Southcom commander warns Congress of growing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela

miami heraldThe admiral in charge of the U.S. Southern Command testified at Congress Thursday that while the region is “stable,” the situation in Venezuela is worsening and could trigger a humanitarian crisis requiring regional intervention.

“The enormous economic instability that’s taking place in Venezuela affects the entire region,” Adm. Kurt Tidd told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Both China and Russia “have significant economic involvement” in Venezuela, he added, and “it would be difficult to imagine that they would not look to take advantage of further instability in that country.”

The admiral was talking about Venezuela as he delivered his annual “Posture Report,” a combination update on activities, request for resources and briefing on regional political and social stresses in the territory that stretches south of the border through Latin America and the Caribbean, minus Mexico. …

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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.