Bad policies and inadequate political attitudes by the elites breed political catastrophes. Populist policies thus usually represent a retreat from reason rather than a rise in wisdom. When countries have embraced populism, the resulting policies have habitually made matters worse. This is quite evident in Venezuela When oil rent was not enough to cover development needs, Venezuelans chose to reject wealth creation and to deepen rent extraction. When confronted with institutional wear out the institutional framework that had provided a reasonable degree of freedom was brought down and when oil prices sky rocketed for the second time in history the society allowed a mad leader to squander public resources with elite members prominently participating in the bacchanal.
Now as the country slowly but surely drifts towards the definite institutionalization of a Somali style entity is fatally divided in two halves. Those that expect a solution to come from abroad and those that are offering their lives to the cause of freedom. The first group seems to believe that both geopolitics and the Trump Administration need for a foreign success will coalesced to bring the Maduro government down. Freedom Fighters believe that the totalitarian regime of Venezuela can be brought down through civic protests and ancillary economic paralysis. Both are of course wrong. Militant hostility by the US will only render credible the up to now unfounded claim by President Maduro that the current predicament is attributable to the US economic boycott executed through its local bourgeois allies. And should the hostile policy be supported by military action, then a new star will be born to the narrative of the Latin American left. Maduro will instantly turn into a 21st century Che Guevara au erasing the truth. He is an incompetent and cruel leader with ties to drug traffic. Several decades down the road a political movement to revendicate Maduro could appear in the Latin American sky creating dents in the regions stability. On the other hand, bringing down through civic protests a totalitarian regime backed by organized crime and international terrorism is as difficult as killing an elephant with a cuticle trimmer. International support is absolutely essential but such support would only materialize in so far as the opposition has a program, a vision and a voice. So far what the world sees is multiple voices, no vision and no program.
Breaking this stalemate is essential to successfully pulling Venezuela from the abyss of a bloody internecine war. And to achieve that the first step has to be to impose silence on those that are not directly involved in the tragedy. Much as it can be valuable the support and opinion of the diaspora, its members are not exposing their lives in the conflict and thus should act as supporters of the main players that are in the field. Second the US should pay more heed to the heads of state of Latin America that at long last are acting swiftly to contribute to a solution. They are all supporting individual sanctions to those government officials involved in illicit activities but no economic sanctions against the country which would make current predicament worst. The US should lead continental support to Peru in its quest to mobilize the UN Security Council to create a humanitarian channel to feed and provide health care to the Venezuelan population. This would create a multilateral force that would protect the population from further abuses. The US could condition delivery of gasoline to Venezuelan compliance with Human Rights and subject future oil contracts to the approval of the Venezuelan Congress as suggested by Andres Oppenheimer. And Venezuelans of all ages, economic conditions and political persuasions (except those that still believe in communism) have to rally behind the generation Xers that having lived for the better part of their lives under the Bolivarian nightmare have courageously taken the decision to fight for freedom irrespective of the consequences. This generosity should earn them the respect of the world but also it should be prized with respect to their leadership. At the end of the day it is they who will rebuild the country.
Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.
For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.
You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.
Also by Beatrice Rangel in her Latin America from 35,000 Feet series