Martin Wolf: “The embattled future of global trade policy”

The embattled future of global trade policy

Ingram Pinn illustration

Should proposed US plurilateral trade agreements be welcomed? This is a big question, not least for those who consider the liberalisation of world trade to be a signal achievement. It is also highly controversial.

Since the failure of the “Doha round” of multilateral negotiations — launched shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 — the focus of global trade policy has shifted towards plurilateral agreements restricted to a limited subgroup of partners. The most significant are US-led: the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. As a study by the US Council of Economic Advisers puts it, the Obama administration’s trade agenda aims to put America “at the center of an integrated trade zone covering nearly two-thirds of the global economy and almost 65 per cent of US goods trade”.

The TPP is a negotiation with 11 countries, most importantly Japan. Its partners account for 36 per cent of world output, 11 per cent of population and about one-third of merchandise trade. The TTIP is between the US and the EU, which account for 46 per cent of global output and 28 per cent of merchandise trade. The main partner not included in these negotiations is, of course, China.

Some of the countries participating in the TPP still have quite high barriers to imports of goods. The CEA notes the relatively high tariffs in Malaysia and Vietnam and agricultural protection in Japan. It also argues that the TPP partners and EU have higher barriers to imports of services than the US.

Yet lowering barriers is only a part of the US aim. The CEA report adds that, in the TPP, Washington is proposing “enforceable labor protections and greener policies”. But it is also seeking “strong enforcement of intellectual property rights”. In the TTIP, “both sides seek agreement on crosscutting disciplines on regulatory coherence and transparency” — in other words making rules more compatible with one another and more transparent for business. Thus, both the TPP and TTIP are efforts to shape the rules of international commerce. Pascal Lamy, former director-general of the World Trade Organisation, argues that “TPP is mostly, though not only, about classical protection-related market access issues . . . TTIP is mostly, though not only, about . . . .  regulatory convergence”.

Whether these negotiations succeed will depend on whether the administration obtainstrade promotion authority from Congress. But should we want them to succeed?

The straightforward points in favour are: plurilateral agreements are now the best way to liberalise global trade, given the failure of multilateral negotiations; their new rules and procedures offer the best template for the future; and they will bring significant gains.

These arguments have force. Yet there are also counter-arguments.

Martin Wolf 1

With limited political capital, the focus on plurilateral trade arrangements risks diversion of effort from the WTO. That might undermine the potency of global rules. Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University stresses such risks. Furthermore, preferential trading arrangements risk distorting complex global production chains.

Another concern is that the US is using its clout to impose regulations that are not in the interests of its partners. I would be less concerned about labour and environmental standards, though both might be inappropriate, than about protection of intellectual property. It is not true that tighter standards are in the interest of all. On the contrary, if US standards were to be imposed, the costs might be very high.

Do you think Britain should repeal the Human Rights Act?

Finally, the economic gains are unlikely to be large. Trade has been substantially liberalised already and any gains decline as barriers fall. A study of the TPP by thePeterson Institute for International Economics in Washington suggests the rise in US real incomes would be below 0.4 per cent of national income. A study of the TTIP published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London comes to slightly higher figures for the EU and US. Completion of the TPP and TTIP might raise US real incomes by 1 per cent of GDP. This is not nothing, but it is not large.

Martin Wolf 2

The US-EU agreement does not raise concerns about the US ability to bully its partners. In trade, the two sides are equally matched. There are three further concerns with the TTIP, however.

First, Jeronim Capaldo of Tufts University has argued that estimates of the gains ignore macroeconomic costs. His Keynesian approach argues that the EU will lose demand because of a fall in its trade surplus. This is ridiculous. Macroeconomic problems should be addressed with macroeconomic policies. Trade policy has different goals.

Second, some of the barriers they are attempting to remove reflect different attitudes to risk. The negotiators will have to devise a text that allows co-ordination of regulatory procedures — over drug testing, say, without imposing identical preferences. If Europeans do not want genetically modified organisms, they must be allowed to preserve that preference. If trade policy treads on such sacred ground, it will die.

