Political scientist Julio M. Shiling denounces the impunity of socialism and the passivity of the United States in responding to crises such as those in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
The Iberosphere faces the challenge of overthrowing three socialist dictatorships without strong U.S. support.
The brutal wave of repression in Cuba against demonstrators demanding answers to the socio-political and economic crisis on the island has forced the White House administration to focus its attention on a troubled region that has not been among its priorities, exacerbated in the last year and a half by pandemics, migration and repression by authoritarian regimes accused of committing crimes against humanity.
The region has managed to position itself on the Biden administration's radar thanks to two main issues: migration from the countries that make up the Northern Triangle [Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador] -which has caused a serious crisis on the southern U.S. border-; and the repressive response of the Castro regime to the protests and the isolation of the Cuban people with Internet censorship to prevent documentation of the repression. To this last point must be added the pressure from Cuban exiles and their elected representatives.
Before July 11, the day the protests began in Cuba in more than 40 cities, the United States showed some interest in the migration, mainly Central American, and in the issue of Venezuela due to the overflowing exile that exceeds five million people due to repression and poverty. Today the situation has changed, although some say that the United States is very passive and that more can be done.
One of those hoping for more action towards Cuba is U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who is demanding that the Biden administration support the Cuban people with access to the Internet.
"Virtual private networks can help the Cuban people deal with the regime's blockade, but they do nothing if they cut off Internet access. The technology exists to provide cellular and satellite service from balloons and other methods directly to those without Internet access. But that won't happen in Cuba unless the Biden administration steps up. I'm glad the president is beginning to take action, but he must do more to help the people of Cuba secure uncensored access to the Internet," Rubio said.
"A tragedy." This is how political analyst and author of "Dictatorships and their Paradigms", Julio M. Shiling, describes the passivity of the United States in responding to crises such as those in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
The expert assures that this is a bipartisan phenomenon.
"It is not focused on one government or one party, it is a phenomenon that is more accentuated in certain administrations, an attitude adverse to the interests of promoting freedom and democracy", he stresses.
Although other countries such as Chile and Colombia have been accused of repressing protests, the difference lies in the fact that they are nations with democratic institutions and those responsible for abuses are brought to justice. This is not the case with the three dictatorships in Latin America where impunity reigns.
Repression against opponents has become a daily whip in countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. In the first two, there is recent evidence documented by national and international human rights organizations of cruel and inhumane treatment, torture, assassinations with high caliber weapons and extrajudicial executions, facts qualified as crimes against humanity.
In Venezuela and Nicaragua, repression has left hundreds of people dead. In 2017 more than 160 people died during protests, in 2019 the death toll exceeded 35 during the January demonstrations; while in September 2020 the High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, reported that her office recorded 711 deaths in a three-month period - June to August 2020 - by security "operations" in Venezuela.
In Nicaragua, the April 2018 protests left 328 dead as a result of government repression and 150 political prisoners remain incarcerated, six of them presidential aspirants.
The response of the United States and the international community has been the designation of individual sanctions against 34 high-ranking officials and relatives of dictator Daniel Ortega.
"The great tragedy of this is the contagion effect and impact it has" at the regional level, Shiling said.
The expert exemplified the case of Venezuela, where countless cases of crimes against humanity have been documented and the response not only from the United States but also from the international community has not gone beyond "heroic pronouncements, affirmations and even certain sanctions to individuals."
"We saw in Nicaragua exactly the same thing. The impunity with which the regime acted in Venezuela extends to the Sandinista dictatorship, and it is the same message in Cuba", Shiling assured.
For the author of "Dictatorships and their Paradigms", practice has shown that a dictatorial regime acts with impunity, that it can commit crimes against humanity, "both in Castro's Cuba and in its colonies Venezuela and Nicaragua".
"The problem is not to punish a series of detestable, unmentionable individuals, this is a problem of system, laws by a series of set of phenomena that make up a government. What we are seeing is a policy of defeatism. This policy is not at all structured to promote freedom as it should be, it simply stimulates other dictatorial regimes to commit crimes against humanity with impunity", he said.
What is needed?
Shiling argues that political will is needed.
"While the previous administration [of Donald Trump] took many courageous steps, in the Cuban case it was the only administration that put into effect two chapters of the Helm Burton Act that are fundamental to safeguarding the rule of law and giving support to Americans and Cuban-Americans who were plundered by the Castro regime. It is a necessary moral position," Shiling said.
However, there are other things that can be done to get out of dictatorships that pose a threat to the region and to U.S. national security.
"U.S. state policy should be consistent in what it is to defend and promote freedom, and we are not talking here about going to manufacture nations, we are talking about overthrowing atrocious regimes that present a threat to U.S. national security starting with drug trafficking, continuing with the close relations that continental socialism has with subversive groups within the United States and its relationship with the Mexican drug cartels," she explained.
Shiling considers that the United States has plenty of reasons and U.S. intelligence has enough evidence that would validate strategic moves in Cuba as well as in Nicaragua and Venezuela.
"If we look at the most recent war scenarios we have not seen a Normandy-style invasion anywhere. Wars are being waged with very advanced technological tools that prevent a soldier from having to do the job, the machinery can do it. All these mechanisms produce proactivity. It is enough to move internal chips within these regimes the determination that what we are seeing in Cuba or what we saw in Nicaragua and Venezuela will not be tolerated. There must be a change within those dictatorial structures themselves. That is what U.S. policy should do, not with a band-aid, but with a necessary prescription," Shiling said.
So far, negotiations and sanctions against dictatorships such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba have had an effect, while that cancer is spreading to other Latin American countries.
Author: Judith Flores, Periodista e investigadora nicaragüense @FloresJudith7