The Standoff Over Food and Power in Venezuela


From the New York Times. I'm Michael Varvara. This is the date. Today. The crisis in Venezuela is worse as president Madero were fuses to give power and is blocking food from entering the country as his people star why in Medeiros mine giving up control of food is giving up out. It's Monday, February eleven. Nikki where are you right now? I'm on the border of Venezuela. I'm on the Colombian side of the border. She's become one of the ground zeroes of this crisis. This is where hundreds of thousands of people Venezuelans have crossed the border looking for food because there isn't any on the other side of the border. Nick case covers South America for the times. People don't have food. They don't have medicines that they need. And just this week. What you see here? The first shipment of what we hope will be a great flood humanitarian relief for the people of Venezuela. A large shipment of aid came from the United States truckloads of food and supplies arrived that the Venezuelan border with Colombia today food and medicine on display in Kuku Columbia. It's housands of bags and boxes with food and medicine for Venezuelan people right on the border with neighboring his way. This is just a beginning. And it's sitting on the border, but between that aid. And Venezuela is blockade that's been set up by nNcholas Maduro, the president appears to termined to keep the foreign aid out. He's blocked this aid from getting in with tanker with a couple of shipping containers. It looks like it's troops on it through. And it sent the message that he does not want it coming into his country. The message from President Nicolas muddle, stay out. Nick, why would the president of NS Walea block badly-needed food from entering his own country? Not, but as it will allow the jurors said that Venezuelans aren't beggars simply as that. But one of the things he seems to be most worried about is the possibility that this is a trick for him. If these are historic days who says that could decide between war and peace. We demand the end of US aggression and threats of military intervention that this aid is coming in as something which looks like a gift, but is actually some kind of Trojan horse being sent to stabilize him to overthrow him alternately. He's suggesting that the food is not actually humanitarian aid. It's a trick. Even though that sounds farfetched. Yes, it seems extremely farfetched because there's millions of people suffering and without food on the other side of the border. But when you look back not just in Venezuela. But also in Latin America large, you see a long history of the US meddling in this region. And overthrowing people that doesn't want to be in charge. The first important thing, you can do is to be sure, you know, what communism really is. And how socialism ties with it? In other words know your enemy. So it's hard to say exactly where it begins because there's so many examples throughout this region. But the time that it really started to pick up was the Cold War. These were the years after World War Two when communism and capitalism were at their loggerheads and Latin America had become the big chessboard for the to the first week of a year when Astros revolution overthrew raging. So this was a time where Latin Americans were trying to decide with they were going to throw their lot with the United States or with Russia. So at this stage, the US starts to get involved in these countries directly in their elections in their democracies in subtle ways in overt ways. And one of the most extreme examples of this chilly at nineteen three. Nineteen Seventy-three chilly. It began with the election of of Salvador Allende. Who was from the left and had a very clear vision for where he wants to take the country. If. Our political Mundo like the soccer, our one that Richard Nixon who was president of the time deeply disagreed with early on Nixon said, Shelly, of course, is interested in obtaining loans, from international organizations where we have a vote that the only way to deal with it was to make the Chilean economy scream, and I ended the wherever we had a vote where Chile was involved that unless there were strong considerations on the other side that we would vote against the US was looking for ways to get rid of IN day from the moment, he stepped the presidential palace. And this all came to a head in September nineteen Seventy-three when after all of this destabilization that the US had backed a group of military officers decided that they were going to take charge. This began with an assault on the presidential palace. La Moneda, which everybody in Chile who was alive remembers. They remember seeing the pictures of the smoke coming up from the presidential palace. Like if you'd seen smoke coming up from the White House because it had been attacked by armed force. Shortly afterward. I n d shot himself dead in the president for pas, and that was the end of democracy in truly knock one dot. Got it. Please. A military junta took charge and the US recognized it this laid the foundation for one of the most famous dictatorships in Latin America, which was the dictatorship of Costa Pinochet. That on reversal. Her own. This government started to round up anyone who was seen as one of its political opponents and took them to the national stadium where the began torturing them. I so quiet about brutality. I've seen a man with three men with guns on and then disappearing for a little while into the shade of the back of the stadium into a room in the back of the stadium. And then we saw some innate just could make nothing carried out. This is some of the darkest days that Chile had, but at the same time truly hit become one of America's closest allies in America for the lions with a man who had become their dictator. So what began as a US effort to oust I n day because Nixon fear that he leaned too much toward Russia ends up leading to the rise of a replacement who is by all accounts, much, more dangerous and destructive to the people of July. And that was just one example of where the US tried to Termine the fate. Of a country in Latin America, it was high Khobar Benz goose mine in nineteen fifty four Guatemala leftists who overthrown by CIA back to coup. Backfire power have compelled the hosting of what I'm Allah's pro-communist regime. There was the bay of pigs which was ordered by JFK when they tried to use Cuban exiles to invade Cuba. Ulan