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Este blog trata basicamente de ideias, se possível inteligentes, para pessoas inteligentes. Ele também se ocupa de ideias aplicadas à política, em especial à política econômica. Ele constitui uma tentativa de manter um pensamento crítico e independente sobre livros, sobre questões culturais em geral, focando numa discussão bem informada sobre temas de relações internacionais e de política externa do Brasil. Para meus livros e ensaios ver o website: www.pralmeida.org.

Mostrando postagens com marcador EUA. Mostrar todas as postagens
Mostrando postagens com marcador EUA. Mostrar todas as postagens

terça-feira, 11 de junho de 2019

O Brasil no circuito mundial das migracoes para os EUA - Reuters

Mexico eyes Brazil for U.S. asylum deal as Trump revives tariff threat

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico and the United States may explore additional steps next month to restrict illegal immigration from Central America, with the threat of tariffs hanging over Mexico if it does not do enough to satisfy U.S. demands, officials said on Monday. 
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Brazil, Panama, and Guatemala may need to be brought in to help if a deal unveiled last week between Washington and Mexico fails to reduce the numbers of U.S.-bound migrants crossing Mexico. 
The deal struck on Friday averted import tariffs on all Mexican goods, which U.S. President Donald Trump had vowed to impose unless Mexico did more to curb migration. 
The Trump administration said on Monday it could still apply tariffs if it judged that Mexico had not done enough, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo telling reporters it expected to see results within four to six weeks. 
The deal cut between the two nations last week means Mexico will expand a program under which migrants applying for asylum in the United States wait out the process in Mexico. Mexico also pledged to reinforce its southern border with Guatemala with 6,000 members of its National Guard militarized police. 
A major sticking point in last week’s talks was a U.S. demand that Mexico be declared a “safe third country” for asylum seekers, requiring them to seek refuge in Mexico if they passed through the country on the way to the United States. 
Mexico rejected that demand, though Ebrard revealed it would go back on the table if Mexico could not stem the flow of migrants heading to the U.S. border. 
“If we don’t have results on what we’re doing (in 45 days), we’ll start conversations on what they want, which is that Mexico will be a safe third country,” he told Mexican radio. 
Such a step would require the Mexican government to consult the Senate on how to proceed, Ebrard said. 
Trump said on Monday afternoon Mexico would soon announce an “undisclosed portion” of the deal that would have to be taken up by the Mexican Congress. He did not offer more details. 
“They have to get approval, and they will get approval. If they don’t get approval, we’ll have to think in terms of tariffs or whatever,” he told reporters at the White House. 
U.S. stocks were higher on Monday after the deal, easing worries about the impact of another trade war on the global economy. The Mexican peso rose more than 2% against the dollar. 
Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard gestures as Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador looks on during a news conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf


Ebrard said that if Mexico could not contain the migrant flows, other countries might also need to be involved. 
Asylum seekers from El Salvador and Honduras first pass through Guatemala when fleeing their homes, while Cubans and Haitians often fly first to Panama before heading to the United States through Mexico. Migrants from African countries regularly fly to Brazil before making the arduous journey north. 
“If the measures we are proposing are not successful, we have to discuss with the United States and with other countries, like Guatemala, Panama and Brazil,” Ebrard said. “If we have to participate in a regional model like the one I have just described, we would have to present that to Congress.” 
    While he did not go into detail, Ebrard suggested that asylum seekers might have to seek refuge in the first country they reached after leaving their homeland. 
The governments of Brazil, Panama and Guatemala did not immediately reply to requests for comment. 
U.S. border officers apprehended more than 132,000 people crossing from Mexico in May, the highest monthly level since 2006. Trump, who has called the surge in migrants an “invasion,” had threatened to keep raising duties up to 25% unless Mexico did more to curb it. 
    Mexico had no specific target for the reduction of migrant numbers, Ebrard said. Still, Martha Barcena, Mexico’s ambassador to Washington, told CBS News at the weekend there had been discussion of reducing the numbers to levels of around 2018. 
Ebrard also said there was no agreement between the United States and Mexico to purchase more agricultural products under the accord, despite Trump saying over the weekend that Mexico had agreed to buy “large quantities” from U.S. farmers. 
Ebrard said he thought Trump might be making a calculation based on Mexican agricultural imports when freed from the threat of tariffs. 

