As the Russian destroyer 'Admiral Chabanenko' was first to dock at La Guaira, ahead of the nuclear-powered cruiser 'Peter the Great', Medvedev's high profile visit marks an "interesting" alliance between the two oil producers and their common interest in deflating Washington DC ego-trippers in the eyes of the rest of the world.
The US State Department's Sean McCormack -- never tardy about coming to the podium to seek to minimize anything Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias says or does -- says the United States is "not concerned!"
- "I don't think a few Russian ships in the Caribbean with the Venezuelans is really going to raise anybody's eyebrows," he says, careful, nevertheless, to add "we'll watch it closely..."
Of course the hoopla surrounding the Russian visit is yet another God-given opportunity for President Chavez to hog the radio and television airwaves in Venezuela on "cadenas" -- officially mandated transmissions (often hours long) on all terrestrial broadcasting organizations, basically, at the drop of a hat, and enough to send any program scheduler immediately to re-hab for nervous breakdowns.
On an international front, very obviously, Russia is still perplexed over the Pentagon's decision to send US warships into the Black Sea claiming, in September, that it was to deliver humanitarian supplies, just weeks after the Russian invasion of Georgia. Anna Gilmour, at Jane's Intelligence Review in London is quoted as saying that "Russia is making a point to the United States ... if the United States wants to project its influence in the Russian sphere, then Russia wants to show that it can counteract it!"
Yet, Yezhednevny Zhurnal's Alexander Golts, writing from Moscow, say sending Russian warships to Venezuela doesn't make military sense since he can scarcely imagine any real purpose in navy/military cooperation between the two albeit they could be preparing to engage US aircraft carriers that plow Caribbean waters thinking they own the place. As it is, Venezuela's total of 17 naval vessels spends most of their time patrolling coastal waters to combat drug trafficking and warding off repeated intrusions of its territorial waters by "gringo aggressors."
Nevertheless, the Russia-Venezuela naval exercises will cover joint sea rescue, maneuvers and artillery drills, according to Russian Defense Committee chairman Viktor Zavarzin in a recent interview with Moscow-based RIA Novosti. Reasonable, perhaps, considering that Venezuela is Russia's best customer in Latin America with at least US$4,000,000,000 in weapons purchases since 2005 and Chavez' declared intent to buy even more.
Meanwhile, protocol officials at the Miraflores Presidential Palace and at the Foreign Ministry's 'Yellow House' HQ in Caracas are unsuccessfully attempting to keep the lid on trouble brewing in the corridors of power following last Sunday's local and regional elections which Chavez is claiming to be a quasi-plebiscite on the Venezuelan people's preference for his particular bent on presidential politicking.
Chavez presidential challenger at the last election, Eudes Vera, on the other hand says that "Chavez is unlikely to sack (Foreign Minister) Nicolas Maduro, simply because he (Chavez) prefers to be surrounded by mediocre and Yes-men like Maduro and Carrizales (Ramon -- vice president!). Maduro and his wife, National Assembly (AN) president/speaker are widely seen as among the most dangerous liabilities to President Chavez' broader political ambitions with complaints and accusations flying hither and thither of nepotism and key jobs sinecured to most-favored relatives of the couple ensconced in political power.
While Maduro must necessarily be on his guard for long, sharp, knives in his back at MRE, he has to deal with various ambassadorial incompetencies -- Moncada in London, Fleming in Brussels and lesser individuals elsewhere in Europe -- as well as a rat's nest of immature 'boli-truks' (a new breed of political commisars) in Washington DC, playing mice while "big cat" Bernardo Alvarez Herrrera's away, and disgustingly 'boli-burgeoise' (newly-enriched false-flagged revolutionaries) at Venezuela's New York Consulate.
Mrs. Maduro /
It's NOT high-heels but stilettos that are out at the National Assembly (AN), ready to knife Mrs. Maduro (a.k.a. Cilia Flores) who may have put as many as forty or more family members and friends on the Legislature's payroll, and is resisting investigation of illicit enrichment while, at the same time, is pushing for investigation of Zulia's former governor, now Maracaibo Mayor. Manuel Rosales, on a matter of some relatively transparent land and property transfers.
It NOT therefore surprising that a series of administration officials who've been sent home on full pay (because of Chavez' blanket ban on firing!) to kick their heels, for having dared to raise voices of protest over blatant abuses at a dozen ministries, are quietly watching the Maduro/Flores 'Rocky Horror Show' simply biding their time for Mrs. & Mrs. Maduro's inevitable fall from revolutionary grace and wondering who'll be left to pick up the pieces when Hugo Chavez Frias finally realizes that his reliance on "old pals" to navigate him through dangerous international waters is misplaced and that the exacting task of Venezuela's diplomacy must necessarily be in the hands of competent and well-trained professional diplomats ... NOT simply left to the guiles of a 'por puesto' minibus driver and his obsessive wife.
Roy S. Carson
Venezuela is facing the most difficult period of its history with honest reporters crippled by sectarianism on top of rampant corruption within the administration and beyond, aided and abetted by criminal forces in the US and Spanish governments which cannot accept the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people to decide over their own future.
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