I am glad I was away when the whole Snowden affair blew up, as I think it is mostly irrelevant to the problems of Venezuela. My take on the reaction of the Venezuelan Government is simple: Maduro finally found something that could become his only Hugo moment since being elected, by giving Snowden asylum and doing his own in your face insult to the US. But the moment may not come to pass and Maduro’s offer will likely be forgotten as the possibility of Snowden coming to Venezuela seems to be fading fast. I think Nico did not think well of the consequences. No, not geopolitical consequences, but how damaging for him Snowden could become if he came to Venezuela.
But in the end, it points to Maduro’s rambling policies, where he acts tough one day, light the next, clearly under pressure from all sides. He visits only accepted countries, ignoring Hugo’s circle of terror friends since he became President. He names pragmatists to Finance, but leaves the dinosaur in Planning. He removes Chavez’ brother from Corpoelec, but brings him back shortly elsewhere. He brings back ultra radical Saman,the creator of the socialist areperas, but more importantly an absolute ignoramus on economic matters. He sends Jaua to have his Disneyland photo moment with John Kerry, only to destroy the picture by offering asylum to Snowden. The asylum may never happen, but any improvement in US-Venezuela relations got thrown overboard. Maduro has been anything but consistent in his brief 90 days as President, but he did need his “smell like sulfur” Hugo moment and Snowden could have been it.
Except that if Snowden ever came to Venezuela, it would end up biting Maduro back for sure. To begin with, the international press would descend in Venezuela and dozens of articles about how the Venezuelan Government spies on its citizens would appear in the international press. Even a deaf and blind reporter from The Militant would learn about these cases and spread the word, making people wonder why the hell Snowden chose Venezuela for.
But in the end, it would be Snowden who would become the problem for the Government. The same international press would descend on him and ask him about his opinions about Venezuela. Snowden would hold press conferences and be on live international TV from Caracas and eventually the Venezuelan Government will simply say Nyet to all his political activities in favor of human rights, the lowest of rights on the Chavista totem pole of values. I am sure the shallow Mr. Snowden, shallow because the countries he chose are anything but icons of good behavior in spying and repressing their citizens, would not like to be silenced and the problems would begin. For Snowden, and for the current Venezuelan Government.
But other problems would surface even earlier, such as the fact that Mr. Snowden’s life in Venezuela is likely to be anything but the golden asylum he may be imagining. From not speaking the language, to crime, to shortages, Snowden is unlikely to find a place or a society where he would fit in, even if the Venezuelan Government were to offer to pay him to hack his way around the world. He would likely tire of living in Venezuela, which would force him to look for an alternative. But once here, no other country is likely to want to touch Snowden with a ten foot pole, so he would have to either stay put or go back to the States. And once in the States, he could talk freely about the wonderful world of Venezuelan human rights violations.
Thus, Maduro’s Hugo moment was not well thought out and now looks unlikely to happen. Meanwhile important matters continue unresolved, as his enemies from within carefully wait for the right moment to act.
And Snowden is still in Russia and seems further and further away from ever eating an arepa..