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Finally, we have the vexed issue of investor-state dispute settlement. Many complain that political choices — publicly-funded health systems or the right to control drug prices — might be put at risk by systems biased in favour of business. Negotiators fervently deny this. They had better be right.

On balance, the benefits of the TPP and TTIP will probably be positive, but modest. But there are risks. They must not become an alternative to the WTO or an attempt to push China to the margins of trade policy making. They must not be used to impose damaging regulations or subvert legitimate ones. Tread carefully. Overreaching could prove counterproductive even to the cause of global trade liberalisation.

. . .

Letter in response to this column:

The macroeconomic angle on the trade debate / From Jeronim Capaldo

Fonte: Financial Times

Entrevista exclusiva al Pdte. Evo Morales, Cumbre de las Américas 2015

Origins of ISIS – Special Coverage

Publicado em 5 de mar de 2015

In a special report, RT America examines the origins, power and expansion of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS). RT’s Ben Swann delves into the roots of the organization while Ameera David explains how the group amasses the millions of dollars it requires to operate. Finally, Manuel Rapalo explores how the Iraqi army fell apart despite benefiting from billions of dollars of US money – and military hardware – meant to ensure security.

Fonte: RT

How Putin Blocked the U.S. Pivot to Asia

Originalmente publicado em:  MARCH 6-8, 2015

The collapse of the Soviet Union removed the only constraint on Washington’s power to act unilaterally abroad…. Suddenly the United States found itself to be the Uni-power, the ‘world’s only superpower.’  Neoconservatives proclaimed ‘the end of history.’”

—  Paul Craig Roberts,  former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury

“Don’t blame the mirror if your face is crooked.”

— Russian proverb

On February 10, 2007,   Vladimir Putin delivered a speech at the 43rd Munich Security Conference that created a rift between Washington and Moscow that has only deepened over time.  The Russian President’s blistering hour-long critique of US foreign policy provided a rational, point-by-point indictment of US interventions around the world and their devastating effect on global security.   Putin probably didn’t realize the impact his candid observations would have on the assembly in Munich or the reaction of  powerbrokers in the US who saw the presentation as a turning point in US-Russian relations. But, the fact is, Washington’s hostility towards Russia can be traced back to this particular incident, a speech in which Putin publicly committed himself to a multipolar global system, thus, repudiating the NWO pretensions of US elites. Here’s what he said:

“I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security. And we must proceed by searching for a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the international dialogue.”

With that one formulation, Putin rejected the United States assumed role as the world’s only superpower and steward of global security, a privileged position which Washington feels it earned by prevailing in the Cold War and which entitles the US to unilaterally intervene whenever it sees fit. Putin’s announcement ended years of bickering and deliberation among think tank analysts as to whether Russia could be integrated into the US-led system or not.  Now they knew that Putin would never dance to Washington’s tune.

In the early years of his presidency, it was believed that Putin would learn to comply with western demands and accept a subordinate role in the Washington-centric system. But it hasn’t worked out that way. The speech in Munich merely underscored what many US hawks and Cold Warriors had been saying from the beginning, that Putin would not relinquish Russian sovereignty without a fight.  The declaration challenging US aspirations to rule the world, left no doubt that  Putin was going to be a problem that had to be dealt with by any means necessary including harsh economic sanctions, a State Department-led coup in neighboring Ukraine, a conspiracy to crash oil prices, a speculative attack of the ruble, a proxy war in the Donbass using neo-Nazis as the empire’s shock troops, and myriad false flag operations used to discredit Putin personally while driving a wedge between Moscow and its primary business partners in Europe. Now the Pentagon is planning to send 600 paratroopers to Ukraine ostensibly to “train the Ukrainian National Guard”, a serious escalation that violates the spirit of Minsk 2 and which calls for a proportionate response from the Kremlin. Bottom line: The US is using all the weapons in its arsenal to prosecute its war on Putin.