revolutionary troops such as these heaven needed Castro's left us there the contras in Nicaragua these right wing paramilitary groups that were being funneled money from the Reagan administration to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua to many phone of Central America's just that place way down below Mexico that can't possibly constitute a threat to our wellbeing. There was the overthrow of Manuel Noriega Panama in the late nineteen eighty s to protect the integrity of the Panama, Canal treaties, and to Brig geN Manuel Noriega to Justice. And there was even Venezuela self in two thousand and two when there was a coup against you who charges president Medeiros predecessor. Minnesota. Swen allah. And I didn't have to remind us what happened back then Walea. So Hugo Travis had been elected democratically in one thousand nine hundred. Go money out of you. Don't my decoy. No more. I started to take a hard turn toward the left. And he was during to hit a lot of the historic trip wires with the US in December president new go Chuvash expropriated this four thousand hectare cattle ranch from Venezuela's wealthiest families. He was talking about land redistribution he wanted to take control of the state oh company. Now, remember Venezuela has the world's largest proven reserves of oil in it. So this is something that was making the US perk-up. And this was the man who eventually would go to the UN and say that George W Bush was the devil and that he could still smell the sulfur on the podium. Willie? I sue for it. Here president of Sony. Oh, hockey and your LDL. This was someone who is setting himself up in direct conflict with the United States and making no bones about that. And so what does the US too? So. Marketers meal is personas que est copy Talbani salon, and there was talk of a coup that was coming in Caracas. Now, interestingly enough, there's a CIA document which showed that they weren't interested in this. They didn't think that KU was going to work the United States officials explicitly make clear repeatedly. Two opposition leaders at the United States would not support a coup, and they were only going to support a democratic solution. But in April of two thousand and two massive protests develop on the streets of Caracas. And those end up right in front of the presidential palace. And there's bloodshed there. At that point the military stepped in and said, we're taking charge of this country. Travis has lost control. Mealy? Our milder than fully. Countries across Latin America were saying we can't support this coup. Now when people ask the US immediately. What do you think of this? What's what's happening in Venezuela? The US didn't tell the world of what it had told those that were planning the coup originally, it said that it supported the new president, and that this was the only way to head towards democracy in Venezuela. Let me share with you. The ministrations thoughts about what's taking place in Venezuela that remains of somewhat fluid situation. But yesterday's events and Venezuela resulted in a change in the government and the assumption of transitional authority until new elections can be held the details. Still around clear, we know that the action encouraged by the shabas government provoked this crisis essentially backing coup that had taken place in the country. According to the best information available. Shabas government, suppressed, peaceful, demonstrations government, supporters on orders from the Chevy government fired on unarmed, peaceful protesters resulting in ten killed and one hundred wounded it turned out to be a mistake. Because within days Travis being deposed supporters came down from the bar goes and said. This isn't what we asked for surrounded the president of house again and Travis was returned to power. Venezuela. Dna soda. This. About. Navy talk. And the US ended up in the position where it not only supported the person that didn't become president. But it also supported yet another coup in Latin America, Nick, y so long after the Cold War, which basically ends in the early nineteen nineties would the United States play any meaningful role in the fate of a country like Venezuela. You know, it looked like the temptation of being a a superpower was just too great. They had the chance to influence the course of a country's history. And they took it and the president address that this morning in the Oval Office when he said that there's a lesson to be learned. It's a question will present shabas learned the lesson. So the irony of all of this is that in supporting this coup the US gave charges the tools to make America the boogeyman and actually start his very radical project of transforming Venezuela. He purged the military. He set up parallel parts of the governor. And he also laid the groundwork which Madero started using when he became president to completely undermine Venezuela's democracy and set into motion the crisis that we've got today. So how do these historical examples factor into Medeiros thinking in this moment two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government event as Walea and its new president. Long these have gone to be Medeiros nightmares right now. He was growing up when this happened with Salvador Allende, he was in the government win. This happened to Hugo Travis these are the points of reference that he has when he sees the US at his doorstep recognizing his rival, and we condemn the brutality of the Madero regime. Dozens of countries come out port way, though, saying that they don't recognize Maduro anymore. This must be what's going through his head. And is he right to think that is it fair to compare it? What's going on that with Chile or with shovels who the hard question in Medeiros head? It's probably a fair comparison, but Madero isn't a yen day. And he's not Hugo Chavez Salvadorian days daughter came out, recently and said Madero. Is not like my father don't make that comparison. Salvador Allende was democratically elected, Hugo Chavez was democratically elected. We're not talking about a democratically elected leader who is trying to lead a transformation of his country. Retiring about someone who's desperate and trying to hang onto power Madero in order to win reelection head to ban all his closest rivals from even participating. They've put out a rest warrants against members of the opposition the crackdown on protesters when they come out into the streets. If killed scores of people so