Posts Tagged ‘smart diplomacy’

El Pollo and Venezuela’s game of chicken: Venezuela exerted military pressure on Aruba

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

In today’s WSJ, Aruba: Venezuela Pressured It Militarily
The Netherlands’ release of a former top Venezuelan official wanted by the U.S. for alleged drug trafficking came after Venezuela raised economic and military pressure on two Dutch islands in the Caribbean, officials said.

Aruba’s chief prosecutor Peter Blanken said that Venezuelan navy ships neared Aruba and Curaçao over the weekend as Dutch officials were debating what to do with Hugo Carvajal —Venezuela’s former chief of military intelligence who was jailed in Aruba last week on a U.S. warrant.

“The threat was there,” Mr. Blanken said. “We don’t know what their intentions were, but I think a lot of people in Aruba were scared that something would happen.”

Holland is a member of NATO and as such Aruba would be protected, as WSJ commenter Donald Hutchinson points out, but, in the Obama administration’s era of “smart diplomacy”, the Dutch couldn’t count on that:

Assuming that US intelligence was not asleep, all,it would take would be a fly over by US Navy jets and a notification that any offensive action would be met by the immediate destruction of their ships. Holland is a member of NATO and such actioned would clearly be sanctioned,
It would also be a devastating set back to the former bus driver running Venezuela for bringing shame to their military.
But what one might expect from a timid White House and a preoccupied State Department?

Then there’s the oil,

Mr. Blanken said Venezuela’s government also had threatened to sever Venezuela’s vital commercial air links to Aruba and Curaçao. Venezuela’s state oil company also threatened to withdraw from a contract to manage Curaçao’s refinery, Mr. Blanken said, which would have put at risk some 8,000 jobs.

To put that number of jobs in perspective, Aruba’s total population is 103,009.

In the “no sh*t, Sherlock” file, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman’s reaction was, “This is not the way law enforcement matters should be handled.” At least they didn’t #hashtag it.

Hugo Carvajal a.k.a. “”el Pollo” is one of the guys who took part in Hugo Chávez’s unsuccessful 1992 military coup, later rising to the rank of general, but with a sideline,

Mr. Carvajal’s role as one of the Chávez government’s key liaisons to guerrillas from Colombia’s Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, emerged after computers belonging to a slain guerrilla leader were captured by Colombian security forces in 2008.

Here’s the indictment in the U.S. District Court accusing Carvajal of coordinating the transport of 5,600 kilos (6.17 tons) of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico.

In addition to good’ol military thuggery, Miguel Octavio asserts that the Netherlands caved in (emphasis added):

Clearly, everyone applied pressure, but the weak link did not turn out to be Aruba as I suggested on my first post, but rather The Netherlands, as reportedly even Russia played a role, exchanging concessions on the Ucraine plane for helping release Carvajal. No matter what anyone says or how this is interpreted, it was a severe blow to the US, who would have loved to get Carvajal onshore.

One of my sources also mentions that team Obama had about 30 days to hand over its Extradition Request to Aruba but failed to; the Treasury Dept, the DEA and a U.S. District Court (mentioned above) had indicted him last year. It reminds me of drug kingpin Walid Makled, who was released to Venezuela by Santos of Colombia after the U.S. dragged its feet.

We’re in the best of hands.

PS,
While the Dutch allow Carvajal diplomatic immunity, the Egyptians search Secretary of State John Kerry, which was no biggie, but he fumes over Israel’s criticism.

Case study in “smart diplomacy”: Bolivia

Friday, July 25th, 2014

My latest article, Case study in “smart diplomacy”: Bolivia, is up at Da Tech Guy Blog.

“Smart diplomacy”: Ambassador to Argentina may not even speak Spanish

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

But he is fluent in Crony.

Yeah, the guy who never set foot in Argentina doesn’t even speak Spanish:

I suggest he invest some of the $1million he bundled in a Berlitz immersion course.

On second thought, if anyone wants to petition for me to be ambassador to Argentina. I’m open!

Obama bows to Raul Castro

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Having bowed to Mexico’s then-president Felipe Calderon, children in Mumbai, a couple visiting Japan’s Great Buddha, Saudi King Abdullah,

Queen Elizabeth, Viktor Yushchenko,

the Emperor Akihito of Japan,

the mayor of Tampa,

Chris Cristie,

and Hu Jintao,

President Obama, now in South Africa for the Nelson Mandela funeral, continues his policy of “smart diplomacy through obeisance” by bowing to Cuban Communist dictator Raul Castro:

For educational purposes, here’s the Obama Bow/Grovel Guage for the Common Citizen:

UPDATE:
Linked to by MOTUS. Thank you!

At Drudge:
Obama greets Cuban strongman with handshake…
‘Castro, he’s shaking hands with Raul Castro!’
CNN Defends: ‘Not to Be Misunderstood’…
CARTER: ‘Hope it will be omen for future’…
RUBIO: ‘Castro regime sponsors terrorism abroad and against their own people’…


NSA spying: Mexico & Brazil not amused UPDATED

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Brazil senate committee to probe US spying

Brazil’s senate has formed an Investigative Parliamentary Commission to follow up on reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

The committee, comprising 11 main members and seven substitutes, initially has 180 days to investigate claims that the NSA monitored emails between Rousseff and several of her top aides, and tapped her phone.