Last week’s gangland-style murder of Russian opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov, has to be considered in terms of the larger geopolitical game that is currently underway. While we may never know who perpetrated the crime, we can say with certainly that the lack of evidence hasn’t deterred the media or US politicians from using the tragedy to advance an anti-Putin agenda aimed at destabilizing the government and triggering regime change in Moscow.  Putin himself suggested that the killing may have been a set-up designed to put more pressure on the Kremlin. The World Socialist Web Site summed up the political implications like this:

“The assassination of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov is a significant political event that arises out of the US-Russia confrontation and the intense struggle that is now underway within the highest levels of the Russian state. The Obama administration and the CIA are playing a major role in the escalation of this conflict, with the aim of producing an outcome that serves the global geo-political and financial interests of US imperialism…

It is all but obvious that the Obama administration is hoping a faction will emerge within the Russian elite, backed by elements in the military and secret police, capable of staging a “palace coup” and getting rid of Putin….

The United States is not seeking to trigger a widespread popular revolt. (But) are directed entirely at convincing a section of the oligarchy and emerging capitalist class that their business interests and personal wealth depend upon US support. That is why the Obama administration has used economic sanctions targeting individuals as a means of exerting pressure on the oligarchs as well as broader sections of the entrepreneurial elite…

It is in the context of this international power struggle that one must evaluate Nemtsov’s murder. Of course, it is possible that his death was the outcome of his private dealings. But it is more likely that he was killed for political reasons. Certainly, the timing of the killing—on the eve of the opposition’s anti-Putin demonstration in Moscow—strongly indicates that the killing was a political assassination, not a private settling of accounts.”  (Murder in Moscow: Why was Boris Nemtsov assassinated?, David North, World Socialist Web Site)

Just hours after Nemtsov was gunned down in Moscow, the western media swung into action releasing a barrage of articles suggesting Kremlin involvement without a shred of  evidence to support their claims. The campaign of innuendo has steadily gained momentum as more Russia “experts” and politicians offer their opinions about who might be responsible. Naturally, none of the interviewees veer from the official storyline that someone in Putin’s charge must have carried out the attack.  An article in the Washington Post is a good example of the tactics used in the latest PR campaign to discredit Putin.  According to Vladimir Gel’man, Political Scientists European University at St. Petersburg and the University of Helsinki:

“Boris Nemtsov, one of the leaders of political opposition, was shot dead nearby the Kremlin. In my opinion, it has all the hallmarks of a political assassination provoked by an aggressive Kremlin-induced campaign against the “fifth column of national traitors”, who opposed the annexation of Crimea, war with the West over Ukraine, and further decline of political and civil freedoms in the country. We may never know whether the Kremlin ordered this killing, but given the fact that Nemtsov was one of the most consistent critics not only of the Russian regime as such but also of Putin in person, his dissenting voice will never upset Putin and his inner circle anymore.”  (What does Boris Nemtsov’s murder mean for Russia?, Washington Post)

The article in the Washington Post is fairly typical of others published in the MSM. The coverage is invariably long on finger-pointing and insinuation and short on facts. Traditional journalistic standards of objectivity and fact-gathering have been jettisoned to advance a political agenda that reflects the objectives of ownership. The Nemtsov assassination is just the latest illustration of the abysmal state of western media.

The idea that Putin’s agents would “whack” an opposition candidate just a stone’s throw from the Kremlin is far fetched to say the least.  As one commenter at the Moon of Alabama blog noted:

“Isn’t the image of a dead political opponent lying on a bridge overlooked by the Kremlin a bit rich? I mean, short of a dagger lodged between his shoulder blades with the inscription “if found, please return to Mr Putin”, I can’t think of a more over-egged attempt at trying to implicate the Government. And on the night before an opposition rally Nemtsov hoped to lead. I mean, come on.”

