Nations to Challenge Venezuela’s Authoritarian Regime

Wall Street Journal WSJ-01MEXICO CITY—The U.S., Canada and Latin America’s leading nations have agreed to challenge Venezuela’s authoritarian regime, a joint effort that wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago.

Fourteen nations plan to issue a joint statement in coming days calling on the government of President Nicolás Maduro to release political prisoners, return full powers to the National Assembly and set a timetable to hold regional elections that Venezuela has indefinitely postponed, according to Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray.

In a region where countries like Mexico avoid interfering in each other’s affairs, it is rare for a large number of countries, including all of the most influential ones, to come out publicly against another nation.

The pressure on Venezuela reflects changing political dynamics in Latin America, where a string of once populist leftist governments have been thrown out of power. Countries like Argentina, Brazil and Peru that were friendly to Venezuela have moved toward the center-right. And elections in Ecuador next month could cause a shift there, too.
“We feel the time has come to act,” Mr. Videgaray, who helped lead the regional diplomacy, said in an interview. …

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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.