Reporting by Dave Graham; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Lesley Wroughton, Doina Chiacu and Makini Brice in Washington and Frank Jack Daniel, Diego Ore and David Alire Garcia in Mexico City; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Peter Cooney

sábado, 1 de junho de 2019

Editorial do Washington Post sobre as tarifas contra o México por causa dos imigrantges ilegais

Trump’s tariffs on Mexico are the kind of erratic act the Constitution is meant to prevent

THE MASSIVE influx of Central American migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border is a real problem, to which President Trump’s sudden threat of escalating tariffs against Mexico is a bizarre and wildly inappropriate response. Not only does it attribute, spuriously, all the blame for the migrant flow to Mexico, but it also takes that friendly country’s economy hostage — unless and until “the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment,” as the president put it in a statement Thursday night. U.S. consumers and companies will suffer potentially major collateral damage, all for the sake of a dispute that has nothing to do with trade.
Mr. Trump undermines goodwill he had recently reestablished with Mexico by lifting steel and aluminum tariffs; this was done to promote ratification of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement by Mexico and Canada. Now the treaty’s prospects for passage will again plummet, both in Mexico City and in Congress. Mr. Trump has just shown — again — why it is so hard for any counterpart, domestic or international, to work with him.
If Mr. Trump actually carries out the ultimatum by his self-imposed June 10 deadline, the American consumer will pay to the tune of a few hundred million dollars at first, and $3 billion if Mexico hasn’t satisfied him by October, thus triggering maximum tariffs of 25 percent. And that is for fresh produce alone; projected over the 2018 total of imports from Mexico of $372 billion, including the vast automotive supply chain, the maximum cost could be $93 billion. Mr. Trump is not thinking in cost-benefit terms but rather casts the “lawless chaos” and “mass incursion” as “an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States.”
The latter phrasing is necessary to trigger the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a law that has empowered presidents to act against adversaries such as Iran — and which Mr. Trump now stretches to threaten economic sanctions against our second-largest trading partner. He has apparently done so without the congressional consultation the statute calls for “in every possible instance.”
A tax increase imposed by sudden executive fiat, in pursuit of an irrational conflict with a neighbor and close ally, counterproductive for the White House’s own declared priorities — this epitomizes the kind of erratic presidential rule the Constitution intended to prevent. We are experiencing the downside of past legislation delegating “emergency” international economic power to the executive branch; Congress must, on a bipartisan basis, take it back.
That is a long-term project. In the near term, it’s up to more level-headed parties to try to thwart Mr. Trump. To his credit, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has responded with relative restraint, refusing to capitulate but also dispatching diplomats to Washington. The Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, called Mr. Trump’s threat “a misuse of presidential tariff authority” and urged him to pursue alternatives. That’s a start, but reining in this latest fit of presidential pique may take more principled resistance from Republican lawmakers than they have previously shown.

quinta-feira, 16 de maio de 2019

Negotiations With Iran. Trump’s Approach Isn’t Working - William J. Burns, Jake Sullivan

We Led Successful Negotiations With Iran. Trump’s Approach Isn’t Working

terça-feira, 14 de maio de 2019

Aventureirismo de Trump e de Bolton se volta agora contra o Iran - USA Today

President Donald Trump hopes to 'sit down' with Iran over nuclear deal

National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that the U.S. is sending the USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East.

