Hugo Chavez, mediator extraordinaire.

Hugo Chavez has negotiated the return of two women from FARC. After six years those women have returned to their families. Negotiations continue for others to return. One must ask why, after years of efforts by negotiators and mediators from the North, Hugo Chavez has succeeded where others have failed.

The approach of Westerners (or rather Northerners in this case) has been somewhat typical. The Western attitude of cultural supremacy, the indignant poise, the refusal to treat a perceived subordinate as a valued and equal member of the world community, rears its ugly head. The head approaching from the North is a head full of embedded United States of America, white, capitalist, male, dominating values. It is a head seemingly disembodied from the life and blood of humanity. A head determined to oppress, extract, profit, and control. That head, linear in thought, seemingly vacant of feeling and concern for the well being of others, Cartesian in its own abstraction, does not congratulate the millions of persons in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for their young democracy, it does not offer assistance to the fledgling constitutional state, it does not congratulate Hugo Chavez for his success as a mediator and negotiator, but instead, true to its self-serving values, it condemns, vilifies, enmifies, plots and plans and waits for the moment to regain control.

It is with such embedded values that representative capitalist negotiators scratch their heads and wonder why their negotiations fail, why their mediations muddle, why their relationships turn sour. Western business values carry with them the inherent desire to dominate and profit. Those embedded values, so embedded in the Western approach as to be hidden deep in the crevices of the Western psyche, are obvious to Venezuelans and other people in the region. The transparency, the nuances, and the attitudes, interests and motives of domination stand out like caricatures, almost cartoon-like in their obviousness. The high regard with which Western capitalists (USers as Charlie Hardy would say) hold themselves is sorely misplaced in relation to the culture of Venezuela and ‘Latin’ America generally. U.S. ‘professionalism’ and ‘business’ approaches would be laughable, if they weren’t so deadening and potentially deadly in their application. Any attempt on the part of the United States to resolve the cultural divide with any sort of prescriptive solution will, without doubt, fail miserably

It appears there is the absence of an honest we in the approach of the United States, that implicit sense of we that is the guiding principle in ‘Latin’ American societies generally, as well as in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela under the leadership of Hugo Chávez in particular. That sense of we, is the implicit-become-explicit driving force of identity, strength and independence from domination. The absence of the sense of we stands out in its vacuity in the minds and actions and attempts at engagement and negotiation on the part of Westerners/Northerners, especially in business and governmental relations. That absence, that vacuum where we should be, is the invisible wedge that separates East and West, North and South, and it is there, in all its absent glory that is to be found much of the cause, and possibly the cure, for the conflict between the United States and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Thank you and congratulations to President Hugo Chavez, mediator extraordinaire.