It was a bold move by Cuba’s Castro dictatorship to colonize Venezuela, a much larger country with infinitely more natural resources. But as the tragedy in Venezuela unfolds, it appears the Cuban dictatorship may have bitten off more than it can chew.
Cubazuela’s Diplomatic Debacle
Cubazuela’s diplomatic strategy to bolster the Maduro regime had several footholds: the complicity of Federica Mogherini, the PSOE under Pedro Sánchez, AMLO in Mexico and the Government of Uruguay. Together they have worked with Havana on a containment strategy to impede humanitarian intervention and ensure that any sanctions are more symbolic than effective.
But this approach required scenarios rendering credible the contentions that half or more of Venezuela ‘s problems stem from the opposition’s “stubbornness” and the “cruelty” of the external sanctions. To legitimize these specious suggestions, the “dialogue in Oslo” was convened. Meanwhile, they undertook the task of securing a “neutral” report from the UN Human Rights Commission, which they hoped would point to external sanctions and the opposition as guilty parties.
The Venezuelan opposition is familiar, based on first-hand experience, that “dialogue” with the dictatorship is a farce. But it could not afford to project the image of obstinacy that the Maduro regime had tried to pin on them.
When a dictator agrees to talks, he thinks, first and foremost, about buying time, burnishing his image, and using it to divide the other side. The Venezuelan opposition is not stupid, and they know this. It was a calculated risk, but a risk in the end, and, incidentally, a big one. They decided to run it.
The diplomatic strategy devised in Cuba to whitewash the Maduro regime did not work out as international negotiators had hoped. The attempt at talks in Oslo evolved into preliminary talks on a single question: Maduro’s departure, and the proposal to open Venezuela up to a visit by the United Nations Human Rights Commission ended up further tarnishing the regime’s already sullied reputation.
Cuba’s diplomatic strategy suffered a crisis due to two miscalculations.
The first was that Guaidó – at least for now – managed to deftly turn the tables on the regime. He agreed to meet to converse – which is not equivalent as a dialogue or negotiations – in order to project his own constructive image and study, throughout the exercise, the other side’s contradictions and weaknesses.
Havana’s second misstep was to believe that the leftist Michelle Bachelet would control and revise the content of the report written by her experts to give Havana what it needed. But, faced with what was a devastating report, that meant taking personal responsibility for exonerating the Maduro regime, which was too much to ask. Thus, this second element of Cuban diplomatic strategy backfired and shattered.
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