GZERO World S1E25: Fallout From A Fake Democracy

GZERO World S1E25: Fallout From A Fake Democracy


If you are an opposition leader in Venezuela
and you are popular or your leadership qualities are evident, you are either legally disqualified
by the government, your party is not allowed to run in elections, you are in jail, or you are in exile. Chemical weapons attacks in Syria and an
American response. In Hungary, Prime Minister Orban wins big yet again. In Brazil, President Lula is in jail. And in Washington D.C., Mark Zuckerberg defends
his way of life. I’m Ian Bremmer, and this is your GZERO World. Here in downtown New York City. We have Moises Naim, former Minister of International
Trade for Venezuela and now running Efecto Naim. Lots to talk about – South America and an
imploding Venezuela – with him. But for now, your world this week. Syrian chemical weapons attacks. At this moment looks pretty decisively like
they came from Assad. French President Macron saying indeed he has
confidence and evidence of that. US response, international response, has not
come yet as of this moment. But almost certainly will, and probably in
military fashion. Remember, a year ago, Trump said don’t use
those chemical weapons, if you do I’m going to hit you. They did, he hit ‘em. The Russians have said that they will respond
this time around, but specifically, if you look at the statements from the Russians,
it’s if Russians are threatened. Well Trump’s already telegraphed to the
Russians that he’s going to go after Assad. If you’re a Russian and you’re at a military
base right now, you’re probably going to leave. And if you’re Syrian and you see the Russians
leaving your base? I’d probably follow them. Seems like a sensible move. The only question is what it’s going to
accomplish, right? At the end of the day, the United States does
not have a mission in Syria. Assad is still in charge. ISIS is largely destroyed, but aside from
that, we don’t have a strategy in Syria. In Hungary, we have a big win for Viktor Orban. Prime Minister now for the third time. In election polls they didn’t say they were
going to vote for Orban; they said they were going to vote for someone more respectable,
someone more establishment. Happens all the time. In the United States, in Italy, in the UK
for the Brexit vote. Then they actually show up and they say, no
no no, I want this guy who’s what I really feel like. In the case of Orban, he was going really
hard against migrants saying, sick of all these people! This was a big us vs. them moment, right? My new book “Us vs. Them: The Failure of
Globalism” is almost out. Available now for pre-order on Amazon or any
suffering bookstores near you. And in Brazil, we have presidential elections coming up. The big takeaway from Lula in jail is that
he’s not going to be able to campaign for his Workers Party, the PT, which means
the left is going to get much more fragmented. You won’t have an establishment left candidate
that’s going to win. You’re much more likely to have candidates
from the outside. The big news is not that Lula’s in jail. The big news is after the most popular political
official for years gets imprisoned, almost no social dissent, no violence, elections are moving ahead normally, the system is kind of working, and the economy’s picking up a little bit. Don’t look at what’s happening in Brazil;
look at also what’s not happening. And finally I thought Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg
did pretty well on the Hill this week. He’s worth a few billion more than he was before. For a couple days work, that’s pretty honest. And if Mark doesn’t make any big mistakes
going forward, he’s going to get off scot-free. In fact, he feels so good about this that he’s now getting ready to roll out a couple new products. We’ve got a sneak peek on one with your
Puppet Regime. We’re so excited here at Facebook To introduce a new interactive experience
that you’re all going to love. It’s called Face to Face. You get to connect directly with your audience And tell them how you feel. Here’s how it works. Hi Rick. My name is Mark. Give me your f***ing data. And I have with me in Washington D.C. here
Moises Naim. Distinguished Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace. He’s written 12 books on geopolitics, for over a decade he was editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine, and back in the nineties,
he was Minister of Development for Venezuela. Moises, wonderful to be with you. Great to be here, Ian. Thanks for inviting me. So I hate to say, I didn’t bring your last
book down with me to D.C. I have it in New York. But I did have here in Washington – I have
the “Future of Power” by Joe Nye and I have “The End of Free Market” by me. Together, you get “The End of Power,”
which is your last book, my favorite, and was also – if I could say this – Mark Zuckerberg’s
first ever recommended book out there. Popped as a consequence in a pretty big way. There is a proliferation of people looking
at what’s happening to power. My own take, which is the end of power, is
not that power is ending. Power is there. It’s that what’s happening is that power
in the 21st century has become easier to acquire, harder to use, and easier to lose. You were in government in Venezuela in the 90s. Chavez comes. Now we have Maduro. How did we get to this disastrous point? It is very important to remember that when
Chavez, President Chavez was in power and oil was at more than $100 per barrel, Venezuela
had already very damaging shortages of everything. There was already a crisis brewing that was – you know, the revenues were there, but what was happening was that production, the
number of barrels of oil produced per day was declining because of corruption, because
of mismanagement, because of lack of investment, because of not running the oil company. They nationalized the oil company effectively. So Maduro did nothing. Maduro just – President Chavez died and Maduro,
he was – he was anointed. Maduro was anointed by Chavez. Of course, there was an election to legitimize
Maduro and Maduro won. Surprise, surprise. And then Maduro essentially has done nothing to change the policies that were initially launched by Hugo Chavez. So what we’re seeing today is more a Chavez-made
crisis than a Maduro-made crisis. What’s the world missing about Venezuela today? The world is missing the extent of the crisis. And the nature of the crisis is quite unique. In the last year, three out of four Venezuelans
lost 22 pounds in weight because of hunger. Venezuela has the highest inflation in the world. It’s hyperinflation. According to the IMF in 2018 it’s going to be 13,000%. And that is very hard even to imagine. It is has the highest – one of the highest