Speaking during a campaign rally in Florida, President Donald Trump raised the prospect of holding talks with Iran over the nuclear deal he withdrew the U.S. from.
"I hope to be able at some point, maybe it won't happen, possibly won't, to sit down and work out a fair deal, we're not looking to hurt anybody ... we just don't want (Iran) to have nuclear weapons," Trump said Wednesday in Panama City Beach.
Trump's remarks followed an announcement Wednesday from Iran's President Hassan Rouhani announced that the Middle East nation would stop complying with two provisions in the nuclear accord it signed with world powers. 
Rouhani said Iran would reduce its compliance with the 2015 deal in response to new restrictions imposed by the Trump administration, part of a broader U.S. campaign to ratchet up economic and military pressure on Tehran.
Iran's declaration came on the one-year anniversary of Trump's unilateral withdrawal from the agreement that limited Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. 
Trump walked away from the deal he has described as the "worst ever negotiated" because he does not believe it does enough to limit Iran's nuclear ambitions or its ballistic missile programs and support for terrorism. 
In his announcement, Rouhani said Iran will keep excess low-enriched uranium and "heavy water" from its nuclear program inside the country – as opposed to selling it internationally – in a move that effectively amounts to a partial breach of the deal.
The Trump administration said last week it would sanction any country or business that purchased those products from Iran.
Rouhani set a 60-day deadline for new terms to the nuclear accord, absent negotiations with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union. He said that if those terms aren't met, Iran will resume higher uranium enrichment, the process that creates nuclear fuel. 
"We felt that the nuclear deal needs a surgery, and the painkiller pills of the last year have been ineffective," Rouhani said in a nationally televised address. "This surgery is for saving the deal, not destroying it."
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was in Moscow, tweeted, "After a year of patience, Iran stops measures that U.S. has made impossible to continue." Zarif warned that world powers have "a narrowing window to reverse this."
American officials on Wednesday slapped yet more economic penalties on Iran. The White House announced sanctions aimed at blocking Iran from exporting iron, steel, aluminum and copper, which it said were the regime’s largest non-petroleum-related sources of export revenue.  
Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative for Iran and senior policy adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said Iran intends to expand its nuclear weapons program. "That is in defiance of international norms and yet another attempt by the regime at nuclear blackmail," he said. 
Experts said Iran's move is a relatively soft counterpunch to the Trump administration's intense campaign to isolate the regime politically and economically. Some suggested the Trump administration's policies seem designed to achieve this exact escalation.
"This was pretty predictable," said Ali Vaez, Iran project director at the Crisis Group, a nonpartisan group focused on preventing conflict.
“The U.S. has tried to bring Iran to its knees with its maximum pressure campaign in a minimum amount of time, and for about a year, the Iranians demonstrated restraint and remained committed to their obligations under the nuclear deal," he said. 
"But they have increasingly less to lose because the U.S. sanctions have effectively deprived them of all the benefits that the nuclear deal promised," Vaez said. 
Vaez said Iran's response was "cleverly devised" to shift the blame to the Trump administration "because the U.S. last week basically rendered it illegal or a sanctionable act for any country to buy the excess ... heavy water and low-enriched uranium."
Others echoed that assessment and said Iran’s announcement did not necessarily signal a desire by the regime to become a nuclear-armed nation. 
"I think we should be very careful about assuming that Iran stepping away from the JCPOA means stepping closer to the bomb," said Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, a dual American Iranian national who runs a news and research agency focused on Iran’s economy. He noted that Iran is still a party to an international nuclear nonproliferation treaty and has not seriously pursued a nuclear weapons program for over a decade.
"So far, Iran remains committed to the deal, and we should not trap ourselves in a deal/bomb binary," said London-based Batmanghelidj. 
The Pentagon redirected aircraft bombers and a carrier strike group to the Middle East, citing intercepted intelligence indicating that Iran or its proxies in the region might be preparing attacks on American military troops and facilities. 
Last month, Trump designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, an elite wing of the nation's military that also plays a large economic role, a terrorist organization.
The economic sanctions the White House has imposed since withdrawing from the nuclear deal officially target Iran's government and industries but they have also hindered Iranians' access to essential medicines and consumer products.
Pompeo took an unscheduled trip to Iraq on Tuesday where he met with Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and briefed Iraqi officials on the "increased threat stream that we had seen" from Iranian forces.
"We talked to them about the importance of Iraq ensuring that it’s able to adequately protect Americans in their country," Pompeo said.
"I think everyone will look at the Iranian decision and have to make their own assessment about how much increased risk there is," he said. 
There are about 5,000 U.S. troops serving in Iraq. 
America's top diplomat gave an address Wednesday in London where the topic of rising tensions between the United States and Iran came up again.
"They take hostages and repress their own people. I urge the U.K. to stand with us to rein in the regime’s bloodletting and lawlessness, not soothe the Ayatollahs angry at our decision to pull out of the nuclear deal," Pompeo said in Britain's capital. 
President Barack Obama, whose administration negotiated the nuclear deal, sought to block Iran's progress toward nuclear weapons through diplomacy. The Trump administration, by contrast, has not been shy in its preference for a campaign of "maximum pressure" on Iran and has cut off all contact with the regime.
Vaez said Iran's announcement was a measured response and designed "mostly to serve as leverage in order to compel the remaining parties in the deal to throw Iran an economic lifeline in the face of U.S. sanctions." 
European signatories to the nuclear accord have attempted to stay in the nuclear agreement by establishing a financial mechanism, known as INSTEX, intended to help them circumvent U.S. sanctions, but it has not been fully implemented.
Animosity between the United States and Iran stretches back decades to when the CIA helped install a dictator as Iran's leader in 1953. A hostage crisis in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran coincided with the birth of the Islamic Republic in 1979.
Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton say confronting Iran is key to achieving peace and security in the Middle East, and both men are among Iran's fiercest critics in Washington. Bolton was instrumental in advocating for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
They provided few details about the nature of the threat that led to the sending of a carrier strike group and bomber task force to the Persian Gulf. Iran-backed militias killed 608 U.S. soldiers in Iraq from 2003-2011, according to the Pentagon. Tehran is regularly accused of being the largest state sponsor of terrorism, but the United Nations' nuclear watchdog has repeatedly verified that the regime has adhered to the 2015 nuclear pact – even after the U.S. departure last May. 
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"The (nuclear deal) is doing what it was designed to do: preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. As such, the deal is too important to be allowed to die," the directors of 18 foreign affairs think tanks and research institutes wrote in a joint letter published Wednesday as Iran signaled that the accord could totally unravel. 
"I’m deeply worried that the Trump administration is leading us toward an unnecessary war with Iran," said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., in a statement late Tuesday. "Let me make one thing clear: The Trump administration has no legal authority to start a war against Iran without the consent of Congress."
Batmanghelidj said, "Iranians perceive something deeply vindictive about the way the Trump administration is treating their country."
That doesn't mean that people are growing more supportive of the Islamic Republic.
"It is possible to be dismayed with both the U.S. government and their own government," he said.
Contributing: Tom Vanden Brook