Madero is right to fear that the US is trying to undermine him. But he's wrong in seeing himself in the tradition of AMD as a democratically elected leader who the US is trying to house te. Yes, what is the same? Here is that the US has gotten invested once again in regime chain and the weapon that they're wielding right now is food food that. They want to cross the border to go into the hands of Mr. Medeiros rivals for those rivals to be seen as legitimate government of the country because they can distribute the food and eventually for Madero to be toppled by all this. And what's interesting is that Madero has a history of using food as a weapon himself. His government is in charge of food distribution the country, especially for the poor. And during the last election, he repeatedly said that if he won reelection. He would give major food bonuses to poor areas. Especially those who had voted for him. He called his Dan Louis Dando, which in Spanish would mean, I give you give in other words, you give me your vote, and I give you the food. Wow. So he understands better than anyone that the person who controls the food is the one who controls the votes in the country, and it sounds like the US understands that just as well. Yeah, it's a lesson which definitely hasn't been lost on the US. So that's the thing that bothers mature of the most that's the thing that he's worried about when he's looking at those containers on the other side of the border. Self-declared? Interim president Quang Ngai door seems hopeful that he can provide what Malvo cannot while at the same time tempting the military to change sides. And if they don't there's a plan b. It all mean. I'm convinced it we will get the I through with Vinas walence people people and more people carrying the humanitarian aid people people and people making humanitarian corridor reality. But if the opposition fails that this this is going to have huge consequences for them. They've said they can open a humanitarian corridor into Venezuela. They've got Venezuelans hope of that. There might be food on their shelves that there might be milk in the refrigerator, they might have something to eat. And if they can't do that is not clear who's going to fall them and not clear, whether people are going to think of them the same way that they're thinking of Madero another politician that can't give them anything to eat. So that is why Madero is blocking this food. This is the meaning of the Trojan horse. He knows that if the food gets into the hands of his opponents and opponents begin distributing it to hungry this way Len's than they become the defacto governor. -ment and Madero could be seen as even less legitimate than before windows, a politician. And he knows the politically there's more at stake than just that food. But for the Venezuelan people for people who are hungry for people that I've talked to that have had to flee in his Walea. I've talked to many of these people they're not concerned about politics at that point. If you don't have food for your kids your thinking about whether you have something to eat in the morning, you're not thinking about that geopolitical chess game that's taking place at the border. If you're hungry. This is food. You just want to eat it. Right. You don't care about the politics of this. You just need something to eat. No make. Hoping for food or anything else for me. I want this aid to get in because people are dying. This annoys, Tom Moody, and Mr President, we are dying families are dying. In the days since the US declared its intention to replace nNcholas Maduro as president of Venice Walea. The Trump administration has appointed a special on void to the country who earlier in his career was deeply involved in some of America's most controversial Cold War activities in Latin America, the envoy Elliot Abrams pleaded guilty to withholding information from congress in the nineteen eighties about the Reagan administrations illegal scheme to fund the contras in Nicaragua and documents show that Abrahams. Also misled the public about human rights abuses in El Salvador, including the massacre of nearly one thousand civilians by US trained soldiers. You know, what's not smart the way hiring used to be job boards that overwhelm you with tons of the wrong resumes. Now, there's a smarter way at ZipRecruiter dot com slash daily. Ziprecruiter's powerful matching technology finds the right people for you and actively invites them to ply. It's no wonder that's recruiter is rated number one by employers in the US and right now listeners can try ZipRecruiter for free at ZipRecruiter dot com slash daily. That's ZipRecruiter dot com slash daily. Yours. What else you need to? Thank. To stall right now. I'm hoping we can get off the dime later today or in the morning because times taken away on Sunday negotiations over a long-term border security agreement between Democrats and Republicans appeared to break down increasing the odds of another government shutdown by the end of the week. We've got some problems with the Democrats dealing with ice that is detaining criminals that come into the US and they want to cap on them. We don't want to cap on that the seventeen house and Senate members charged with negotiating deal, including Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama have reached an impasse over how many undocumented immigrants the US can detain at any given time with Democrats demanding limits that Republicans will not accept under the temporary spending Bill has to end last month shutdown government funding will want out by Friday. Prompting acting White House chief of staff, Nick Mulvaney on meet the press to suggest that a shutdown was still quite possible. We cannot definitively rule out of government shutdown the end of this week, you absolutely cannot. They shut down entirely off the table the answers now. That's it for the daily. I'm michael. See you tomorrow. You're listening to the daily to be informed about the world smart move. Here's another smart move. Refinancing your student loan debt with first Republic Bank. First Republic has some of the lowest fixed rates in the country. Which means you could lower your monthly payments or shorten the time. It takes to pay off your debt, and with first Republic, you'll have access to a dedicated banker who will help you throughout the loan process and beyond now that you're in the know visit first Republic dot com slash S. L are today.

Coming up next