While there’s no denying that Moscow could be involved, it seems unlikely. The more probable explanation is that the incident is part of a larger regime change scheme to ignite social unrest and destabilize the government. The US has used these tactics so many times before in various color-coded revolutions, that we won’t reiterate the details here. Even so, it’s worth noting that the US has no red lines when it comes to achieving its strategic goals.  It will do whatever it feels is necessary to prevail in its clash with Putin.

The question is why? Why is Washington so determined to remove Putin?

Putin answered this question himself recently at a celebration of Russia’s diplomatic workers’ day. He said Russia would pursue an independent foreign policy despite pressure in what he called “today’s challenging international environment.”

“No matter how much pressure is put on us, the Russian Federation will continue to pursue an independent foreign policy, to support the fundamental interests of our people and in line with global security and stability.” (Reuters)

This is Putin’s unforgivable crime, the same crime as Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria and countless other nations that refuse to march in lockstep to Washington’s directives.

Putin has also resisted NATO encirclement and attempts by the US to loot Russia’s vast natural resources. And while Putin has made every effort to avoid a direct confrontation with the US, he has not backed down on issues that are vital to Russia’s national security, in fact, he  has pointed out numerous times not only the threat that encroaching NATO poses to Moscow, but also the lies that preceded its eastward expansion. Here’s Putin at Munich again:

“I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: “the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee….

Where are these guarantees?”

Where, indeed. Apparently, they were all lies.  As political analyst Pat Buchanan said in his article “Doesn’t Putin Have a Point?”:

Though the Red Army had picked up and gone home from Eastern Europe voluntarily, and Moscow felt it had an understanding we would not move NATO eastward, we exploited our moment. Not only did we bring Poland into NATO, we brought in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and virtually the whole Warsaw Pact, planting NATO right on Mother Russia’s front porch. Now, there is a scheme afoot to bring in Ukraine and Georgia in the Caucasus, the birthplace of Stalin….

… though Putin gave us a green light to use bases in the old Soviet republics for the liberation of Afghanistan, we now seem hell-bent on making those bases in Central Asia permanent.

… through the National Endowment for Democracy, its GOP and Democratic auxiliaries, and tax-exempt think tanks, foundations, and “human rights” institutes such as Freedom House,… we have been fomenting regime change in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, and Russia herself….

These are Putin’s grievances. Does he not have a small point?” “(Doesn’t Putin Have a Point?”, Pat

Now the US wants to deploy its missile defense system to Eastern Europe, a system which–according to Putin “will work automatically with and be an integral part of the US nuclear capability. For the first time in history, and I want to emphasize this, there are elements of the US nuclear capability on the European continent. It simply changes the whole configuration of international security…..Of course, we have to respond to that.”

How can Putin allow this to happen?  How can he allow the US to situate nuclear weapons in a location that would increase its first-strike capability and undermine the balance of deterrents allowing the US to force Russia to follow its orders or face certain annihilation. Putin has no choice but to resist this outcome, just as has no choice but to oppose the principle upon which US expansion is based, the notion that the Cold War was won by the US, therefore the US has the right to reshape the world in a way that best suits its own economic and geopolitical interests. Here’s Putin again:

“What is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term,  it refers to a type of situation where there is one center of authority, one center of force, one center of decision-making.   It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. At the end of the day, this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within…

I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today’s world…. the model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilization…” (Munich, 2007)

What sort of man talks like this? What sort of man talks about “the moral foundations for modern civilization” or invokes FDR in his address?

Putin:  “‘Security for one is security for all’. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said during the first few days that the Second World War was breaking out: ‘When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger.’ These words remain topical today.”

I urge everyone to watch at least the first 10 minutes of Putin’s speech and decide for themselves whether they think the characterization (and demonization) of Putin in the media is fair or not. And pay special attention to Minute 6 where Putin says this:

We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?” (Vladimir Putin’s legendary speech at Munich Security Conference)

While Putin is making this statement, the camera pans to John McCain and Joe Lieberman who are sitting stone-faced in the front row seething at every word uttered by the Russian president. If you look close enough, you can see the steam emerging from McCain’s ears.