segunda-feira, 13 de maio de 2019

OCDE: perspectivas otimistas do governo Bolsona ainda nao se confirmaram (FSP, IstoE)

Matérias da quinta e da sexta-feira, 9 e 10/05/2019:

Apoio dos EUA à entrada do Brasil na OCDE é muito claro, diz assessor internacional de Bolsonaro

Filipe Martins, porém, afirma que consenso no clube dos países ricos sobre novas vagas talvez seja etapa 'muito mais difícil'

Ricardo Della Coletta - Brasília

O assessor especial para assuntos internacionais da Presidência, Filipe Martins, afirmou nesta quinta-feira (9) que o apoio dos Estados Unidos à entrada do Brasil na OCDE (Organização para a Cooperação e Desenvolvimento Econômico) "é muito claro", mas que isso ocorrerá em meio à discussão, entre os membros da entidade, sobre quantas novas vagas serão abertas.

"Vai ter uma reunião ministerial em breve [entre os países que integram a OCDE], e isso vai ser decidido lá. E aí, depois dessa etapa, o apoio dos EUA é muito claro: o Brasil e Argentina devem estar nas vagas", disse Martins, depois de participar de uma palestra no Instituto Rio Branco, a escola de formação de diplomatas do Itamaraty.

"E como os membros da OCDE veem o Brasil como o país a ser priorizado, pelo peso econômico, eu acho que não tem muito motivo para ser pessimista em relação a isso", disse o assessor.

