Jan 18, 2020 Editorial
The story from neighbouring Venezuela is that Señor Juan Guaido is on the down escalator. It has been a slow-moving political soap opera, with many disconnected parts that somehow never seemed to add up for the one final push that would establish him and his people firmly in the seat of power.
In the simplest terms, he took way too long to entrench himself and for his people to deliver the coup de grace to political adversaries, especially the one that counted the most. On the other hand, the man written off, given up for dead politically, is making a comeback; a coup a Wall Street Journal editorial dated January 6th named it. In fact, the finishing touches are all that is left to put into place. It is almost official.
The Americans are currently occupied elsewhere and otherwise. That is going to remain so for the immediate future, which affords Señor Nicolás Maduro, more than the breathing space that he needs to get back on his feet.
Like his political foe, Señor Guaido, it took too long for the ousting of Señor Maduro, with stops and starts, a leadership vacuum, and failed superpower grasp of what was really required to be rid of the man.
For his part, Señor Maduro must be recognized for his political durability under circumstances that, at times, left him in extremis. Yes, things were that bleak in his corner for an extended period. But he stayed the course and wore down his opponents, both domestic and foreign. There are some hard and commonsense lessons from all of these developments in a neighbourhood that always seemed riddled with contradictions and lack of clarity.
The first thing that this does make clear is that sturdy foreign policy, visionary superpower regional priorities, are not run on, or driven by, leadership bluster and the reflex of frivolous and puerile reliance on Twitter and the Sturm und Drang that are prompted by such one-line follies.
The business of global leadership calls for endless maturity, growing on the job, parsing for a pathway out of the morass, and responsibility of the highest order. All of these leadership elements must also be manifested, not in a haphazard, occasional manner. They must be part and parcel of a leadership package that is unruffled, concentrated, and one that caters for all the main ingredients, plus the many errant loose ends that must be accounted for, and which left unaddressed usually undermines.
This is what occurred, to some extent, in Venezuela. It shows the limited effect of sanctions, especially when there are ideological and political brethren, who step forward to lend a hand, while protecting their billion-dollar stakes. Also, it demonstrates what a wily operator could do to weather the storm and outlast opponents.
Señor Maduro manifested that he has what it takes to roll with whatever punches were thrown his way and emerge in one piece. Now there is talk that the democratic process has failed and that violence looms, and the US is still recognizing Señor Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader (WSJ editorial January 7th).
With this as context, Señor Maduro’s road is steep, as he is not out the woods, but undoubtedly, he is on the rise, while his fellows are heading in the opposite direction. It follows that one of his priorities has to be what is unfolding here with oil discoveries and oil production narratives, now settled national realities.
Señor Maduro’s first order of business, of necessity, would be to consolidate his power, to revive his oil sector. His enemies may not be ready to throw in the towel right away, but it is expected that he will deal with them ruthlessly.
As he surveys oil Guyana, the expectation here is that his contemplations are not going to be benevolent, but mainly hostile. It is an eventuality that must be prepared for, and only the utmost in vigilance must characterize Guyanese relations with him.
The mechanisms – for which this country paid dearly – are in place and on autopilot. This country cannot engage; it has to allow its arrangements to deliver, regardless of what pertains in Venezuela. Meanwhile, Guyana has to get its own political story together, which might prove much more difficult.
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