As the situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate, following the usual, tragic path of socialism, the rest of the world is becoming increasingly nervous. This sort of societal implosion affects everyone, not just the starving masses suffering under the thumb of their dictator, Nicolas Maduro. An exodus of Venezuelans is overwhelming the resources of relief agencies in nearby countries and fears of the results of a possible military coup have the leaders of other South American nations on edge.
I was both surprised and impressed to see the editorial board of the Washington Post acknowledging the collapse of this socialist paradise this week and offering verbal support to those other nations who are struggling with what to do about Maduro. Unfortunately, the WaPo also realizes that there are no easy solutions to this crisis.
If there is any light in this bleak picture, it is that Venezuela’s neighbors are edging toward more assertive action to stem a crisis that, with the massive flow of refugees, threatens to destabilize several other countries. Last week, 13 governments, including Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Canada, issued a statement declaring Mr. Maduro’s presidency illegitimate and threatening sanctions. Peru imposed travel and banking restrictions on Mr. Maduro and his cabinet, and several countries said they would recognize the opposition-controlled National Assembly as Venezuela’s only legitimate institution.
Unfortunately, that is unlikely to move the regime. Mr. Maduro has already survived challenges that usually topple governments, including months of mass street protests in 2017 and inflation that soared to 1 million percent last year.
There is actually some good news buried in that editorial, or at least as close to “good” as we can come in these circumstances. At the same time that Maduro is being sworn in for another term following a fraudulent election, the leaders of twelve Central and South American nations, plus Canada, called on Maduro to cancel his inauguration and step aside until new elections can be held, labeling his presidency as illegitimate. (Strangely, Mexico attended the same meeting but declined to sign the proclamation.)
That won’t have any immediate effect on Maduro, of course, but it shows that they’re getting serious. Some countries, including Peru, have joined the United States in imposing sanctions on Maduro’s administration. Nobody is talking about a military intervention yet, but as time rolls on that may eventually become an option on the table.
The main stumbling block to removing Maduro is that he now has both China and Russia backing him up, both financially and diplomatically. Russia has gone one step further and established a military presence in the nation to support Maduro’s own forces. The additional downside to these developments is that Maduro is now massively in debt to both Russia and China and is quickly becoming little more than a puppet dictator. He’s signed over control of much of his nation’s oil production capabilities to the Russians already, further disrupting the global marketplace.
I’d like to say that the end of the road is near and relief for the people of Venezuela is on the horizon, but that simply doesn’t appear to be the case. The collapse of socialism is sure, but it’s terribly slow and will grind up the lives of far too many citizens of that nation before this is all over.