Tag Archives: International Relations

Is Venezuela finally waking up? Here is a review

20140403-115813.jpg

One goes to Caracas and picks up so many stories, that when you return you don’t know where to start. But I thought I would lead up with the story of the students in front of the United Nations office in Caracas. In some sense it encompasses a number of stories of what is going on in Caracas in the protest movement an its relationship with the Maduro Government.

Essentially, a bunch of students (or not) have set up camp in front of the United Nations office which is in Avenida Francisco de Miranda in Los Palos Grandes. I may not like the #SOSVenezuela hashtag, but, as you can see in the picture above, they have focused on what the hell is the UN doing, or not, in Venezuela. But their reality, their plan is a bit more complicated than that.

The first day, the students set up maybe a couple of rows of tents. But, as you can see in the picture above, by now they are up to four rows and growing.

It is very colorful as the picture below shows, but this is more than just a spur of the moment plan.

When you first talk to them,there are a number of surprises. First, they are not all from Caracas. Second, they are not middle class. Finally, they are not all students, as many of them are part of radical, left wing groups 8yes!, real left wing not imitation Chavistas!) which oppose the Government. So, for fools that claim that these protests are somehow motivated by the US, driven my middle class students, please come down and talk to them. You will be surprised, really surprised.

The second interesting aspect, is that the UN is just a way of focusing on something. They know that the UN will do not much more than make a statement or two. But they also know, that where they are, they should be safe, they are close to Altamira where they can go protest every night and in a location where the protests can grow, as they have grown in the last week.

But more importantly, they think that Maduro is playing a game of patience. They believe Maduro wants the students to get tired, wear out the opposition with repression and nightly fights, which, much like in 2002 in Plaza Altamira, will lead to the students or the opposition getting tired and giving up.

But they have no plans of giving up.

Their plan is to grow the camp, as long as it is livable. To make their presence a nuisance, but one that gets the approval of the neighbors. But it has to be livable and sustainable. They have received donations, they have a couple of Porta Toilets, they cook for everyone, they organize protests. But more importantly, they rotate. The tents may have someone’s name on it, or State, but the truth is that they alternate. Each person has someone to occupy their place. The idea is to outlast the Government, to out-tire the National Guard or the Bolivarian Police. After all, nobody can say they are violent (even if they go help in Altamira) but if the Government were to decide to move them out, repress them, it would be the Government that would look bad.
Continue reading


About political situation in Venezuela today

20140319-125909.jpg

A lot of people argue that these protests are too early. That the barrios are not participating. That the people still support the Government widely and many other such arguments. While there is evidence to counteract each of these claims, I think they try to oversimplify the problem. In the end, the “barrios” are not where the opposition is weak, it is in the very rural states, where the people have a very high dependence on the Government. These are the true Chavista strongholds, where the media is fully dominated by the Government and the opposition gets less than 40% of the vote in any given election. In the barrios of the big cities, the 2013 Presidential elections tended to be closer, with the opposition scoring wins in many.
Continue reading


Democracy assistance has little chance of being effective without the carrot and stick of conditionality?

 

Definition carrot and stick: Strategy often used in negotiations where one side offers the other something it wants while threatening negative sanctions if the other side does not comply with its requests.

Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, there has been confusion for disagreement over the primary purpose(s) of political strategies of external support for democratization and their theoretical justification. Carothers’ idea of a ‘‘democracy template’’ (1999:88) comprising electoral process, state institutions, and civil society, reflecting an idealized view of U.S. liberal democracy arranges the typical components of conventional democracy support. First, there are goals for each of these three ‘‘sectors,’’ such as free and fair elections, and then individual forms of assistance, for example; international election observation. The simplest strategy for support refers to choices among these three sectors and their components.[1]

