To help Venezuela, the international community needs to change its strategy

The Globe and Mail-01On Thursday,Oct. 26, the Canadian government hosted the third meeting of the Lima Group – an informal gathering of governments in the Western hemisphere concerned with the critical situation in Venezuela. The ministers of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico and Paraguay joined Chrystia Freeland in Toronto as part of a regional discussion about the deepening crisis in the country.

Despite facing the worst economic troubles in recent history, Venezuela’s ruling Socialist Party won a surprising victory in the Oct. 15 regional elections, taking 18 out of 23 gubernatorial seats.

Opposition forces had called on voters to go to the polls even in the midst of unequal funding conditions, arbitrary judiciary measures (such as barring opposition leaders from competing) and overall electoral bias that seemed to suggest the elections were rigged. …

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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.