Policy Memo to Jovenel Moiseo

To: President Jovenel Moise
From: Marc-Ansy Laguerre
Subject: Vote at the OAS regarding Venezuela’s President’s legitimacy
Date: January 4th, 2019

Summary
During the OAS Permanent Council’s meeting that will be held on January 10th, 2019 which aims to decide whether or not the OAS recognizes Nicolas Maduro as president of Venezuela, you should not vote against Venezuela, nor abstain from voting. You should instead vote for Venezuela, which would imply that Haiti supports Maduro.

memo

Background
(1)
In 2005, Hugo Chavez, the 45th president of Venezuela, signed the agreement “Petrocaribe” which is an oil trade alliance with many countries in the Caribbean whereby member States purchase oil from Venezuela by paying a percentage in 3 months and the remainder in 25 years at only 1% of interest rate. This deal is an opportunity for Caribbean countries, including Haiti, to strengthen their economy by investing the funds in developing projects.

(2) After Chavez’s death in 2013, Nicolas Maduro served as interim president for nearly 3 months before his re-election on April 14th, 2013. Since then, he has continued the agreement Petrocaribe, which has enabled Haiti to receive nearly $ 4 billion to this day (Kim Ives). However, the money is being embezzled and squandered by Haitian officials, which has sparked political unrest since September 2018. As living conditions of the mass remains abject, infuriated mobs protest in the street and ask not only for a financial audit on the Petrocaribe’s fund but also for the government’s resignation.

(3) Meanwhile, Maduro, which had been reelected in 2018 on a contested election, is expected to renew his presidency by the end of January. However, believing the election was fraudulent, the United States is outraged and aims to reestablish democracy in Venezuela by ousting Maduro. To do this, the backing of the OAS is needed. On January 10th, the OAS’ Permanent Council will meet to take a decision on whether or not it recognizes Maduro as president. Haiti’s vote is important as two thirds of the votes is needed to disapprove Maduro’s legitimacy. Given Haiti’s close relationship with both the US and Venezuela, you must know the disadvantages and advantages of each possible choice to make the most effective vote.

Policy Option 1: Not participate in the meeting, or abstain from voting
(4)
This option calls for Haiti to take a neutral position by not participating or by withholding its vote.  To not participate means to not send your ambassador at the meeting. To abstain your vote means to participate but to decline voting for or against. These would imply that you are indifferent whether Maduro remains on power or not.

  1. Pros: Very diplomatic.
  2. Cons: Haiti would be uncooperative to the OAS; both the US and Venezuela would remain unsatisfied and mad at Haiti; aid from both sides could be reduced; Haiti would show that defending democracy in the Americas is not its priority; your government would appear irresolute because this position is ambiguous; this could hurt your reputation in Haiti as Haitians expect you to be loyal to Venezuela; it could lead to political unrest.

Policy Option 2: Vote against Venezuela
(5)
This option means that Haiti votes to not recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s President, which could result in Maduro’s disapprobation. It would imply that you are not supportive to Maduro.

  1. Pros: It would improve Haiti’s relationship with the US because it would please the Americans; Haiti could receive more American aid in the future; Haiti would appear as a more loyal defender of democracy.
  2. Cons: Haiti would betray Venezuela which has remained its loyal ally since their independences; Venezuela could break the Petrocaribe agreement with Haiti, which would leave your government with less money to invest in its projects; Political unrests could intensify because some Haitians will not tolerate you to betray Venezuela; you would be weak in their eyes because this vote is only to please the US.

Policy Option 3: Vote for Venezuela
(6)
This option calls to vote in favor of Venezuela by recognizing Maduro’s presidency. This would imply that you disagree with the US’s decision to undermine Maduro.

  1. Pros: You will appear stronger, and Haitians would be prouder of you; Venezuela would confirm Haiti’s loyalty; Venezuela may provide more funds to your government; it may appease the political unrest because Haitians would perceive you as a defender of Haiti’s interests.
  2. Cons: you will be labeled as a dictatorship supporter; the US would be furious and could reduce their aid to your government; you would be perceived like a bully because many other powerful heads of states dislike Maduro.

Recommendation
(7)
I recommend you Option 3 which is to vote for recognizing Maduro. Don’t yield to the US’s pressure, and vote against Venezuela as stated in Option 2. Haiti’s relationship with Venezuela is important to preserve. Venezuela has always been our loyal ally since after we helped them in their independence war. In addition, betraying Maduro could result in cutting the fund Petrocaribe which is highly beneficial for us. To this day, Haiti has received $4 billion from this agreement at an interest rate of 1%, which is one of the lowest rate in all loans given to Haiti. Taking a stance against Maduro would deteriorate Haiti’s relationship with Venezuela, which would hinder their generous aid to us. You may attempt to play a diplomatic game by abstaining your vote or by not participating in the meeting, but this would be the most dangerous position. If you do that, both the US and Venezuela would be dissatisfied, which would result in receiving less aid from them. In addition, you would earn some bad reputations (ambiguous, irresolute, weak) which could lead to your regime’s collapse. To avoid these, you rather vote, but it is safer to vote in favor of Maduro.

References
Andres Schipani. (April 16, 2015 Thursday). Petrocaribe: a legacy that is both blessing and a curse. FT.com. Retrieved from Nexis Uni.

Kim Yves “Haiti’s Ruling Party Betrays Venezuela in OAS Vote, Sparking Universal Outrage”. https://haitiliberte.com/haitis-ruling-party-betrays-venezuela-in-oas-vote-sparking-universal-outrage/

 

“Venezuela to Fund Development Projects in Haiti.” 2018.EFE News Service, Jul 11. http://pitt.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.pitt.idm.oclc.org/docview/2068077070?accountid=14709.

 

Author: marclaguerreblog

PhD Student in Civil Engineering at Rice University

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