Venezuela on the verge of war
Over the past two weeks, Boulder Weekly has done a fine service in providing readers with a long column by Giselle Cesin (Re: “An insider’s view of the Venezuelan crisis,” News, March 7, 2019) and a follow-up letter by Ron Forthover (Re: “U.S. imperial plans regarding Venezuela,” Guest Column, March 21, 2019) both of which described the suffering of Venezuelans. Last week, four panelists hosted by the U.N. Association of Boulder offered further insights, one of whom rightly sobbed as she talked about the consequences to hospital patients, including infants, when electricity fails and medicines are lacking. However, each panelist blamed Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro for this crisis. And each implied that outside intervention will be required.
How might the world avoid large-scale bloodshed without relying on people such as John Bolton and Elliott Abrams? Keep in mind that Abrams was convicted of crimes during the Iran-Contra scandal and has been cited as a key architect of the Iraq war. It may be useful to recall that “hawks” such as these initiated the successful coup in Iran in 1953 where control of oil was similarly a motivating factor. The overthrow of duly elected President Mohammad Mosaddegh by the CIA and British secret services, followed by installing the Shah, eventually led to the current Iranian revolution and its on-going tragic consequences.
We must remember such failures. Versailles Treaty-like punishments, which led to the rise of Hitler, must not be pursued. Sanctions will only increase suffering. Nor should gunboat diplomacy be undertaken.
At the end of World War II, the U.S. wisely created the Marshall Plan to respond to Europe’s destruction and suffering. A mini-Marshall Plan for Venezuela is now in order, supported by the U.S. but not led by the U.S. and its “coalition of the willing.” Far better would be leadership from UNICEF, The World Health Organization and other U.N. Agencies, supplemented by support from respected non-governmental international aid groups. A good beginning would be to remove economic sanctions, which are a form of financial warfare.
In addition to securing food, medicine, clean water and other essentials, Venezuela needs help to diversify its economy rather than depending almost entirely on fossil fuels. Its agricultural sector and factory systems need strengthening. Its financial system is in shambles. Most importantly, it requires basic reforms so that the wealth of its nation is no longer funneled into the pockets of corporate and other elites.
I’m aware that some fear what the new state government might do “to” oil and gas players in Colorado. In truth I believe they have nothing to fear from Governor Polis. Remember the 300,000 ballot-proposal petition signatures he destroyed?
My idea to require oil and gas drillers to own the properties where they operate remains primary to my interest. This wouldn’t change pipeline rules, though a certain house explosion in Firestone loudly recommends additional oversight for every underground device and conveyance. It is high time for oil exploration including reworking and re-fracturing to be conducted on parcels owned by the operating entity. That way this entity is “in title” and can be on the hook for environmental problems discovered in the future.
Currently these activities are carried out under leases granting use of “so much of the surface” as is “necessary” to the drilling, etc. In real property practices one may draft a lease stating the lessee must faithfully follow all laws. Good luck with that in Colorado. If counties (and, where necessary, municipalities) would zone with strict delineation of uses by right, then industrial activities on agricultural and even (Heaven forbid!) residential tracts could be specifically referred to in leases.
One may point out, considering that environmental enforcement has declined by 85 percent under the current national administration, holding oil and gas feet to the CERCLA fire may seem like a (pardon) pipe dream. But it only took a handful of Superfund cases to straighten out the chemical industry, so why not consider a better way? Then, when operations cease, let’s see these guys try to sell those properties. Then everyone would know how much impairment has actually occurred.