Martins, porém, afirma que o consenso dos 35 países membros do organismo sobre como ocorrerá a sua expansão talvez seja uma etapa "muito mais difícil" do que o levantamento do veto dos EUA ao pleito brasileiro.

"Nós temos uma segunda etapa agora, que talvez seja muito mais difícil, que é chegar ao consenso dos 35 membros da OCDE sobre o número de países e vagas que serão abertas", disse.

"Mas chegando a um consenso sobre isso, o Brasil fará parte do processo de acesso."

O assessor, que foi aluno do curso de filosofia do escritor Olavo de Carvalho, ocupa um dos mais importantes postos de aconselhamento do presidente da República.

O apoio do presidente dos EUA, Donald Trump, ao acesso do Brasil à OCDE, uma espécie de clube dos países ricos, foi anunciado durante a visita do presidente Jair Bolsonaro a Washington em março.

O argumento do governo é que o ingresso do país na OCDE melhoraria a confiança dos investidores internacionais no Brasil.

Em troca da luz verde de Washington, as autoridades brasileiras aceitaram abrir mão, em negociações futuras, do tratamento diferenciado ao qual o Brasil tem direito na OMC (Organização Mundial do Comércio) por se declarar um país em desenvolvimento.

A reunião ministerial da OCDE à qual o assessor especial se referiu está marcada para os dias 22 e 23 de maio, em Paris.

Nos últimos dias, causou incômodo no governo brasileiro a notícia de que os EUA não haviam cumprido o acordo de apoiar o acesso do país ao clube dos países ricos.

Segundo o jornal Valor Econômico, os EUA mantiveram o impasse sobre a adesão de novos membros na OCDE durante reunião do conselho de representantes da entidade, na terça-feira (7).

A delegação americana mais uma vez teria dito que não havia instruções para trabalhar pelo ingresso de novos países na organização.

A notícia fez com que o governo dos EUA reafirmasse publicamente o compromisso assumido com Bolsonaro, de que o Brasil terá o apoio da administração Trump para iniciar o processo de admissão na entidade.

"Há hoje uma discussão sobre como expandir a OCDE. Os países europeus têm uma ideia de expandir um pouco mais, com um pouco mais de liberalidade, e os EUA têm uma certa restrição sobre como essa expansão vai se dar", disse Martins.

"Os EUA acham que [vagas para] seis países é muita coisa, que vai acabar entrando país que não tem os instrumentos adequados para fazer parte", concluiu.

A palestra dada por Martins aos diplomatas se chamou "Governança Global e Autodeterminação Popular".

Nela, o assessor especial da Presidência defendeu ideias do escritor Olavo de Carvalho. Ele argumentou que a eleição de Bolsonaro, no ano passado, se insere numa série de fatos políticos que não foram antecipados pelas "elites políticas".

Como exemplo, Martins citou a votação do brexit, a eleição de Trump nos EUA e a chegada ao poder do direitista Matteo Salvini na Itália.

Felipe Martins também abordou ao longo de sua palestra, por diversas vezes, o termo globalismo. Embora frequentemente utilizado pelo chanceler Ernesto Araújo, o conceito encontra pouco amparo na academia.

"A grande disputa do século 21 será entre os defensores da democracia liberal e os defensores da governança global", declarou.

Em outro momento, Martins associou a chamada agenda globalista a uma "corrosão da tradição religiosa e a proposta de substituição por uma moral biônica."

Itamaraty espera ingresso do Brasil na OCDE ainda em maio, diz porta-voz

Istoé, 09/05/19 - 20h20 - Atualizado em 10/05/19

O porta-voz da Presidência da República, general Rêgo Barros, afirmou nesta quinta-feira, 9, que a diplomacia brasileira possui indicativos “críveis” de que os Estados Unidos manifestarão apoio ao ingresso do Brasil na OCDE (Organização para a Cooperação e Desenvolvimento Econômico) na próxima reunião da entidade em Paris, em 22 e 23 de maio.