murder rates in the world. It is a failed state. Under Chavez, Venezuela was democratic. The average Venezuelan would have
supported his election. Under Maduro, you can’t say that anymore. The genius part of Chavez is that he made
people, highly sophisticated people, believe that there was a democracy. He was the first. He was a pioneer in being an autocrat disguised
as a democrat. What needs to happen for the regime to start
to actually crack? Because from the outside at least, it doesn’t
appear that that’s happening so far. Countries never hit rock bottom. The notion that there is a floor, that countries
decline and the problems are – become almost unbearable and that
therefore there is a tipping point. Well no, we – you, you’re a follower of
geopolitics and politics around the world. You have seen many countries where you have
said, wow, this cannot be sustained. And yet it continues to decline. And so it’s very hard. Normally what happens in these kind of regimes
is that they start cracking when there is intra-elite conflict, where people that are
running these – it’s not that there’s a correction and the opposition takes over and a more democratic opposition more open to the world takes over. No. That almost never happens. What typically happens is that the clique,
the elite, the oligarchy that is in power starts fighting with each other, either for
the spoils or, you know, trying to control power or grab power from one another. And so that is when eventually things start
to fall apart for the elites. This is already starting to affect countries
around Venezuela. Going beyond the borders we see refugees in
Colombia and in Peru and in Chile and in Brazil. Could we potentially see an equivalent to what we’ve seen out of Syria in the Middle East and in Europe? Yes, without the chemical weapons and the bombings and the barrel bombs and the actual – the genocide – Sure, but the refugee situation. But in sheer terms of the numbers, the numbers
of people, Venezuelans that have emigrated. Their numbers are more or less the same. It’s about four million Venezuelans that are
now – sought refuge elsewhere. What does it mean for countries around Venezuela? They feel overwhelmed as Jordan and Iraq and
others – and Lebanon have felt overwhelmed by the inflow of Syrian refugees. In this case, Colombia big time. Brazil big time. But even the tiny islands around Venezuela – Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao – people are taking rafts and very rickety boats and just
going to these islands that are very, very small. And the big demonstrations we see, is that
just grassroots? Those were student-driven protests. They were one of these new kind, Arab Spring
kind of street marches in which they are spontaneous, there is no clear leadership, there is no
structure or organization. There’s not hierarchies. These are students, young people, fed up,
taking to the streets and confronting the riot police. Now the United States has imposed some sanctions. There’s been talk about energy sanctions. Maybe – Trump very briefly said maybe we could
do the “military option.” He backed away from that. Is there anything credible the United States could do that would truly make a difference in
Venezuela right now? Well, Trump said that the military option
was on the table. And that created in Venezuela a huge expectation,
which was irresponsible. If you talk to the people at the Pentagon,
and General Mattis has been very clear that he’s very busy trying to organize for other
potential military conflicts that are on the cards, that are more directly related to the national interests of the United States and their present dangers. Military is irresponsible, not going to happen. There’s nothing you can do on the energy side. Is there anything left for the United States? Yes. Go after the money that they have stolen. We are talking about oligarchs that are Russia-sized. We’re talking about government officials that
have stolen and have accumulated fortunes that rank among the highest in the world. So – Who have assets outside of Venezuela. Hiding their assets – including in the United
States, paradoxically. And one country we haven’t talked about in
this constellation is China, which historically had provided an awful lot of credit for Venezuela. They’re clearly getting less interested in
doing so going forward. Are they a relevant player today in Venezuela? They are but much less than in the past. In the past they were very effective and active,
funding the Venezuelan government. And Hugo Chavez was very persuasive. And he sold them oil, so there is a big oil – a part of oil committed to the Chinese, because the Chinese bought it in advance and
paid in advance. They have a huge problem with collecting
on their debts. I think they wrote off a significant part
of the debt. But you know, China was essentially the best client for Venezuelan oil, and then a very important financier. That’s no longer the case. The other big player that is becoming more
and more important – to everybody’s surprise – is Russia. Who would have said, right? So during the Chavez regime, Russia was a
very important supplier of arms. So Venezuela was essentially a client that
bought their weapons systems. Then they have to pay for those and then Russia
became – started funding that. Started creating financial mechanisms to get paid. That did not work perfectly and there was
a problem, so they – the government of Venezuela offered them to go and operate some of the
oilfields that were not working well. And the Russian companies have tried to start operating some of the Venezuelan fields but with no success. And now, the Russians see an opportunity to
create a Syria-like intervention. Do you see the potential for a military base? No, but why not have more Russian navy vessels
going to Venezuela to refuel and have a presence? Such a pleasure to take a tour around the
region with you. Moises Naim, the GZERO World. Good to see you my friend. Thank you. That’s your GZERO World this week. Come back next week. We have Lara Setrakian. She’s the founder of Syria Deeply, now News Deeply. Exactly the right person to talk to about
that deeply troubled corner of the world.

3 Comments on "GZERO World S1E25: Fallout From A Fake Democracy"


  1. Smart guy. going to left this comment hear in case any maduro zealot shows up hear. Dont want to miss whats stupid things going to comment.

    Reply

  2. Thanks for posting all the related links. So helpful. I’m now following Moises Naim on twitter.

    Reply

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