Caracas is beautiful. The architecture, the gardens, the weather, are all amazing. The warmth of the diverse people in the capital and the rest of the country are just as wonderful. Unfortunately, however, for Venezuela, it shares the fate of many other countries with oil, it is cursed. As long as Venezuela has abundant oil reserves as it does, the world's greatest proven oil fields in fact, it will be denied democracy and the people will never be free. This is a sad fact. Alas, the same is true for Middle Eastern and North African governments. The stakes are too high for developed nations to allow democracies to flourish, lest these riches fall into the wrong hands.
This new type of colonialism has spread across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Corruption is widespread and the weapon of choice for developed nations in controlling governments and the people they rule. The names of the leaders in these countries are inconsequential, they are all just placeholders and are here today, gone tomorrow. The proxy civil war that has broken out in Venezuela was sparked by the jingoistic American foreign policy that the Trump administration and its neoconservative (neocon) leaders favor. Maduro had already been in power for many years during the Obama administration, the difference is that Trump is president now. Trump himself isn't a neocon in my estimation but those that finance his election campaigns have the most to gain from regime change in Venezuela or any other country with natural resources and thus their interests are now aligned with the neocons.
The architects of the Iraq War are back in charge in the White House, and that means the potential death of thousands of Venezuelans will be viewed as simply collateral damage in the quest to remove the current Venezuelan president. Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo reiterated his desire that President Maduro leave the country. He didn't call for him to be arrested or tried or extradited to the International Court of Justice. He called only for Maduro to leave, leave the country and leave the oil. If Maduro is guilty of criminal activity, he should be prosecuted, not given a free one-way ticket to Cuba. It appears the intentions of countries trying to remove him and install their own choice for president sound less than altruistic.
Secretary Pompeo disclosed that he believed Maduro had given up and was about to depart the country for Cuba when the Russians talked him "out of it." Maduro and the Russian foreign ministry denied these events took place. Russia and Cuba have supported Maduro and appear to continue to do so. Cuba is a poor country that has a need for Venezuelan energy but why would Russia support Maduro and face off against the countries that have accepted America's recognized "Interim President?" The answer is that apparently, the Cold War never ended. The Russians have a nuclear arsenal that is only matched by the United States and they want the world to remember that. If America is allowed to pick leaders in South America now, what's stopping it from doing so in countries with more strategic importance to Russia?
In short, should regime change be successful in Venezuela, the United States will have renewed its status as the lone superpower in the world and the Russians will have been defeated. How Russia will be successful in pushing back American involvement, is itself an uphill battle for Putin and Russia. The U.S. has all the advantages in this instance, not least of which is logistical. However, if Putin and Russia are successful in keeping Maduro in place, this will be a harbinger for conflicts to come. Putin defeated Obama in Syria, mostly by default, but a victory nonetheless. He continued to do so during Trump's term but now Trump is in election mode and can't risk an "L" only two months before the first debate among Democratic Presidential hopefuls.
Continued pushback from Russia (and potentially China) in flash points across the globe were rare in the post-Cold War era but this may be changing now. Investors need to take note of how Venezuela plays out when making decisions about long-term stability in the region. In areas where the payoff is very simple and great, such as Venezuela, be weary of imminent conflicts and be prepared for long-term uncertainty.