Thursday, August 03, 2017

Venezuela's Core Support

TeleSur notes that four countries support Venezuela's Constituent Assembly: China, Russia, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. Unwittingly, the article gives a long list of countries opposed but can only come up with four specific examples of supporters. (Oddly enough, they do not mention Cuba, which is unsurprisingly supportive). What this shows is how weak Venezuela's international position is.

China's support is based on protecting its investments. The Chinese government made a statement that the voting was "generally held smoothly," which helped boost Venezuela's bonds. Last year China indicated it did not want to throw good money after bad, and it does not want default. Therefore it does not want unpredictable regime change.

Russia's support is based largely on poking the United States. Russia has a long diplomatic relationship with Venezuela, which has fueled countless conspiracy theories, but for the most part it's a reminder to the United States that Russia is present in its back yard (with the obvious message that the U.S. should stay out of Russia's). At the same time, Russian companies are also exposed in Venezuela and so do not want more upheaval.

Neither country will stick its neck out for Nicolás Maduro, and China in particular just wants reassurance about its investments.

Nicaragua's support is Daniel Ortega's ingenious ability to support everything. He talks stridently about imperialism while working closely with the U.S. government. He can be counted on to stick with Maduro all the way, but would also be ready to work with anyone. He will not sacrifice much for Maduro.

Evo Morales, meanwhile, is a true believer. He can be trusted to support Maduro to the hilt and blame all troubles on the U.S. He is one of the last of the leftist leaders who swept in over a decade ago still in office, and seems to see himself as the standard bearer of that era.

Conspicuous by its absence here is Ecuador. Rafael Correa was a vocal leftist internationalist but Lenín Moreno is not, which is partly why they're beginning a Juan Manuel Santos/Alvaro Uribe type of feud. Moreno tends to keep his mouth shut about Venezuela, and definitely is not providing support.

Overall, this is shallow support. Evo Morales is the key, as he can work the smaller countries in the hemisphere to reduce any majority in the OAS. Cuba is not particularly relevant diplomatically, and the rest will not stick their necks out too far.


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