Venezuela is a ticking time bomb

All the while, Venezuelan government officials have been using oil revenues to line their own pockets. For decades, the anti-Chavez opposition has sounded the alarm about the billions of dollars stolen by corrupt government officials. Senior government officials, including former cabinet members, have been sanctioned by the U.S. government for being international drug traffickers and providing support to Colombia’s terrorist group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Government officials have also been found to support members of Hezbollah. A recent report by CNN found that the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq may have provided Venezuelan passports and visas for individuals connected to terrorism.

While public attention is focused on troubles in the Middle East and beyond, we have a ticking time bomb in our own hemisphere. The situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate and shows no sign of improvement. Venezuela is now the leading country for U.S. asylum requests, ahead of even war-torn countries.

The country’s imminent collapse will have far-reaching implications for the region. In addition to a refugee crisis, there will be a spread of communicable diseases. Moreover, regional criminal organizations such as Colombia’s FARC are sure to exploit the power vacuum. The situation would undermine the United States’ largest foreign aid investment, “Plan Colombia,” valued at more than $10 billion and many U.S. lives.