This is why Washington wants regime change in Moscow. It’s because Putin refuses to be pushed around by the United States. It’s because he wants a world that is governed by international laws that are impartially administered by the United Nations. It’s because he rejects a “unipolar” world order where one nation dictates policy to everyone else and where military confrontation becomes the preferred way for the powerful to impose their will on the weak.

Putin:  “Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts…The United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way….And of course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasize this — no one feels safe.” Vladimir Putin, Munich 2007

Putin isn’t a perfect man. He has his shortcomings and flaws like everyone else. But he appears to be a decent person who has made great strides in restoring Russia’s economy after it was looted by agents of the US following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He has lifted living standards,  increased pensions,  reduced poverty, and improved education and health care which is why his public approval ratings are currently hovering at an eye-watering 86 percent.  Even so, Putin is most admired for standing up to the United States and blocking its strategy to pivot to Asia. The proxy war in Ukraine is actually a struggle to thwart Washington’s plan to break up the Russian Federation, encircle China, control the flow of resources from Asia to Europe,  and rule the world.   Vladimir Putin is at the forefront of that conflagration which is why he has gained the respect and admiration of people around the world.

As for “democracy”, Putin said it best himself:

“Am I a ‘pure democrat’? (laughs) Of course I am. Absolutely. The problem is that I’m all alone, the only one of my kind in the whole world. Just look at what’s happening in    America, it’s terrible—torture, homeless people, Guantanamo, people detained without trial or investigation.     And look at  Europe—harsh treatment of demonstrators, rubber bullets and tear gas used in one capital after another, demonstrators killed on the streets….. I have no one to talk to since Gandhi died.”

Well said, Vladimir.

Fonte: Conter Punch

Samper propone eliminar bases militares estadounidenses de Latinoamérica


Ernesto Samper propuso que la Cumbre de las Américas sirva para replantear las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Latinoamérica, y que “un buen punto de la nueva agenda de relaciones sería que no haya bases militares norteamericanas en Suramérica”, algo que “pertenece a la época de la Guerra Fría”.

La evolución de las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Suramérica, según el ex presidente colombiano (1994-1998), debería llevar a descartar las expresiones de unilateralismo y las “certificaciones” estadounidenses en materias como los derechos humanos o la lucha contra las drogas, entre otros aspectos.

Esos posicionamientos “van en contravía de lo que debe ser, a mi juicio, el marco básico para un entendimiento, que es una especie de reconocimiento del multilateralismo como escenario de relaciones”, aseveró.

“En un mundo globalizado como el actual uno no puede pedir reglas de juego globales para la economía y mantener el unilateralismo para la política. Ningún país tiene derecho a juzgar la conducta del otro ni muchísimo menos a imponerle sanciones o castigos por su propia cuenta”, dijo Samper, citado por la agencia Efe, en clara alusión a lo decidido recientemente por Washington contra Venezuela.

El responsable de la Unasur consideró contradictorio “que un país que no ha ingresado al sistema interamericano (de Derechos Humanos) formalmente se reserve el derecho a hacer juicios”, sobre el estado de estos derechos en otros territorios.

La relación entre Venezuela y EEUU, muy debilitada tras la retirada mutua de embajadores en 2010, se ha agravado después de que el presidente estadounidense, Barack Obama, declarara a principios de mes una “emergencia nacional” por la “amenaza” que representa la situación en Venezuela para la seguridad de su país e impusiera sanciones a siete funcionarios venezolanos.

Samper sostuvo que sería oportuno “aprovechar la Cumbre de las Américas” que se celebrará en abril en Panamá, para hacer un replanteo de las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (Unasur).

Reconoció que las expectativas de esa cumbre se centran en un eventual encuentro entre el presidente de Cuba, Raúl Castro y Obama, pero sostuvo que al margen del interés mediático de ese encuentro, cuando se trate las relaciones cubano-estadounidenses, no se puede soslayar temas como el levantamiento del bloqueo a la isla o el de la base norteamericana de Guantánamo.

