Bheki Gila says Venezuela has marched far along an arduous path of seeking and probing its true identity. Photo: Supplied
Bheki Gila says Venezuela has marched far along an arduous path of seeking and probing its true identity. Photo: Supplied

Venezuela's point of no return: All have to cross the Rubicon

By Bheki Gila Time of article published Feb 18, 2019

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CAPE TOWN – The Rubicon moment to cast a die is always very historic. And quite contrary to common belief, it is not a fortuitous moment of political bravura where every leader can bedazzle his or her countrymen and countrywomen just so not to miss the opportunity before the end of their political term.

Crafted out of events in the northern border of Rome in the days predating modern Italy, crossing the Rubicon has more to do with the events that precede it. The events ensure that there are no other alternatives, leaving only one fateful but inevitable option - a point of no return.

Venezuela has marched far along an arduous path of seeking and probing its true identity.

The country has rummaged through military experiments, dictatorships, short-lived interludes of democracy, with each strain of the identity-seeking affirmation, causing as it did, social turbulence and remonstration, honestly wondering why the importance of other contributors to the mix are diminished in the kaleidoscope that makes up the colourful yet complex Venezuelan tapestry.

So many factors have contributed towards the political melodrama that is brewing with ferocity in Venezuela, the majority of which predates the discovery of oil.

The “nectar from Caburgua” as described by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdez in 1535, provided definition to the Venezuelan state and its people.

It defined the fate of presidencies from Vicente Gomez to Nicolas Maduro so much so that each definition marked an epoch and firmly planted a seed for its people. A seed very much like the Schrödinger cat. It was for ruin as it was for prosperity both at the same time.

It is no exaggeration that whilst the political instability since 1830 was the dynamite, oil became the dry wick to the mix, waiting for an incendiary.

There is a certain level of conspiracy between the natural elements necessary to create a category five hurricane out of the concoction of a turbulent vortex.

The time of year, the warmth of the waters, the direction it would take, the strength or otherwise its weakness, are some of the ingredients without which no perfect storm is possible. Yet, with all these ingredients in place, everything else is left to God’s timing and the cantankerous instincts of Donald Trump.

Venezuelans have reached a tipping point. Just like in a perfect storm, there is only one way to go. For the hurricane, it is a landfall. For the Venezuelans, the die is cast, or as in the coinage of the Rubicon legend, “... alea iacta est.”

And at the rendezvous of the tipping point, Venezuela brought everyone along and for one reason only. There is no going back. There can be no return to the Chavez days or early Maduro years. Juan Guaidó knows it. The majority of the Venezuelans have been agitating for it. And Maduro has no doubt about it. Something uncertain is about to happen.

Political pundits, prophets and media analysts are curious about the new entrant into the fray, the US.

In quick steps, they have slapped sanctions on the sale and purchase of Venezuelan oil. There are also contemplated moves against Venezuela-produced gold. Food parcels and other humanitarian relief logistics are on their way to Cucuta. We have seen this movie before. It seldom has a pleasant denouement.

Considering that in so many of the Latin American countries, the US had to use clandestine methods to influence the politics, this would be the first time where Uncle Sam is directly invited by what seemingly is a majority of the population.

But that would not spell the end of it. It only marks a complex beginning that reminds the Trump administration to revert to the jingoistic Monroe Doctrine and intervene in that crisis in any which way only they would deem fit.

They would most likely send humanitarian relief, invest in the oil and gold sectors, send in troops to protect their interests and simply forget to leave. They have not left Germany, South Korea, Japan or anywhere else they have ever brought in their military hardware.

At this moment of political advance of both the crisis and the speed of change on the ground, it would be impossible to disinvite the Americans.

The Americans for their part may at their election suffocate Venezuela’s economy until it asphyxiates out of existence. They can wait it out. Maduro and his administration for their part, despite the military drills, are not looking forward to a military confrontation with the US. It is unwise to go to war on the strength of bankruptcy.

War is too expensive a proposition for a Venezuela that is struggling to keep its lights on. The other possibility is that the US and its allies in the region could provoke Venezuela to do something outrageous and so provide justification for an attack that would result in a human catastrophe of unspeakable proportions.

Unlike Caesar and his Rubicon decision on the banks of the Eponymous river, Venezuela will teach the world a new political paradigm.

In their case, everybody involved must cross the Rubicon. If there is a war, they must all partake in it. Guaidó in his naïveté, is enjoined to make the fateful crossing.

So is Maduro, whatever his excuses are. As for the Colombians and the indignation of their leaders directed at the Chavistas, they are bound to cross the Pamplonita in aid of the thongs of desperate Venezuelans who have amassed at their border. Add the Americans too.

Most importantly, however, it is the Venezuelans who are bound to cross the Rubicon. All of them at once, no matter the colour of their political affiliation. The moment doth arriveth and they cannot dither any longer. Into a deep uncertainty, they must go. Haunted by the prophetic words of Juan Pablo Alfonzo Perez, their die is cast.

Alea iacta est...!

Bheki Gila is a Barrister-at-Law. The views expressed here are his own.


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