Margarita Becomes Flash-Point for Venezuela’s Political Crisis

BloombergBy Nathan Crooks

Venezuela’s Margarita Island, the so-called Pearl of the Caribbean, is emerging as a flash-point for the South American country’s political crisis as President Nicolas Maduro prepares to welcome the 17th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement there next week.

While the government has been mum about exact plans for the summit that runs from Sept. 13-18 and has not yet released a list of attendees, the timing couldn’t be worse for Maduro. In the midst of an economic and political crisis as the opposition seeks a recall referendum on his rule, Maduro faced an embarrassing protest there last week that went viral on social media. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.