Sobre el papel de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), en el contexto de la actual tensión entre Venezuela y Estados Unidos, Samper consideró que ese organismo puede hacer una contribución importante para el acercamiento entre ambos países, algo que también forma parte de la agenda de la Unasur.

El marco de actuación del bloque suramericano en este contencioso, comentó, se basa en la apertura de espacios de diálogo y en tratar de evitar la polarización y la denuncia mediática, y también aseguró que la Unasur consulto a “dos o tres personas importantes de la región para que colaboren” en una “tarea de acercamiento” entre Washington y Caracas.

Se trata de personalidades “de mucha credibilidad en la región” que han mostrado “buena voluntad” ante el planteamiento formulado, que implicaría “un papel activo” de mediación, agregó Samper sin dar a conocer los nombres de esos eventuales mediadores, pertenecientes al mundo de la política.

Samper también dijo que el plan de la Unasur en este asunto se centra en el acompañamiento en las elecciones que se prevén para este año, donde los venezolanos “podrán dirimir sus diferencias”, además de “asegurar el debido respeto en los procesos judiciales” de los opositores encarcelados y “de todo el mundo”, explicó Samper.

Junto a ello, es importante favorecer vías de abastecimiento de productos básicos a Venezuela, algo en lo que trabajan los 12 países de la Unasur, remarcó.

Además, agregó que la agenda de las relaciones debe incluir “otros temas, no solamente los que le interesan interesan a Estados Unidos” y entre ellos figurarían algunos de aquellos en los que trabaja en la actualidad la Unasur, como la inclusión social, la reducción de asimetrías, la protección de los migrantes suramericanos, la participación ciudadana y la competitividad.

“Hemos encontrado más receptividad en Europa para muchos temas, como medioambiente, equidad de genero o derechos humanos, que la que se ha encontrado en los años recientes en Estados Unidos.”, aseguró el secretario de la Unasur.

Por su parte, el presidente venezolano, Nicolás Maduro, dijo hoy, citado por el diario caraqueño El Universal, que aprovechará la cumbre de Las Américas en Panamá para hacer entrega a la delegación de Estados Unidos de “las 10 millones de firmas de venezolanos” que exigen se levanten las sanciones.

Fonte: Portal ALBA

CrossTalk: Viva Venezuela!

‘A Venezuela não ameaça os EUA, mas a Rússia sim’, diz especialista em América Latina

A afirmação é do professor de Relações Internacionais da PUC Minas Javier Vadell que diz que a análise da questão do país governado por Nicolás Maduro deve ser feita no contexto geopolítico

Redação Brasil Econô

A escalada de tensões entre Estados Unidos e Venezuela deve ser lida no contexto geopolítico global, considerando as trocas comerciais, sobretudo de armamentos, da Rússia e da China com o país governado por Nicolás Maduro. A análise é do professor de Relações Internacionais da PUC Minas Javier Vadell, especialista em América Latina. Ele diz que ao classificar a Venezuela como uma ameaça à segurança dos EUA, o governo Obama cometeu um erro. Isso pode reforçar a retórica nacionalista do líder chavista.

“Maiores sanções americanas ao regime de Maduro poderiam jogar de vez a Venezuela nos braços de Rússia e China, o que não seria muito inteligente”, diz Vadell

Foto:  Divulgação

Os superpoderes dados ao presidente Nicolás Maduro representam uma ameaça à democracia?

É preciso lembrar que esta autonomia ao Executivo foi outorgada com relação à questões de segurança e vai até o final do ano. Isso não é incomum nas democracias latino-americanas, sobretudo em momentos de crise. Já aconteceu na própria Venezuela, aconteceu na Argentina de Carlos Menem, e no Peru de Alberto Fujimori. No Brasil, a noção de medida provisória foi introduzida no período Fernando Henrique Cardoso também para autorizar o poder Executivo a decidir sobre temas de competência do poder Legislativo. Agora, no caso da Venezuela, não chega a ser inconstitucional porque está previsto na lei. Claramente,o posicionamento americano de tratar a Venezuela como uma ameaça à segurança dos EUA catalisou a crise. Vejo isso com estranheza porque há pouco tempo o próprio Obama disse o contrário. Essa retórica diferente enseja uma mudança de prática. Não custa lembrar que da última vez que os EUA fizeram isso foi com relação à Granada e ao Panamá, onde houve invasão. Não digo que acontecerá, mas o fato é que a retórica não se encerra em si.

