Nicolas Maduro had a bad week. A terrible week. He had gone to China for a week to sign agreements, do some tourism and be toasted as the leader of all Venezuelans. But instead of receiving the full Chávez treatment, he got the quickie tour.
Yes, he got US$ 5 billion as an extension to the Heavy Chinese Fund in which Venezuela sends oil, the Chinese send us trinkets. Yes, he signed a bunch of agreements, most of them giving the Chinese rights to exploit, explore or sell Venezuela something. But when it came time to ask for US$ 5 billion in cash, there was nothing doing. Los chinos se hicieron el chino. *
Even worse, the Chinese leaders did not even consider Maduro’s proposal. Not even looked at the papers, meeting was over. Trip was over, as far as the Chinese leaders were concerned. Maduro and his hundred-plus entourage could continue touring, buying high quality fakes and eating dim sum, but the visit was finita. There would be no long talks with Nicolas and the Chinese leaders like there were with Hugo, no more banquets, no more grand strategy sessions. It was 再见 (zai jian, goodbye) time.
It was unclear who goofed, who or what made Maduro believe that there could be a cash loan, given the reluctance of the Chinese to even extend the loan for trinkets Heavy Fund US$ 5 billion loan. It’s a new leadership in China and a new leadership in Venezuela.
And after one more day of sightseeing, Maduro said, let’s go home.
It has been downhill since then.
First there was a stop in Canada, Vancouver to be more precise, where there was a refusal to sell jet fuel to Maduro’s plane because it was Cuban. Maduro had to wait for six hours for PDVSA planes to come and refuel his Cubana plane. It was during that time that they realized that there could be legal problems in New York with the Cuban plane. Maduro decided to cancel the UN visit, despite the fact that, once again, the ugly Americans had speedily approved the change of plans.
In his first public statement arriving in Venezuela, Maduro said he had canceled the UN visit because it would be dangerous for him, suggesting some Republicans were plotting against him. The story later was changed to suggesting the Cuban plane could be impounded.
Maduro thus arrived in Caracas barely five days after leaving for a twelve day trip and even worse, the refusal of the Chinese to lend more money was leaked and Maduro tried to make it look as if the trip was a success. Except the money for the Junin 1 heavy crude field was not new either, nor would it come anytime soon. So, Maduro began hailing all of the agreements with CITIC, the Chinese investment firm, which Maduro kept saying was the technology branch of the Chinese Government. So, after signing thirteen agreements with CITIC, Maduro did no get it that CITIC is out to make a profit and is no high tech powerhouse.
Maduro then tried to get his Unasur buddies condemn the US for boycotting his visit to the United Nations, which was not done, as the US showed some countries proof that the Venezuelan Government had fumbled all flight requests, despite which all had been approved in record time. I guess when you are giving less money away, you lose some formerly unconditional friends.
And as news of the gigantic drug catch in Paris on the Air France plane were disseminated, which showed high level and extensive involvement by the Venezuelan military, Maduro tried to make a big deal of suing french-British consortium Airbus for faulty repair of his Presidential plane, suggesting there was something ominous behind it. But Airbus noted it does not perform the repair or maintenance on the planes.
The week was finally closed with Foreign Minister Jaua intervening in the UN Assembly in Maduro’s place. Jaua made his speech all about Maduro´s trip difficulties, not before recreating Chavez’ statement seven years ago by saying “It still smells like sulfur here”. Never mind that Chávez was referring to George W. Bush at the time, who had spoken the day before and that on the same day. But additionaly, hours earlier Obama was talking to Iranian President Rouhani in the first direct talks between the two Presidents since 1979. Talk about Jaua being out of touch, he is no Chávez, has no historical understanding and by the time he was done, most leaders had left. His was the last speech of the 68th. Assembly.
It was indeed the worst of times for Maduro this week, as by now he appears to believe his own speech that his policies are fine and is all part of a conspiracy to “Snatch the Fatherland”.
Except the snatchers are those around him and not those he is accusing. And the lack of action, to say nothing of the lack of a birth certificate, is hurting his cause.
Y ahora a ver si en la India no se hacen los chinos.
*Hacerse el chino (make yourself Chinese) is a saying in Venezuela and other Latin American countries in which a person makes it appear as if it does not understand or ignores you. The phrase is also used with Swedish, instead of Chinese.