Friday, September 2, 2011

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba Still Support Gaddafi

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba Still Support Gaddafi

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba continue to be the staunchest supporters of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega have both declared that they w ill not abandon Gaddafi in this time of crisis.. Chavez has actually stated that he will continue to recognize only his friend Gaddafi as the legitimate leader of Libya, whereas Ortega has already offered him asylum.
On August 23, soon after the Libyan rebels entered Gaddafi's main stronghold of the Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, Chavez declared that for Venezuela, there is "only one government, the one led by Muammar Gaddafi." He then criticized NATO's bombardment by saying that the West has not respected international law: "This is kicking, spitting ... on the most basic elements of international law […] Where are the international rights? This is like the caveman era. […] Now [U.S. President Barack] Obama said he will collaborate economically with the new [Libyan] government, which of course we do not recognize. […] It's harsh but true ... They [the U.S.] arranged this war. They provided the arms, the mercenaries. They had better not attempt to apply the Libyan formula to Venezuela or we'll have to show them our power," he said.
According to the Venezuelan paper, El Universal, the fall of Gaddafi's mean the defeat of Chavez. "At a time when even the Arab League has expressed its full support to the Libyan Transitional National Council, the Venezuelan government is the only administration that has publicly deplored the fall of Muammar Gaddafi regime," El Universal writes. Professor Demetrio Boersner, an expert in foreign affairs and former Venezuelan ambassador, told the Venezuelan paper that Chavez has been supporting Gaddafi so feverishly that his fall will be a "political defeat for him vis-à-vis the country and the international opinion." In Boersner's view, the toppling of Gaddafi is therefore a "geopolitical blow" for Chavez and for his political ambitions, "because Chavezism pursued the goal of creating a global alliance of nationalist socialism in Third World countries under the rule of autocrats."
As a consequence of the friendship between Chavez and Gaddafi, the Venezuelan embassy in Libya was sacked by the rebels. On the 25th of August, the Venezuelan President informed that the Embassy in Tripoli "was assaulted and totally looted." After the uprising, the stadium in Benghazi that was named after Chavez was given the new name of "Martyrs of February Stadium."
At the beginning of August, Gaddafi sent a letter to Chavez to thank him for his support: "I highly value your noble position in support of the Libyan people, as well as the leaders and revolutionaries of Latin America and the Caribbean. We hope to count on that support continuing," Gaddafi wrote. In response, Chavez sent Gaddafi a letter praising his courage: "May the Almighty, clement and merciful one bless you and take care of you; may He bless and protect the heroic and honorable Libyan people; a strong embrace shall go to you, Muammar, with the top, endless feeling of brotherhood. Long live the Libyan people; long live you, my combatant brother. Libya shall live and shall win!" he wrote.
The economic adviser to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Bayardo Arce, said that his government would give asylum to Gaddafi if he asked for it. However, the AP reported that Arce was rather pessimistic that Gaddafi would go to Nicaragua. "I do not know how Gaddafi could get here from Libya, because we do not have an embassy in Libya," Arce said during a TV interview.
Costa Rica seems to be quite scared and disappointed by the possibility that Nicaragua would host Gaddafi. The website Inside Costa Rica reports that a statement by Costa Rica's Foreign Ministry asked Nicaragua to close any possibility of giving him political asylum. The Foreign Ministry has also asked Central American countries to join in the call for the sake of peace and security in Latin America. In the same statement, the Ministry stresses that the government of Costa Rica hopes that the Libyan uprising succeed in defeating Gaddafi and taking the "necessary actions to ensure the transformation of an authoritarian regime to a fully democratic one, with strong and solid institutions, respect for human rights; and to promote the development of Libya in the framework of freedom and justice."
Nicaragua, however, remains loyal to its support for the Libyan Colonel. During a recent speech, the Sandinista President Ortega qualified the NATO intervention in Libya as terrorism, and stressed his support for Gaddafi. In February, when the uprising in Libya started, Ortega said he called Gaddafi on the phone to offer him support.
On August 4, the media reported that Cuban President Raul Castro met with Gaddafi's special envoy, Abdulhafid M. Zlitni, secretary of the People's General Planning and Finance Committee of Libya. Zlitni brought Raul Castro a message from Gaddafi, and also informed him about "the international campaign to isolate Libya orchestrated by Western powers." Raul Castro, for his part, condemned the NATO intervention in Libya.
Gaddafi will not go into exile in Latin America
Despite support from Latin America, it is too late for Gaddafi to ask for exile. The International Court wants to prosecute the Libyan dictator and put him on trial for crimes against humanity. If Gaddafi had surrendered in the beginning of the uprising, the international community might have accepted the possibility of his going to exile. But after the atrocities he has committed against his people in the last months, the Libyan leader might have to face a war crimes trial unless an exile can still be negotiated between the NATO forces and Gaddafi -- a plan that no one seem to be considering any more -- the Libyan leader has no way out of Libya. Col. Gaddafi's former right-hand man, Abdel-Salam Jalloud, who has recently defected to Italy, confirmed to the media that Gaddafi has no chance of leaving the capital, Tripoli, where he is allegedly hiding. "He has no way of leaving Tripoli. All the roads are blocked. He can only leave with an international agreement, and I think that door is closed," Jalloud said. Further, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini stated that, "The offers of exile were made in increasingly explicit ways many times. The deadline by now has passed, the only path left is that of justice - the justice of the ICC."

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