“Há indicações críveis de que a delegação norte-americana dará tal apoio, embora ainda não esteja clara a posição daquele país sobre como procederia ao conjunto das candidaturas”, disse o porta-voz, durante declaração à imprensa no Palácio do Planalto. “O MRE (Ministério das Relações Exteriores) está realizando gestões em Washington e em todas as capitais de países da OCDE para que a acessão brasileira seja aprovada no mais breve prazo, se possível, já na próxima reunião do conselho de ministros da OCDE a realizar-se em Paris nos dias 22 e 23 de maio.”

O porta-voz ressaltou, porém, o apoio de Trump não assegura o ingresso brasileiro na OCDE. Além do País, outros cinco são candidatos a ter assento e não se sabe qual seria a posição dos Estados Unidos. Os países europeus condicionam que, a cada ingresso de país latino-americano, haja um de país europeu.

“Para obter o consenso dos membros, ainda será necessário acordar solução sobre o início do processo de acessão de seis candidaturas que estão em exame: Brasil, Argentina, Bulgária, Croácia, Peru e Romênia”, ponderou Rêgo Barros.

O aval dos Estados Unidos foi uma promessa do presidente do país, Donald Trump, ao presidente Jair Bolsonaro, durante visita de Estado em fevereiro. Em contrapartida, o Brasil se comprometeu a começar a abrir mão de status especial que detém na Organização Mundial do Comércio (OMC).


O Itamaraty confirmou nesta quinta a visita de Bolsonaro a Dallas, no Texas, na próxima semana. Bolsonaro deverá receber um prêmio de personalidade do ano oferecido pela Câmara de Comércio Brasil-EUA, além de reunir-se com políticos conservadores, como o ex-presidente George W. Bush. A comitiva presidencial decola de Brasília no dia 14 de maio, à noite, e retorna no dia 16 de maio. Os compromissos oficiais ainda não foram divulgados.

sábado, 20 de abril de 2019

Venezuela: embaixador russo rejeita a nova versão da doutrina Monroe de John Bolton (AP)

