Collapse of Venezuela and Impact on the Region (Analysis)

Posted on August 15, 2017 • Filed under: Conflicts, Police/Military Activity, Venezuela

The Collapse of
Venezuela and Its
Impact on the Region
Dr. R. Evan Ellis / armyupress.army.mil

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In May 2017, as the number killed during pro
-
tests against the regime of Nicolás Maduro in
Venezuela climbed toward 40, and with more
than 130 injured and over 1,300 arrests, many in
the United States and the region asked, “How much
longer could it go on?”
1
In addition to the crisis
within Venezuela, the collapse of its economy and the
escalating criminal and political violence have also

roduced a massive outflow of refugees to neighboring
Colombia and Brazil, to the nearby Caribbean islands
of Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, and Curaçao, and
to other locales throughout the region. In total, an
estimated 1.5 million of Venezuela’s 32 million people
have left the country since the government of Hugo
Chávez came to power in 1999.
2
Venezuela’s neighbors
watch the unfolding drama not only with concern for
the Venezuelan people but also from the perspective
of how that crisis could affect them as it deepens and
possibly becomes more violent.
3
The situation in Venezuela is often mistakenly diag
-
nosed as principally a political or economic crisis.
4
It is
better understood as a criminal act without precedent in
Latin America: the capture and systematic looting of a
state, achieved by first capturing its institutions through
mass mobilization and bureaucratic machinations, then
increasing control of the state through military force,
as the criminal nature of the act and its consequenc
-
es become apparent to the nation’s citizens. Former
Venezuelan government officials have suggested that as
much as $300 billion may have been diverted over the last
decade from national coffers to private accounts through
the currency control system alone.
5
The crisis in Venezuela is a problem for the coun
-
try and the region that neither international law nor
existing multilateral institutions are well equipped to
handle. For neighboring states, politically acceptable
alternatives appear to be few. For example, it is un
-
likely that the United States, or organizations such as
the United Nations or the Organization of American
States (OAS), will choose to physically intervene or be
able to act in a manner sufficiently impactful to alter
the current trajectory of Venezuela toward a broader
and more violent internal crisis. Yet, both the United
States and multilateral institutions do have plausible
alternatives and may yet have the ability to play a de
-
cisive role in managing the consequences of that crisis
for the region without direct intervention.  Read Full Paper

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