O Sr. acha que a postura dos EUA dá subsídio ao nacionalismo venezuelano, fortalecendo Maduro?

Sim. A Venezuela passa por uma crise econômica grave. É um país muito dependente do petróleo e viu o barril cair para a casa dos US$ 50, sendo que estava acima dos US$ 100 a relativamente pouco tempo atrás. Essa fragilidade econômica trouxe uma crise de legitimidade parcial porque NicolásMaduro continua com o apoio de grande parte da população e das Forças Armadas, o que não é pouca coisa. Nesse contexto, essa mudança de retórica de Washington fortalece o elemento nacionalista e pode provocar um efeito contrário ao desejado, aglutinando ainda mais o regime frente à cruzada anti-bolivariana liderada pelos EUA.

Foi um erro de Washington?

Sim, foi um erro da política externa de Obama. Não tem muito sentido essa ameaça. Mas há um fator extra-regional nesse caleidoscópio que é o apoio técnico militar e a venda de armas, principalmente da Rússia, mas também da China à Venezuela. O discurso de Obama não é feito em relação ao perigo venezuelano, mas sim em relação à ingerência russa no continente. Já estão acontecendo exercícios militares com assessoria de Moscou , o que é normal quando se quer testar equipamentos novos. Mas isso pesou. Não podemos analisar a questão da Venezuela fora do contexto geopolítico que assiste a um agravamento das tensões entre as potências em torno da Ucrânia. Nesse sentido, maiores sanções americanas ao regime de Maduro poderiam jogar de vez a Venezuela nos braços da Rússia e da China, o que não seria muito inteligente da parte americana.

A oposição venezuelana teme que a concentração de poderes ameace as eleições legislativas este ano. Faz sentido?

A Venezuela tem um histórico de institucionalidade democrática, inclusive sob Hugo Chávez. Portanto, não vejo indícios de que as eleições legislativas poderiam não acontecer. Não há precedentes para tal. A oposição quer se antecipar a um eventual auto-golpe de Maduro para se perpetuar no poder. Mas não vejo como isso poderia ser positivo para ninguém. Criaria um ambiente de tensão e de guerra civil. Por ora, tudo indica que essa retórica nacionalista apenas vai ser explorada por Maduro para obter maioria já nesse pleito . O regime vai se vitimizar frente à ameaça imperialista para se fortalecer.

Analistas apontam o Brasil como a potência diplomática capaz de mediar as tensões nas Américas. Como o Sr. vê isso?

Faz todo o sentido, mas o Brasil está um pouco ausente da política regional. Além disso, essa liderança brasileira tem de se dar no âmbito da Unasul (União de Nações Sul-Americanas) que, inclusive, já apelou aos EUA para que retirem essa qualificação de ameaça e possíveis sanções para aliviar as tensões. Mas o Brasil deixou de lado a política externa nos últimos meses<MC0>, talvez em função das convulsões domésticas. Isso fez com que o nosso país perdesse um pouco do protagonismo em questões regionais para o Equador, do presidente Rafael Correa.<MC0> Esta é uma oportunidade para a Unasul se consolidar no continente e para o Brasil fazer o mesmo dentro do bloco. Mas isso está muito lento, muito verde.

As tensões com a Venezuela podem atrapalhar a reaproximação entre EUA e Cuba?

Não acho. Embora Cuba já tenha se posicionado a favor da Venezuela, acho que as embaixadas serão reabertas. Essa negociação tem sido bem pragmática.

Colaborou o estagiário Gabriel Vasconcelos

Fonte: Brasil Econômico