13 October 2007
Washington wants to live and let live with Caracas
It is obvious that Manuel Rosales is desperate, to put it mildly. Meeting with an American State Department official was bad enough, but trying to pressure him to take action against his own country's leader was stupidity of the highest order. Such calls only play into the Venezuelan government's hands, and it is interesting that the American response was to remind all and sundry that Venezuela's political debates are a matter for Venezuela. Furthermore, the Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Nations was told last month that Washington wanted to have good relations with Caracas, so why did Rosales make his plea?
It is possible that he had no other option. He lost last December's elections comprehensively, and the bulk of the Venezuelan population seem to be solidly behind President Hugo Chavez Frias and his reforms. Furthermore, Chavez Frias has neutralised the business interests that used to oppose his rule by reminding them that nationalisations will be the order of the day if they don't toe the line.
All the opposition can rely on is the small, local middle class - and they lack both the numbers and the balls to oppose the government. The last hope that they had was the possible arrival of the U.S. Marines. Alas for their hopes, the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan mean that there just aren't the troops available for another adventure. Besides, if the USA does attack Iran then Venezuela's oil is going to be doubly important on the world market.
The Americans may not be very happy with Caracas, but they do seem to be prepared to adopt a live and let live attitude. Tough shit is the message to Manuel Rosales and his tiny band of followers.