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April 13, 2016
From the riots on the streets of major Brazilian cities to the current protests taking place in Venezuela, the Latin Americans are finding their voices and speaking out against their governments. However, as the world’s press centre their attention on Venezuela and finding ways to get information on what is going on in Caracas, the press in Latin America have hardly even batted an eyelid. Venezuela’s crisis has been met with a deafening silence as the region’s economical and ideological ties to Caracas have shaped their mute coverage and opinion of the events taking place.
From the north of Mexico to the southern tip of Patagonia in Argentina, the majority of Latin American governments have remained emotionless as the news of the Venezuelan government violent crackdown on protestors’ echoes around the world in spite of the censorship of the country’s media. The lack of response in the region is mainly due to many of the nation’s ideological affinity with Venezuela as well as more obvious economic interests such as favourable oil prices. The weak condemnation of President Maduro’s actions has given the Venezuelan President heightened leeway allowing him to increase the pressure on his opponents. Former Mexican Foreign Minister, Jorge Castañeda supported this view stating, “There is no Latin American government that is going to lift a finger”.
Not all of the Latin American officials have kept quiet on the issue with a group of former officials from countries across the Americas circulated a statement condemning Venezuela for its repression of the protests and the detention of students and political leaders. Most notable of the 17 signers were the former Colombian President Andres Pastana, ex-leader of Peru, Alejandro Toledo and previous Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark. All urged the government of Venezuela to guarantee safe conditions for political protests and to free all detainees.
The more than tepid response from Latin America’s governments is down to the region’s continued romance with the leftist revolution in both its Cuban and Venezuelan forms. This show of solidarity and lack of response can also be translated into the ever-present anti-Americanism demonstrated in the region’s lack of critique of the Cuban revolution and Castro’s government.
Caracas has received open support by its strongest allies in the region, such as Argentina, Bolivia and Cuba all of whom have supported the Venezuelan government’s position that the protestors are intending to overthrow the government. Venezuela in turn has pointed its finger at the United States for the alleged conspiracy which the US has unsurprisingly denied. The outspoken support for Maduro could be seen on social media sites such as Twitter as both Latin American citizens and politicians voiced their opinions. In Argentina, Luis D’Elia, one of President Cristina Kirchner’s key political operators tweeted that Venezuela’s opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, “should be shot by a firing squad as an agent of the CIA”.
Even though, Brazil’s president, Dilma Rouseff, has sat on the fence on the topic of the violence in Venezuela, the Brazilianforeign ministry signed a statement expressing solidarity with Venezuela and called for dialogue between the different political forces in the country. Brazil’s Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and National Defence also seemed to endorse the Venezuelan government’s position of the protesters intending on undermining ‘democracy’ in Venezuela. The Brazilian alliance with Venezuela likely has something to do with the fact that Brazilian companies export hundreds of millions of dollars worth of frozen chicken to Venezuela whilst many of Brazil’s construction firms have projects all over Caracas.
Colombia’s government is currently concentrating on the negotiation of a peace treaty with the FARC communist guerrillas in Havana, which could end a fifty year-old civil war. Some Western diplomats have stated that they feel Colombia is showing support of Venezuela and Cuba in order to successfully conclude the negotiations. This support could be jeopardized if the Colombian government chose to take a strong position on the Venezuelan crisis.
Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli criticised and condemned the violence in Venezuela and called home Panama’s ambassador for talks and consultations about the crisis. Maduro was obviously not pleased with the action show against his regime and called the Panamanian President an interventionist. In spite of President Martinelli being part of what seems to be a minority in speaking out against Venezuela, if the violence continues and worsens, it will only be a matter of time before Venezuela’s neighbours are drawn in. With many of the countries in Latin America afraid to stand up to Venezuela due to the threat of having their oil cut off, they will soon be forced into deciding if they side with Maduro or stand up and recognise that the crisis in Venezuela is shocking and collective Latin American action has to be taken. Thanks for visiting the Latin Link blog! Contact us today for your free translation quote!