Putin envoy in Caracas rejects US revival of Monroe Doctrine

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — As Venezuela’s reliance on Russia grows amid the country’s unfolding crisis, Vladimir Putin’s point man in Caracas is pushing back on the U.S. revival of a doctrine used for generations to justify military interventions in the region.
In a rare interview, Russian Ambassador Vladimir Zaemskiy rejected an assertion this week by U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton that the 1823 Monroe Doctrine is “alive and well.”
The policy, originally aimed at opposing any European meddling in the hemisphere, was used to justify U.S. military interventions in countries including Cuba, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Grenada, but had been left for dead by recent U.S. administrations trying to turn the page on a dark past.
“It’s hard to believe that the U.S. administration have invented a time machine that not only allows them to turn back the clock but also the direction of the universe,” the 66-year-old diplomat told The Associated Press this week.
In an example of how the Cold War-like rhetoric on all sides of Venezuela’s crisis has quickly escalated, the ambassador compared hostile comments by Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to those of the al Qaeda leaders behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“Their obsession in imposing their will, in this case on Venezuela’s internal affairs, reminds me of the declarations of the leaders of al Qaeda, who in carrying out the attack on the Twin Towers also tried to position themselves as the only bearers of the truth,” said Zaemskiy, who was senior counselor at Russia’s mission to the United Nations on 9/11. “The history of humanity has shown that none of us are.”
Those specific, written remarks were prepared ahead of the interview.
While the Trump administration led a chorus of some 50 nations that in January recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader, Putin has steadfastly stood by Nicolás Maduro, sending planeloads of military personnel and blocking condemnation of his government at the U.N. Security Council.
In a speech this week commemorating the anniversary of the disastrous CIA-organized invasion of Cuba in 1961 by exiles opposed to Fidel Castro’s revolution, Bolton warned Russia against deploying military assets to “prop up” Maduro, considering such actions a violation of the Monroe Doctrine.
What the U.S. considers Russia’s destabilizing support for Maduro hit a high point in December when two Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons touched down in Caracas. Then, last month, dozens of uniformed personnel arrived to service Sukhoi fighter jets and an S-300 missile system.
Zaemskiy said such military cooperation is perfectly legal and has been taking place for years — ever since the U.S. in 2006 banned all arms sales to the South American country. But he said the alliance has taken on added importance as the Trump administration repeatedly insists that a “military option” to remove Maduro remains on the table.
He was unwilling to say how far Russia would go to thwart an eventual U.S. attack, saying that as a diplomat he’s an optimist.
“I firmly believe that in the end reason will prevail and no tragedy will take place,” he said.
The soft-spoken, bookish Zaemskiy has specialized in Latin America since his days working for the Soviet Union and was posted to Washington for the first of two U.S. tours when the Cold War ended.
Because of his strong Spanish and English, he was a note-taker at the U.N. in September 2000 when Maduro’s mentor and predecessor Hugo Chavez met Putin for the first time. He said he recalls Chavez complaining to the newly elected Putin about the need to raise oil prices, then near three-decade low. The two petroleum powers gradually cemented a political, military and economic alliance over the next few years as oil prices surged to an all-time high, bringing riches to both.
Western diplomats describe Zaemskiy as an astute and affable interlocutor who even U.S. diplomats and leaders of the opposition are known to consult. He’s also the dean of foreign diplomats in Caracas’ dwindling diplomatic community, having presented his credentials in September 2009 — a few weeks before another staunch government ally, Cuban Ambassador Rogelio Polanco.
The aquamarine-colored Russian Embassy, where Zaemskiy also lives, was a mid-century mansion purchased in the 1970s from a wealthy military colonel trained in the U.S. It lies in the shadow the hilltop U.S. Embassy, whose flagpole has been bare since the last American diplomats pulled out of the country last month amid a feud with Maduro over its recognition of Guaidó.
He acknowledged that with hyperinflation raging and many goods in short supply, Venezuela is in a “very difficult” situation. Echoing Maduro, he blamed U.S. sanctions, as well as the stifling of private investment.
His first tour in Venezuela as a protocol officer came from 1976 to 1979, when modern skyscrapers paid for by a flood of petrodollars transformed Caracas’ skyline even as many outside the capital lived in what he described as a semi-feudal state. Zaemskiy said the legacy of Chavez’s economic and political revolution — that it restored dignity to the poor — remains intact.
“It’s perfectly clear to me that the economic situation of the country has deteriorated a great deal,” he said. “The way forward is to open more opportunities for the private sector, which still has a big role to play in the country and should be allowed to demonstrate that” — seemingly a veiled criticism of Maduro’s constant squeeze on private businesses.
To break the current stalemate, he urged something the government’s foes have so far rejected: burying the past and starting negotiations, perhaps with the mediation of the Vatican or U.N.
The U.S. and opposition insist that past attempts at dialogue have only served to give Maduro badly needed political oxygen while producing no progress.
“The lack of confidence is a problem on both sides, which is why they should think together on some innovative ways to create reassurances in this process,” he said. “To simply reject the possibility of dialogue and repeat that the only way forward is the ‘end of usurpation’ as the opposition says, won’t lead anywhere.”
Despite such outward care for Maduro, some have questioned the depth of Russia’s support.
Russia is major investor in Venezuela’s oil industry, but those interests have been jeopardized since the Trump administration in January imposed sanctions on state-run oil giant PDVSA and even went after a Moscow-based bank for facilitating its transactions. At the same time PDVSA last month moved its European headquarters to Moscow from Lisbon, Gazprombank said it was pulling out of a joint venture with the company, Russian state media reported.
“The core value of Russia’s association with Chavismo is a challenge to U.S. prerogatives in its supposed backyard,” said Ivan Briscoe, the head in Latin American for the Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank. “That said, Russian diplomacy is nothing if not realistic. They know Venezuela is plunging into an economic abyss with tragic humanitarian consequences. When the moment comes and tensions reach a height, they are likely to help negotiate a settlement, but will aim to exact the highest price they can.”
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