Maduro looking for a Falklands

Remember the Falklands War?  It happened in 1982 when Argentina decided that it was time to fight a war over the UK territory.  It did not go well for the junta in Buenos Aires, but they needed something to distract the locals from another round of inflation and economic problems. I recall going to a breakfast a few years ago to hear from an Argentine military officer who basically said this:  We were all ready to fight until the British started dropping those big bombs on the runway.   

Down in Venezuela, the Maduro government could use something to rally the locals.  So they scheduled a referendum over the Guyana Territory.  This is the story:

Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, finds himself in a political bind. He is under pressure from the United States to hold free and fair elections after years of authoritarian rule or face a reinstatement of crippling economic sanctions. But analysts say he is unlikely to give up power and would most likely lose in a credible election.

Now, Mr. Maduro has reignited a border dispute with a much smaller neighboring country in a move that seems driven, at least in part, by a desire to divert attention from his political troubles at home by stoking nationalist fervor.Mr. Maduro claims that the vast, oil-rich Essequibo region of Guyana, a country of about 800,000, is part of Venezuela, a nation of roughly 28 million people. On Sunday, more than 95 percent of voters supported that claim in a referendum organized by the government, Venezuela’s electoral authority said.

Mr. Maduro’s argument is based on what many Venezuelans consider an illegitimate agreement dating to the 19th century that gave the Essequibo region to Guyana. Although most countries have accepted that Essequibo belongs to Guyana, the issue remains a point of contention for many Venezuelans, and experts had expected the referendum to be approved. But there were indications Sunday that voter turnout had been low.
President Irfaan Ali of Guyana has said that “Essequibo is ours, every square inch of it,” and has pledged to defend it.
For Mr. Maduro, stoking a geopolitical crisis provides a way to shift the domestic conversation at a moment when many Venezuelans are pressing for an election that could challenge his hold on power.

Distraction?  Definitely yes.  I guess that Maduro is hoping to reverse the aforementioned agreement from many years ago.  So far, Maduro has not threatened military force, but you never know.  I don’t think that public opinion wants to fight for the land, but they agree that it is theirs.

The voter turnout was low, confirming that Venezuelans are more concerned with inflation than the territory.  

What happens if Venezuela were to invade?  The OAS will do nothing, as always.  What about the U.S.?  Probably nothing too.  So let’s stay tuned for the next episode of the latest Caracas show.

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