The investigative period can be extended by another 180 days if the commission needs more time.

They may also consider providing federal protection for Rio de Janeiro-based Glenn Greenwald and his partner David Miranda.

Over in Mexico, Mexico Summons U.S. Ambassador, Seeking Answers To Spying Claims

Mexico’s foreign ministry says that “alleged espionage activity involving Mexican citizens” is against international law and the charter of the United Nations.

Relations with Mexico have been strained following the Fast and Furious revelations.

UPDATE:
The Diplomad:

As I noted about the French, the Brazilians, especially, should keep quiet about espionage. They have an active intel organization which collects on foreigners and Brazilians in touch with foreigners. Whenever I was in Brazil, we always assumed our phones were tapped and, on occasion, being followed.

Chill, my Latin brothers, chill.

Venezuela: The lifeline, the triple currency

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

First, the triple currency:
Carlos Eire posts on how Maduro Institutionalizes Cuban-Style Economic Chaos in Caracastan

The Venezuelan currency — the Bolivar — has now been assigned three different values by Maduro’s economic ministers.

The official name for this institutionalized chaos is “Sistema Complementario de Divisas (Sicad)”.

This new “Sicad” system in Caracastan is much more than an open display of the Castronoid obsessios with acronyms for destructive and repressive government programs: it’s an acknowledgment of the existence of a black market. Under “Sicad” the Bolivar will have three distinct exchange rates. Right now, depending on what kind of financial transaction one is making, the Bolivar will be worth 10 cents on a US Dollar, or 6.3 cents on a US Dollar, or 3 cents on a US Dollar. The lowest of these three values is the real value of the Bolivar, for that is the value pegged to the black market, which is euphemistically referred to as the “parallel” market.

The purpose is to obscure the devalued currency’s worth so no one knows its worth.

Spain’s ABC has much more (in Spanish) on the 3-card Monty; the also point out that Argentina’s got the official and the black market rates. Clarín (in Spanish) has more on Argentina’s double currency.

And the lifeline,
Venezuela gets a lifeline from the United States

One government, however, has chosen to toss Mr. Maduro a lifeline: the United States. Last week Secretary of State John F. Kerry took time to meet Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua on the sidelines of an Organization of American States meeting, then announced that the Obama administration would like to “find a new way forward” with the Maduro administration and “quickly move to the appointment of ambassadors.” Mr. Kerry even thanked Mr. Maduro for “taking steps toward this encounter” — words that the state-run media trumpeted.

What did Mr. Maduro do to earn this assistance from Mr. Kerry? Since Mr. Chávez’s death in March, the Venezuelan leader has repeatedly used the United States as a foil. He expelled two U.S. military attaches posted at the embassy in Caracas, claiming that they were trying to destabilize the country; he claimed the CIA was provoking violence in order to justify an invasion; and he called President Obama “the big boss of the devils.” A U.S. filmmaker, Timothy Tracy, was arrested and charged with plotting against the government — a ludicrous allegation that was backed with no evidence. Though Mr. Tracy was put on a plane to Miami on the day of the Kerry-Jaua encounter, Mr. Kerry agreed to the meeting before that gesture.

As I mentioned last week, the Tracy kidnapping worked.


Venezuela: The kidnapping worked

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Imagine, if you may, this sequence of events:

  • Dictator dies
  • Dictatorship expels superpower military attaches in March the same day dictator dies
  • Dictatorship perpetuates (or at least attempts to perpetuate) itself through electoral fraud
  • Superpower ignores election results
  • Big OAS pow-wow date looms on the horizon
  • Dictatorship kidnaps citizen of superpower
  • Behind-the-scenes deal takes place
  • To add urgency, the dictatorship places the citizen of the superpower in one of the most dangerous jails in our hemisphere
  • Citizen is released and returned
  • Superpower’s Secretary of State and dictatorship’s foreign minister get together for photo-op
  • Everybody’s happy

You don’t think that’s what happened in the Timothy Tracy case?

Think again:

John Kerry Meets With Venezuela’s Foreign Minister; Talk Of Improving Relations

On his first trip to Latin America since taking office, Kerry said he was hopeful that a rapprochement could be achieved. The meeting, which came at Venezuela’s request, took place just hours after Venezuela released from prison an American filmmaker who had been jailed on espionage charges, removing an immediate irritant in the relationship.

Meanwhile, in a speech to the 35-member OAS annual general assembly, Kerry did not mention the developments with Venezuela, but reiterated U.S. concerns that some countries in the hemisphere are backsliding on their commitments to democracy and seeking to weaken OAS institutions that monitor and report on human rights.

Any questions?

UPDATE:
Linked by Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!


Cuba: US won’t swap 5 spies for Alan Gross

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Alan Gross, the American prisoner held in Cuba, won’t be released soon; he was arrested on December 3, 2009, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
US official rejects Cuba’s offer to swap contractor Alan Gross for 5 Cuban spies

Cuba’s offer to swap U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross for five Cuban spies convicted in Miami is not at all acceptable to Washington, a senior State Department official affirmed Monday on the third anniversary of Gross’ arrest.

Asked directly if a Gross-for-spies swap might be possible during President Barack Obama’s next four years in the White House, the official replied, “No, I don’t think so.”

“We reject the notion of linkage,” added the official, who met with several journalists in Miami but asked for anonymity under State Department procedures. “There is no parallel between the two cases.”

The US has put very little pressure on Cuba. Historically, the Communist regime ignores “pressure.”

Gross’s supporters

, called Friday on the U.S. government to send a high-level envoy to Havana and seek release of the ailing humanitarian worker.

The Gross family is also suing both the U.S. Agency for International Development and its contractor DAI, which sent him to Cuba, charging they failed to properly train and prepare him for a mission they likely knew was high-risk and possibly violated Cuban laws.

Neither agency has paid his salary to his wife and family while he has been for three years sharing a small cell with two other prisoners in a Cuban military jail for handing out Internet hardware and software to the small Cuban Jewish community — a USAID project aimed at moving the communist-ruled island nation toward democracy.

Alan Gross, 63, has lost over 100lbs and has a large lump growing on his back, which under the “excellent free healthcare” Cubans endure are considered “chronic illnesses that are typical of his age.”

Or, as they say in Cuba, achaques de la edad.

This is what he looked like before his imprisonment,

This is what he looks like now,

The Obama administration’s handling of the Gross case telegraphs a message: Ben Barber

When I served on U.S. aid projects overseas in places such as Yemen, Egypt and Pakistan, I was certain that in case I should be kidnapped or arrested that the U.S. government would stand by me and my colleagues in the field. Failure to do so in the case of Gross sends a devastating signal to thousands of Americans working overseas on U.S.-funded assistance projects.

In fact when I searched the USAID website for evidence it has vigorously tried to help Gross get out of jail, I found only one bland paragraph inside a speech before Congress by the Latin America assistant administrator Mark Feierstein on March 29.

Smart diplomacy, so smart it reminds us of Benghazi.

Cross-posted at Fausta’s blog.


10 ways Chavez has presented a national security threat

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Venezuela and Chavez: President Obama Should Read His Intelligence Brief


  • Iran.
     Venezuela’s military and security relations with Iran show no sign of diminishing; drones, military exchanges, preparation for asymmetric warfare are a few milestones of the anti-American Axis of Unity. In May 2011, the U.S. sanctioned Venezuela’s national oil company PDVSA. Many believe that this was just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Syria. Chavez backs Syria’s murderous Bashar al-Assad to the hilt.
  • Cuba. Chavez’s aid to Cuba’s Castro regime (nominally in exchange for doctors and intelligence personnel) exceeds $5 billion annually—more than double the U.S. assistance budget for all of Latin America—and enables the communist regime to survive and to repress the Cuban people.
  • A terrorist haven. Chavez has rolled out the welcome mat to a host of terrorist organizations, includingHezbollah and the Basque ETA.
  • A mafia state. Moises Naim writes that “senior Venezuelan government officials double as the heads of important transnational criminal gangs.” The U.S. described Chavez’s defense minister, General Henry Rangel Silva, as a drug kingpin in 2008.
  • Higher gas prices. In OPEC, Chavez is a price hawk; he is mismanaging PDVSA—reducing global supply—and expropriates billions from U.S. companies, raising costs to U.S. consumers.
  • Narco-terrorism in Colombia. Chavez identifies with and supports the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, whose leader, Timochenko, is believed to operate from a safe haven in Venezuela. Since 1999, the U.S. has invested $7 billion in Colombian democracy and security; Chavez prefers a Colombia ruled by narco-terrorists.
  • Militarizing Venezuela. From Russian arms purchases to arming militias, Chavez militarizes Venezuelan society, threatens civil war, and endangers regional security.
  • Corruption. With aid packages, oil deals, and cash-filled suitcases, Chavez corrupts freely and widely.
  • Destabilization. Chavez backs left-wing leaders and destabilizes weak democracies, as he did inHonduras in 2009 and in Paraguay in 2012.

And let’s not forget that Chavez gave Iran the Astinave port (in Venezuela’s geographic point nearest to the USA and the Panama Canal), and an F-16 so Iran could test its antiaircraft radar systems and become familiar with its capabilities, in preparation for a possible strike.

Romney Condemns Obama View of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez as Harmless, while, At the daily White House press briefing, Jay Carney couldn’t even come up with a response to a question about Obama’s remark.

Smart diplomacy: As global leaders gather in Mexico, Obama chews gum

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

At least this time he didn’t wave: As global leaders gather, Obama chews gum

Low rent?

Apparently, despite being surrounded by twenty other world leaders, President Barack Obama “was chewing gum the whole time.”

Nah, Nicorette.