Today (09/09/2015) the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, through its foreign affair office, has published a very interesting article named «The truth about the Venezuela-Colombia border situation», in the very famous american newspaper The New York Times.
But, unlike what some employees of the Venezuelan government have appointed, this article is not a work of research of any of the famous newspaper journalists, no, it is actually a paid advertisement, that (with a full-page extension) might have costed at least U$104.000 (Source: Billfold), money equivalent to 14.000 full monthly minimum wages in that South American country.
That advertisement has no other purpose than to provoke a negative reaction among the American people against Colombia, a country that in the last two decades has been a loyal ally to the United States, clashing with the Venezuelan constant statements against America, including signing war deals with countries as Russia and Iran. Nicolás Maduro himself have stated in several times that the United States is «an historical enemy of our country» (Watch video).
Keeping a compromise with the truth, this article has as its ultimate goal to provide another perspective of the matter, by the right of reply and the freedom of speech. All of the statements are supported in several press articles with links in blue.
Is Venezuela really a victim?
Indeed, Colombia has been involved for almost sixty years in a conflict between the democratic institutions and guerrilla groups, funded by the illegal trade of drugs and selective kidnappings. These groups, including FARC and ELN have been part of the international lists of terrorist organizations, including the European Union and the United States. But in this situation, Venezuela has not been exactly the victim as they usually proclaim.
Just as The Economist points, Venezuela has been an accomplice of these groups, becoming the starting point of hundreds (if not thousands) of routes of drugs transportation through the Caribbean with the United States as final destination. This is possible not only with the complicity of Venezuelan authorities but also with their direct participation.
All the combined efforts of Colombian and American agencies are undermined by the persistent rejections of the Venezuela government to cooperate. This is easily explained when it is known that several names of the Nicolas Maduro’s payroll are involved in the named «Cartel de los soles», responsible for sending thousands tons of drugs to Europe and the United States, just as the very New York Times has stated.
So, why did Venezuela close the border?
Even when it is truth that some members of the National Venezuelan Guard (NVG) were murdered close to the border shared with Colombia, what it is not truth is that Colombia is the ultimate responsible. Members of the NVG have been involved with the guerrillas in the process of taking the drugs cultivated in Colombia to the ports of Venezuela, but some groups of BACRIM (Criminal bands) have claimed a cut of these illegal earning, and this clash is the real reason why the mentioned agents were murdered.
The ad-article very wisely pointed the «numerous efforts» of Venezuela to support the peace in Colombia, mentioning the participation of Venezuela in the release of several «retained people» (the word you are looking for is kidnapped), but the real interest of Venezuela with those efforts is to extend its area of economic influence under the umbrella name «El Socialismo del Siglo XXI» (Socialism of the 21st Century). In fact, some of these «efforts» had to be called out, because the Venezuelan authorities were pretending to give orders to Colombian army officers.
What it is not mentioned in this article is that this «Socialism of the 21st Century» has condemned the whole venezuelan people to a increasing wave of inflation (808% this years, according to Forbes) and food shortages.
The not-so strong Bolívar.
The multiple issues stated by the Venezuela office of foreign affairs (full name, Ministry of the People’s Power for Foreign Affairs, and no, it is not a joke) as contraband and currency manipulation is what people otherwise know as free market.
The currency of Venezuela, The Bolivar Fuerte (Strong Bolivar) is under such a heavy depreciation that is not exchanged in any country in the world, with the notable exception of Colombia. The current restriction for buying and selling US dollars to the venezuelan people and the policy of out of control impression of money has leaded to a flooding of Venezuelan Bolivars in the borders. Consequences? The Venezuelan Bolívar has lost almost all of its value in front of the Colombian Peso.
The increase of the value of the Colombian Peso against the Venezuela Currency made the Venezuelan market a lot cheaper for Colombians, this is the reverse of a almost 50 years trend. Venezuelan people used to buy everything in Colombia when the Bolivar was really strong. It is just a market adjustment situation, not a criminal conspiracy to destroy an economy as Nicolas Maduro says.
But the really concern about this conspiracy theory is that is fully supported by the Venezuelan justice system. The justice institutions in Venezuelan have gone as far as implying that Colombian and American citizens want to kill their president. Of course, in a justice system that states that Hugo Chavez’s cancer was provoked by the United States, and that currently has hundred of people in jail, just for being against the chavistas policies, anything could happen.
And anything can actually happen because there is no free press nor freedom of speech in Venezuela, with hundreds of radio stations, television networks, newspapers, and Internet services shut down just for saying what was going on in that country.
Do they have right to do it?
Yes, Venezuela is in their sovereign right to shut all of their borders and deport every illegal citizen within their borders, but it is not the WHAT what is problematic, it is the HOW.
Since August 20, 2015, the NVG has taken several neighborhoods in the border town of San Antonio, Tachira, identifying with selective letters the houses inhabited by people of Colombian origin, just like Hitler used to do with people of Jew backgrounds. What is very contradictory is that these same neighborhood were build with the endorsement and full support of the Venezuelan government years ago.
The Colombian people living there travelled to Venezuela with the promise of now deceased Hugo Chávez to allow them to stay there and receiving Venezuelan citizenship (to vote for Chávez and Maduro, of course), not running from violence as Chancellor Delcy Rodríguez claims.
Most of the people marked and targeted by NVG agents were Colombians with Venezuelan citizenship, just not born there. And even worst, the way they were deported by the thousands is totally forbidden by International Law.
Colombians in Venezuela or Venezuelans in Colombia?
The misleading article closes pointing that Venezuela is a country that received «millions» of Colombians with arms wide open, including them in all of their social welfare programs, meaning that all Colombians living there are parasites searching for benefits of the Venezuelan government. But that is plain false.
With several relatives that once lived in Venezuela, in the times of the oil boom in that country, I can tell with no trace of doubt that Colombian people in Venezuela never went there to receive money for free, they went to work and they went to work hard. Colombian workers in Venezuela has always been subject to very low salaries, inhuman conditions, and abuses of Venezuelan authorities. But these abuses are not limited to Colombian workers.
Even people like me, that have traveled to Venezuela as tourists, have been humiliated with long and abusive inspections (specially to women) and in some cases, their identification documents (passports) have been retained and even torn apart by Venezuelan agents.
One another fact not included in the article is the current exodus of Venezuelan people to other countries across the globe because of the current crisis of the socialist economic system. Countries receiving this Venezuelan diaspora include Spain, Italy, Portugal, the United States, and of course, Colombia. And these Venezuelan people are using services provided by these countries for their native population, as in Colombia they are using the free emergency service provided by the government and the public schools. It is very easy to see how hypocritical is the position of the Venezuelan government in respect of all the Colombians living there.
I certainly hope that the twenty thousand Syrians that are arriving to Venezuela as refugees are not considered to be responsible for all the problems in Venezuela within two or three years, but having in mind that these Syrians refugees did not like Uruguay, a much better country than Venezuela, I seriously doubt they will stay there for that long.
Nota: Este es, hasta ahora, el único artículo que he escrito en inglés en este blog, no creo que lo vaya a hacer en el futuro, pero por lo que me di cuenta es un excelente ejercicio.