How US can help two democratic revolutions – Ukraine and Venezuela


Oscar-winner Jared Leto’s acceptance speech reminded us that two democratic revolutions are occurring right now, one in each hemisphere, say two key observers.

Sadly, they haven’t been paid proper attention; their meaning and potential future impact not understood, according to Martin Palous, former Czech Ambassador to the U.S. and U.N., and Dr. Jiri Valenta, president of the Institute of Post-Communist Studies and Terrorism.

Things certainly don’t look bright for the West at the current moment. Yet, surprisingly, in the present scramble for options, there is, in our view, a still unexplored means for punishing Russian aggression, they write for The Miami Herald:

The Russian navy has been flexing its muscles and itching to again project its power globally. Thus we bring into focus that other revolution, Venezuela’s. After the 2008 Russian intervention in Georgia, where Putin carved out South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a Russian naval task force was sent to the Caribbean to court its autocratic, anti-U.S. regimes. Notice that Nicaragua and Venezuela were the only countries to recognize the legitimacy of the carved out Georgian regions.

In short, the U.S. must fit both crises, Ukraine’s and Venezuela’s, into a new and comprehensive, global strategy of its own. Russian access to the naval facilities of anti-American countries in the US strategic backyard is impermissible. Helping the Venezuelan — as well as Cuban, democrats and human rights defenders — is the way to prevent it.

This is not to suggest that America should use its hard power in these countries,” say Palous and Valenta:

The time for military interventions in her “Near Abroad” is long past. What the U.S. must do is further the democratization processes, first in Venezuela, but also in Cuba and Nicaragua. Organizations like Freedom House or the National Endowment for Democracy and its grantees can help. The support of diverse programs and their increased funding should be obligatory for America.

As we have learned from Havel, military occupations by hostile forces do not last forever. The lesson of Russia´s past interventions is that peaceful resistance and the struggle for human rights generate the “power of the powerless.” In the end, freedom prevails.

Former Czech Ambassador to the U.S. and U.N. Martin Palous is Senior Fellow and Director of the Vaclav Havel Initiative for Human Rights and Diplomacy at FIU. Dr. Jiri Valenta headed a post-revolution, Czech foreign ministry think tank. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he is current president of the Institute of Post-Communist Studies and Terrorism (


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