Rules of Engagement


My father used to tell me that “not all problems have solutions.” This is especially true regarding other people’s problems.

Venezuela’s problems do not have an easy solution. The current government has not managed the petroleum-based economy effectively, and it has sponsored reforms to the constitution that are producing tremendous blowback among a cross section of Venezuela’s society, understandably. Instead of decentralization and complexification, the model has been overly statist.

However, it is also true that the opposition to Venezuela’s government – domestic and international opposition – has absolutely nothing to offer, except a return to the very same neo-liberal, so-called capitalist-corporatist model that produced the revolution to begin with some 15 years ago.

In that model, democracy was something sold to the highest bidder. The rich used the oil economy as an ATM machine. The poor were left organizing anti-IMF riots – which were essentially food riots. Hence the revolution of Chavez gained ground. This revolution enjoyed its peak of popularity perhaps a decade ago. I was there for a week or so back in 2006 and the Chavistas were many, and they were optimistic.

Thus far, the Maduro administration does not seem able to offer up effective solutions to the problems facing Venezuela. But Washington is also bankrupt in terms of ideas. This is why Pres. Trump could only issue a veiled threat towards Venezuela.

Another veiled threat was offered up by Senator Marco Rubio, when he compared a Venezuelan lawmaker, Diosdado Cabello, to the famous drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Because the US and Colombian government publicly green lighted Escobar’s assassination, one might interpret Rubio’s comparison as a veiled threat. Maybe it was not so veiled, after all. Or maybe pampered senators are simply used to saying and doing whatever they want, on impulse, without thinking about potential consequences.

Now, speculation abounds that karma might circle around, and that Cabello contacted Mexican cartel members. The smartest thing Rubio could do would be to forget about Venezuela altogether, and to focus on some issue closer to home.

After all, even having one’s name delivered to the Sinaloa cartel, for example, in a book of death, opens the door to extremely bad luck (at the very least). There is cultish witchcraft attached. That was my impression when I lived in northern Mexico briefly in 2013, when I came to know a cartel attorney on friendly terms (who had managed to re-possess a confiscated plane from under the Mexican government’s nose). A friend of a friend, in the same office complex. Some of his associates, whom I avoided, were less buttoned-down.

Personally, I do not think Cabello has earned the right to write anyone’s name in a book of death. Rubio was simply grandstanding for Florida’s Hispanic voters.

In a perfect world everyone simply calms down, and minds their own business.

Meantime, it is important to note that Venezuela lies at the edge of the entire paradigm, straining the capacity of any political system to operate effectively, be it socialist or capitalist.

The Venezuelan government is struggling; the opposition has nothing to offer.

My father was right about how some problems do not have solutions.

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