too inconvenient for you?
Please describe the sanctions and when they started and how they led to this crisis. It´s interesting that you blame the situation on sanctions that didn´t even exist until 2017 (financial) and three weeks ago (oil). But please, go ahead. Tell me how a crisis that started at least 5 years ago, if not more, have anything to do with sanctions when there weren´t any. In fact. everyone including the US was doing brisk business with Venezuela until days ago. And China and Russia were pouring billions, What happened to those billions? You clearly know better, so please explain. Thanks.
Jai, the sanctions are not to blame for the disaster created by chavez and maduro and besides with maduro we are guaranteed there will be NO fair and free elections… maduro needs to go…
Blaming the sanctions is an excuse to cover their failure…
A. US Sanctions
• The “sanctions” started in 2015 (Obama) and Venezuela has been in crisis for many years. Back in 2010 Venezuela was already experiencing shortages of food and medicine, yes before any sanctions.
• “Sanctions” or Executive Order 13808 prohibits US Citizens from buying bonds and securities issued by the government of Venezuela or PDVSA. Executive Order 13835 prohibits transactions of any debt owed by the government of Venezuela. There is another Order about transactions with Venezuelan cripto currency. THAT”S IT!!!!
• This does not prohibit PDVSA of doing their business which is producing and selling oil. None of this “sanctions” affect PDVSA’s oil operations, the company has been doing business as USUAL for all these years;
• There are many other “sanctions” and they target government officials, individual from the illegitimate constituent assembly, violators of Human Rights, maduro and other persons close to him.
• The only sanctions affecting PDVSA capabilities to do business in the USA were just announced 1/28/2019… Not enough time for any consequences… don’t you think?
• None of these “sanctions” stop the Venezuelan government or PDVSA from doing business with other countries.
• None of the “sanctions” prohibits the government of Venezuela from buying food or medicines
Link to sanctions: https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/venezuela/
Between chavez and maduro more than 1,000 companies were expropriated between the years of 2005 and 2017 and they have been destroyed, just like they have destroyed PDVSA which was one of the largest Oil companies in the world. Many other private companies were driven out of the market due to price control. Among the seized companies were: Lacteos Los Andes (Milk and other dairy products), Aceites Diana (Oil), Fama de America (Coffee), Lafarge (Cement), CEMEX, Agroisleña (Raw materials for agricultural production), CADA (Supermarkets), Monaca (Flour), etc. Many of the companies seized by the government used to or produce similar products manufactured by companies like Polar, yet none of those products can be found on shelves because the companies were destroyed by the government. A good example is Monaca (Harina Juana – Flour used to make arepas), it is on government hands and the product is nowhere to be found meanwhile… IF you can find flour, it is going to be P.A.N., the one manufactured by Polar…
C. Price Control
• Venezuela has had price control for more than 15 YEARS!!!, at the beginning it included some 40 products as well as services, for example: tuna, beef, margarine, mayo, pasta, flour, coffee, and of course oils and rice as you mentioned. More products were added to the list as the years went by, obviously some products disappeared from the shelves because many companies went bankrupt as it was more expensive to produce or manufacture a product than the price they were allowed to sell it for.
Thank hoy Pilar. At last i read an opinion that voices accurately what I think! I will use it every time I need to find the words to explain my position.
Huh, I tried to leave a comment @CNCh but it’s not appearing for some reason. Anyway, if you guys are willing to cut a deal with the Republicans we may be able to get my aunt to contact the appropriate people in the State Dept. and in Congress.
I am a progressive Chilena comfortably living in the U.S. and I too want to see Maduro go; the way I want to see Trump go–through elections not U.S. intervention. If there is such a strong opposition to the Bolivarian Project, where was their candidate during the recent referendum? There actually is a strong opposition in Venzuela. The problem is, they don’t like each other enough–couldn’t seem to unite and topple their “dictator”. Maduro is an idiot and partly at blame for the disaster that is happening in Venezuela but he is not a ruthless dictator like the sensationalist journalists make him out to be. If he were, people like Juan Guido would have been found floating, face down, down some muddy river weeks ago. This is what I grew up with during the Pinochet regime. The opposition, of any kind, (clergy, media, academia, neighborhood organizations, etc.), was systematically hunted down, raped, tortured, executed, and/or dissappeared. Where are the bombings and death squads against the press? Look at Jorge Ramos; he dissed Maduro to his face, in his house, and he is comfortably back in the States. Since the masses have not turned out in numbers needed to topple Maduro’s “regime” and declare Guaido their new leader, that moron now wants a military uprising; he actually wants the Venezuelan military to start attacking Venezuela? Really? Some people need to deeply read up on what really happens to people when there is a military uprising and U.S. Intervention. The Chilean opposition actually learned to like each other and, through elections, toppled their dictator. I, from afar, very un-comfortably do oppose military uprising and U.S. interventions because my scars of such horror are with me forever and because, naive me, actually do believe in democracy and in the spirit of the People of Venezuela to unite and find a solution to their disaster, on their own.
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