By Jorge Castro:
Spanish – In Latin America, but especially in Colombia, it is evident that Leopoldo Lopez is at the core of the National Assembly’s strategy of dialogue with the regime. From the beginning, his father has been a fundamental protagonist in Norway’s involvement as a “facilitator” of the impunity of Maduro’s cronies.
In fact, the so-called “Contact Group” was driven by Joseph Borrell, Spain’s foreign minister, a country where Leopoldo Lopez Sr. is an elected member of the European Parliament. His election in Europe reflects the level of influence that the father and son duo have accumulated on the peninsula. They have used that popularity to give airtime to the policy of dialogue.
Lopez is at the core of the negotiations. On 30th April, when the mafia loyal to Maduro was offered to defect, Leopoldo Lopez was the only ones who ended up capitalizing on the offers. Christopher Figuera, who released him, in turn, got no sanctions and gave interviews in the United States.
Juan Guaido appears to the media as the institutional operator of the process. The frustrations among different parties are coming to light. However, Lopez is the real captain of the conditions of the transitions. It is better to direct the consequences of the agreement towards him.
Colombia’s worst deal: cohabiting without pacifying
We cannot assume that freedom for Leopoldo Lopez and travel for Christopher Figuera were the only objectives of 30th April. Apparently, the issue was serious. Some even claim that Cuban intelligence was in the dark about this process. It was a high-level plot, and the Cubans are used to dealing with more novice conspiracies, or they simply mocked this one.
The desired transition was certainly to Maduro, but with Vladimir Padrino as Minister of Defence and Maikel Moreno as President of the Supreme Court of Justice; or at least they would be the main protagonists of the “cessation of usurpation” and its subsequent dynamic.
We are surely still talking in those terms. We are still reviewing the options, and that is, of course, unacceptable. It is intolerable to Venezuelans because we cannot assume free elections with Padrino and Moreno leading the transition. Similarly, it is unacceptable for Colombians because if those two are at the forefront of the security and justice apparatus, there will be no initiative to arrest the main security threats to Colombia that are now taking refuge in Venezuela.
Lopez is empowering the plan of cohabiting without pacifying. The strategy would give impunity to several of the most prominent figures of Chavismo. There would probably be no real commitment to attack the networks of violence against Venezuelans in the cities: colectivos, pranes, trenes (all criminal gangs) and so on, as well as the networks of violence against Colombians in the border sectors: ELN and DisFarc, in addition to the systems of violence against the West such as Cubans, Iranians, Hezbollah, and Hamas.
Leopoldo Lopez would conduct elections. Some high command would stay in power. However, the insecurity will continue or even accentuate. Incompetence, negligence, and corruption have led to these widespread criminal organization. In a different circumstance, the existence of these networks would warrant simultaneous military action by several armies or a long, slow, and painful process of conflicts of varying intensity.
ELN, Cuba, Brazilian ingenuity, and the continental threat
That strategy focused only on Maduro’s departure exhibits naivety on security issues and geopolitics. Vice President Hamilton Mourao expressed this best when he said, “Someone has to tell Cuba that it will replace Venezuela as the supplier of oil so that Cuba withdraws its people.”
Not only would Cuba not pay for the crimes it has committed in and against Venezuela, but a Brazilian vice-president (i.e., a possible Brazilian president, who comes from the military forces) would be willing to pay an oil ransom for Venezuela’s freedom. The high-level Brazilian official has essentially confessed that Havana is holding the Venezuelan population ransom.
The problem is not only that Cuba withdraws its visible and formal agents as if it had not become addicted to having a continental colony in South America and could promise never to do so again or never to try again. The real problem is that Cubans, who know how to camouflage themselves, even if they left Venezuela for a while, have their biggest franchise, the ELN, embedded throughout southern Venezuela.
Hence, cohabiting without pacifying, especially without pacification in the south of Venezuela necessarily implies that the region will be “guerilla country.” It will be a land governed by Cubans through their most loyal guerilla, ELN, whom they have always fed as a sleeper in the continental zone to maintain the possibility of raising the communist guerrilla internationalism once again.
Guerilla country and the Bolivarian homeland
The Crisis Group stated that the ELN “is now closer to achieving the ‘continental guerrilla force’ that it has long sought to create with combatants present in at least four different countries: Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Guyana (near the border with Brazil).”
Using the navigability of the rivers of the Amazon and the proximity of the Mining Arc as an axis, the ELN guerrilla can maintain its presence and finally mutate into the political incarnation of the significant expansion of the Cuban regime. From that region, they can develop and strengthen a permanent political influence throughout the continent. In terms of financing, they can connect with the areas in southern Colombia that the Farian dissident Gentil Duarte is trying to consolidate to access drug trafficking routes, arms, and gold.
When Carlos Lozada referred to the “Bolivarian Homeland” at the São Paulo 2019 Forum, held in Caracas, he did not speak in a rhetorical sense. It is not a symbolic space, an immaterial place. On the contrary, the claim to be a “State within the State” was an objective that the FARC had during most of its insurgent process. However, now the territorial political goal would no longer be a state within the state, but a parastate within several states: a strategic continental rearguard for communist internationalism coordinated from Havana.
In his transaction process with members of the Maduro regime, Leopoldo Lopez is ignoring that the region of southern Venezuela will not be able to face the threat with patience and strategy. Havana’s Plan A has always been to create a functional communist enclave in the continent.
Maduro’s exit will unwittingly change the Amazon state. There will be less pressure in urban areas and more time to continue building infrastructure in the jungle.
Therefore, if Mourao believes that Cuba can exchange some barrels of oil to achieve supremacy in the Venezuelan state of Amazonas, he is more naive than the Lopezes. Perhaps they would receive a ransom and appear to leave. But they would never interrupt the birth of guerilla country in Venezuela.
The Bolivarian homeland is being built under the noses of Brazilians, and if they don’t realize it, they will succumb to it. Here in Colombia, at least, we already know them, and we will always be waiting for them… or we will go after them.
Jorge Castro is a civil engineer from the University of Los Andes and founding member of the Libertarian Movement in Colombia.