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Venezuela and Ukraine: Upending Washington's Best Laid Plans (Carta Maior, Brazil)


"Beyond the disparities that distinguish the two situations, there is a common denominator: both Venezuela and Ukraine are geostrategic and energy targets of an aggressive U.S. foreign policy, and both have challenged, in different ways, the course laid out by the global hegemon."


By Larissa Ramina*



Translated By Brandi Miller


March 27, 2014


Brazil - Carta Maior - Original Article (Portuguese)

A student activist opposed to the government of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro: While the situations in Venezuela and Ukraine have dramatic differences, Professor Larissa Ramina writes that there are also striking differences.


CCTV NEWS, CHINA: Venezuela President Maduro announces arrest of three Air Force generals for plotting a coup, Mar. 26, 00:02:32RealVideo

"Venezuela and Ukraine are completely different," said President Dilma. And rightly so. However, beyond the disparities that distinguish the two situations, there is a common denominator: both Venezuela and Ukraine are geostrategic and energy targets of an aggressive U.S. foreign policy.


Since Hugo Chávez' was first elected, Venezuela has been the scene of repeated attempts to destabilize its democratically-elected, socialist-oriented government. It is worth remembering that, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, since the emergence of Chavismo, Venezuela has had the fairest income distribution in Latin America. Even after the death of the leader, the opposition has been repeatedly defeated at the polls, and what remains is an illegitimate alternative driven by the U.S. government.


The motivations that led to this interventionism are easily understood, since we're talking about a country with the largest oil reserves in the world (even if it is heavy oil that costs a lot to refine), the geographic location of which makes it a neighbor to the United States, and unlike a decade ago, now exports most of its production to China. And remember that at the turn of the 21st century, Chávez' Venezuela was the only country in Latin America to oppose attempts by the United States to extend the directives of the Washington Consensus to the entire continent through its pretentious Free Trade Area of the Americas.


Since then, the rise of various post-neoliberal governments in the region has allowed for a change in tone for the process of South-South integration, symbolized by the creation of Mercoser and Union of South American Nations, in place of free trade agreements with the hegemonic power. The result has been the progressive isolation of the United States from its strategic sphere of influence: Latin America.

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On the other side, Ukraine is a country of extreme strategic relevance, and is vital to Russia's security. While the intention is to depict the situation as simply a majority of the population wanting to integrate into an economic bloc - the European Union - the truth is that E.U. is deep in crisis. It suffers very high rates of unemployment and has a president [José Manuel Barroso] who intends to prevent Ukraine from entering into an alliance with Russia - and U.S. interference makes the roots of the crisis far more complex.


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U.S. meddling in Ukraine are due not only to fears that Russian influence will reassert itself in the post-Soviet space, which is the purpose of seeking to integrate Ukraine into the military structure of NATO, but also the strengthening of Europe as an interlocutor of Russia on strategic issues (to the detriment of the ever-present mediation of the United States), the fear of a rapprochement between Germany and Russia, and most of all, the energy factor. Obviously, Russia won't quietly allow a pro-Western government to rule a country so strategically vital to its security. Since the collapse of Soviet Union, more than 80 percent of Russian natural gas has been transported to Europe through Ukraine.


So, Venezuela and Ukraine do have something in common: their importance to the Western world from a geostrategic and energy point of view, and the fact that they have challenged, in different ways, the course laid out by the global hegemon.


*Larissa Ramina is Professor of International Law at UFPR and UniBrasil.



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Posted By Worldmeets.US Mar. 27, 2014, 12:29pm