WaPo OP/ED: A ‘Hard Hand’ in Venezuela 2

By Washington Post Editorial Board

ANY DOUBT that new Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro is taking his cues from Cuba should have been dispelled by events over the weekend. As Mr. Maduro huddled with the Castro brothers in Havana and recommitted Venezuela to the heavy subsidies that keep the Cuban economy afloat, his functionaries back in Caracas made two announcements: first, that a promised audit of the questionable election that ratified Mr. Maduro as the successor to Hugo Chavez would be perfunctory, excluding the materials that the opposition says would show evidence of fraud; and second, that a 35-year-oldU.S. filmmaker arrested last week on ludicrous accusations of espionage had been criminally charged.

The dog-eared Castro playbook calls for distracting the public at times of crisis with crude anti-Americanism — and taking hostages who can be used for leverage with Washington. For more than three years, Cuba has been holding Alan P. Gross, a Bethesda-based contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, on patently false espionage charges, in the hope that he can swapped for five confessed Cuban spies imprisoned or paroled in the United States.

Now Mr. Maduro has his own “gringo,” as he called him: Timothy Tracy, a Hollywood-based documentary maker who spent several months interviewing Chavez militants and opposition students before he was abruptly arrested at the airport last Wednesday. Unlike Mr. Gross, who was hired by USAID to deliver Internet equipment to Cuba’s Jewish community, Mr. Tracy was not working for any U.S. agency, as the State Department quickly made clear. Friends described him as a naif who barely speaks Spanish.

Mr. Maduro and the regime’s propaganda apparatus are nevertheless portraying him as a sinister secret agent who was financing “violent groups” to provoke “a civil war.” That, claimed Interior and Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez, “would lead to the intervention of a foreign power to bring order to the country.” Fear of a U.S. invasion? Another Castro cliché.

The real danger in Venezuela is not that an Obama administration unwilling to provide leadership in Syria would make any serious attempt to prevent Mr. Maduro’s consolidation of power. It is that Mr. Maduro will follow up on his jailing of an innocent American with a full-scale crackdown on the opposition. Government spokesmen have taken to calling Henrique Capriles, who challenged Mr. Maduro in the presidential election and demanded an audit of the results, a “fascist murderer”; the prisons minister said she has a cell waiting for him.

On Saturday, authorities arrested a retired general, Antonio Rivero, who — no surprise — is known for his denunciations of Cuban infiltration of the Venezuelan military. Mr. Maduro keeps promising he will soon apply “mano dura,” or a hard hand — a phrase that has been a favorite of Latin strongmen ranging from Anastasio Somoza to Augusto Pinochet.

Mr. Maduro and his Cuban tutors will likely watch to see if there is any substantial response from the Obama administration or other South American governments to the seizing of Mr. Tracy. If there is not, don’t be surprised to see Venezuela’s jails filled by Mr. Capriles and other political prisoners.

2 comments

  1. I already knew that Venezuela’s maduro was going to react this way because he has been instructed in Havana Cuba to react the same way as his puppeteers have reacted for 54 years.I have already said that if you cut the head,the rear will follow the head.If Venezuela would fall,The Castro regime will follow,Why?Simple mathematics,Who subsides Castro’s economy?Who provides Cuba with 100,000 barrels of the precious oil needed to run Castro’s mediocre economy?Venezuela.Image,if our Government had just spent a little bit of more time been more aggressive to prevent Chavez Communist Coup,at this time we would not be entangled battling the quagmire we have faced .We are in need of a leader like Ronald Reagan but I guess they are very hard to come by.

  2. Cuba has,with the help of Venezuela Staged the communist take gradual communist take over of the whole entire South American continent,with the help of their spy Ana Montes which helped to steer our policy in a different direction due to the wrong Analysis provided by this spy in service of the Castro tyranny.Or nation should keep Cuba in the list of terrorist countries indefinite until their communist tyrannic government cease to exist.We must understand that the Hungry South American left can not guide themselves forward and they need Cuba as a mentor.

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