Spanish expert calls for prudence in managing Venezuela crisis


A Spanish expert on geopolitics, strategy, defense and security issued a call for prudence in managing the crisis in Venezuela, warning that reckless action would lead to some type of confrontation and bloodshed.

“If we don’t act rashly, we’ll perhaps be giving the leaders time to reflect; you have to always leave a door open so the enemy can escape with dignity,” Pedro Baños said during an appearance in this northern Colombian city’s Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias 2019, a sister event to the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, a famed literary gathering held annually in Wales.

Baños, a Spanish army colonel serving in a reserve capacity, said prudence on the part of political leaders is the most sensible approach when “thinking about human security, which is what should really matter.”

In a discussion at the festival with Colombian journalist Andrea Bernal, Baños said Latin America was becoming a theater of operations for the United States, China and Russia but that the struggle was not a traditional war.

Wars are now waged “with economic instruments, embargoes, sanctions, not allowing negotiations on international markets, freezing bank accounts like they did to Iran at one point and they keep doing to North Korea,” the expert said.

Economic warfare “is aimed at plunging a country into such a level of poverty, such a level of desperation that its own people rise up against their leaders to change the government,” Baños said.

“That’s what they tried in Iran with little success and what they’re trying with Venezuela,” he said.

The speaker of Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly, Juan Guaido, proclaimed himself as that country’s interim president on Jan. 23, and he was immediately recognized as such by the United States and Latin American countries like Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

The European Parliament also has recognized Guaido, while several major European countries - Spain, Germany, France and the United Kingdom - are set to do so as well after giving Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro until Sunday to call snap elections.

Maduro, who in 2017 effectively sidelined the National Assembly by creating a new plenipotentiary body, won a second term in office last year. The opposition boycotted that balloting, saying the process was fraudulent.

Maduro has the backing of two key international allies - its main creditors, China and Russia - and, most importantly, of Venezuela’s armed forces.

Venezuela’s defense minister, Vladimir Padrino, warned on Jan. 24 that a coup is under way.

Padrino said the US government, in tandem with its allies in Latin America and some officials of multi-lateral organizations, are following the “well-worn script of overthrowing those progressive projects that don’t fit their imperialist ambitions.”

Venezuela, an oil-rich country that has seen millions flee in recent years due to severe food and medicine shortages and hyperinflation, has been the victim of “unprecedented hybrid warfare,” Padrino said.

Harsh new US sanctions on the nation’s vital oil industry, which accounts for nearly all of its hard-currency income, could further exacerbate the economic crisis in Venezuela.

Baños, who is the author of two books on geopolitics: “Asi se domina el mundo: Desvelando las claves del poder mundial” (How They Rule the World) and “El dominio mundial” (World Domination), said at the Hay Festival that geopolitical moves generally stem from the specific interests of the great powers.

“We have the case of Syria, where due to these regional and global geopolitical interests more than a half million people have died and half the population has been displaced from their homes, a massive humanitarian tragedy that apparently no one cares about,” he said.

Baños also referred to the use of terrorism as a weapon, saying that “it’s a spectacle, it’s theater and symbolism is the goal.”

“Terrorism is a tool, it’s never an end in itself; often times we focus on fighting terrorists, when what you have to do is fight against the ideology behind terrorism, the objectives behind it, and against the ones pulling the strings of terrorism,” the expert said.