Leverage must be used to avert total collapse
Venezuela’s decline into chaos continues. As reported by Thomson Reuters, teachers and students are skipping classes to look for food.
This is how bad it’s gotten:
“Education is no longer a priority for many poor and middle-class Venezuelans who are swept up in an all-consuming quest for food amid a drought-fuelled wave of looting and riots. In border towns like La Fria… Venezuelans are turning to the jungle for food as government-promised rations fail to arrive in the crisis-hit nation of 30 million.”
The collapse of an entire country would be a disaster, not just for Venezuela but the entire region. The people of Venezuela should not suffer for the errors of their failed government. That’s why the world needs to step up and provide aid.
But that aid must come with two conditions.
1) Stop stalling the referendum:
The referendum on incompetent President Nicholas Maduro has gained over 2 million signatures, far more than are needed. But the electoral commission – controlled by Maduro – is stalling on getting the process going. They want to drag it out until 2017, since even if Maduro is kicked out next year, his vice president would take over and the regime would stay in place. The world needs to make any aid contingent on the referendum happening this year.
2) Release all political prisoners:
The Maduro regime has jailed journalists, political opponents, and activists. In doing so, they have thrown democracy out the window. Any international aid must be preceded by the immediate release of all political prisoners.
It may not seem “nice” to extract concessions from a country on the brink of total collapse, but the Venezuelan government has given no reason for anyone to be confident they can manage the crisis. Aid without conditions would just be a stopgap until the next crisis, and in the meantime the democratic rights of Venezuelans would continue to be trampled.
This is a moment of leverage, and that leverage must be used positively. Venezuela’s future may depend on it.
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Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO (Flickr) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/