By William Tucker
Contributor, In Homeland Security
Venezuela is a mess. Citizens cannot always find food, their currency is worthless and the refugee crisis has forced Venezuela’s South American neighbors to take individual action to slow the migration.
In addition, there is no cohesive opposition to the Maduro government, despite numerous attempts to unite like-minded groups. It’s not that any opposition matters; Maduro locks up any challenger whenever possible. Now, there are signs that outside forces may move the situation from crisis to catastrophe.
Other South and Central American Countries Struggle to Afford Venezuelan Refugees
Last week, the International Monetary Fund slightly cut its global growth forecast. Although a .02% decrease in global economic growth doesn’t sound like much, many developed nations are still accruing debt while watching their currencies plunge in value.
As a result, the smaller economies in South and Central America will face uncertainty, because their economic growth figures are so small. Supporting Venezuela’s refugees – already an expensive venture – will become even more costly in the future.
US Sanctions Not Encouraging a Return to Democracy in Venezuela
The U.S. government has levied sanctions against some of Venezuela’s leaders, including President Nicolas Maduro, as a means of pressing Caracas to return to democratic rule. Thus far, those sanctions and pressure from Venezuela’s neighbors have proven insufficient to induce any change.
Years ago, while Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez was still in power, Chavez created a militia of loyal supporters and took the extraordinary move of arming them. The Chavistas are now loyal to Maduro and provide support to the current government beyond the ballot box. Even though the situation in Venezuela is dire, the opposition groups have everything going against them.
Also by William Tucker: US-China Military and Trade Relations Take a Frosty Turn
In a move likely born out of frustration, U.S. President Donald Trump asked his top advisors in August 2017 about a military option for unseating Maduro. According to media coverage, Trump’s advisors were taken aback and proceeded to explain why such a move would be a bad idea.
Trump hasn’t abandoned the option and has even solicited input from regional allies. As expected, the idea was a non-starter, even for staunch U.S. allies like Colombia.
But as the situation drags on and places increasing pressure on Venezuela’s neighbors, that could change. As for now, a military option remains unpopular.
Is It Possible to Create a Political Movement outside Venezuela?
Perhaps one option to replace Maduro remains with the refugees themselves. Since the opposition in Venezuela is fractured, it may be more conducive to foster a movement in exile. However, an effort to create an opposition movement outside the country is fraught with problems.
Venezuelan refugees in Colombia are quite a distance from those in Brazil or in other Latin American countries. It is not impossible to coordinate among such groups, but it is a challenge.
Forming an opposition movement would help those nations now struggling under the weight of refugees. An émigré opposition can also provide international organizations, such as the Organization of American States, with a motive to use for political reconciliation and a political road map can be created to replace Maduro.
This is just an idea, but with so many problems plaguing Venezuela, ideas are about all that’s left to try to correct this issue. Without decisive action, the internal situation in Venezuela is likely to deteriorate further.