Democratization assistance is an established and growing industry. Yet, in a survey of 40 democracies; efforts to protect and promote democracy abroad, only three countries (Canada, the Netherlands, and Sweden) were rated ‘‘very good’’[2]. Thus, it seems there is scope to do better. In contrast, two problematic aspects of democratization after intervention are the regional environment of the new democracies and the economic structure of the country. Several empirical studies indicate that the prospects for democracy are worse for countries that are located in non-democratic neighbourhoods [3] and that stable democracy is less likely in poor or oil-dependent countries.[4]

Conditionality can be defined as an agreement between two actors, in which actor 1 offers a reward to actor 2. This reward is granted if actor 2 fulfils certain conditions. In case the conditions are not met by actor 2 the reward is simply withheld (positive conditionality) or punishment follows (negative conditionality). To exert conditionality as a reward-based policy between two actors, asymmetric negotiation power has to be in place. This means that actor 1 has to be able to offer attractive incentives which actor 2 wants to have and cannot achieve easily. When analyzing social interaction from an incentives- and interest-based position, conditionality is first of all understood as a mode of action. Additionally, it can be used purposely as a political strategy to apply a reward-based policy between two political actors and to institutionalize asymmetric interaction. In this case, conditionality can be used to promote democracy by combining attractive rewards with certain conditions of democratic development.

Continue reading


Can armed humanitarian intervention ever be justified?

Since its beginnings armed humanitarian intervention has represented a dilemma to war, peace and international ethics because it involves the moral issue of when to intervene and if these interventions are justifiable.  Moreover there are the different theories in favour and against of armed intervention. This essay will discuss:  Can armed humanitarian intervention ever be justified?

In order to make this essay clearer is to believe that a couple of definitions should be made beforehand; humanitarian intervention and armed intervention. Firstly, ‘humanitarian intervention is traditionally defined as the use of force by states to protect human rights. This definition presumes that states should do the intervening in order to maintain civil rights and of course the welfare and peace in society’.[1]Nowadays, it is sometimes argued that this traditional definition is obsolete because humanitarian intervention is increasingly a matter of collective action under UN auspices, not action undertaken by states acting on their own authority and under their own law. Secondly, we speak of armed intervention when that exercise involves the use of military force. An armed intervention is humanitarian when its aim is to protect innocent people who are not nationals of the intervening state from violence perpetrated or permitted by the government of the target state.[2] Additionally, armed intervention to stop a massacre is likely to be only the first of many measures needed to restore order to a chaotic society and prevent subsequent massacres. If prevention is important, then is to believe that the challenge for humanitarian policy is to move from responding to humanitarian crises to forestalling them.

Continue reading


Is anarchy a serious obstacle to co-operation?

In International Relations the concept of anarchy has been broadly discussed for several reasons; some scholars may argue that anarchism can be beneficial among the states and even more beneficial in IR dealings between countries. In opposition other scholars believe that anarchism is a serious obstacle to co-operation. This essay will discuss Is anarchy a serious obstacle to co-operation?

Yes; it is. The reason that makes me get in this position is the following: from the definition anarchy is defined as: “a system operating in the absence of any central government. Does not imply chaos, but in Realist theory the absence of political authority.”[1] Furthermore; in order to answer this question correctly, concepts involving Realism, Critical theory and Constructivism arise because they define the path in IR about anarchy most recently in the last years.

Continue reading


The Ages of Extremes

The Age of Extremes

During the 20th century, the world for the first time in human history witnesses’ global wars, human interest this time crossed national frontiers and even when it was not the end of the world there were moments when the end of a considerable proportion of the human race did not look far off. This essay will discuss first what factors make the 20th century the Age of Extremes and second what lasting impact do they have on international politics in the 21th century.
The concept of “global war” was in first instance an element that influence the 20th century as called the Age of Extremes. The First World War was the first modern, industrialized total war; it began between European states on European battlefields, but extended across the globe, the trigger was the Assassination of Arch duke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 june 1914 . This time not only many countries were involved in war, even women were involved as Len Scott related “It was a total war in the sense that whole societies and economies were mobilized: men were conscripted into armies and women went to work in factories”

Continue reading


%d bloggers like this: