Why Venezuela’s Sliding Toward Dictatorship, Default: QuickTake

From the Washington PostVenezuela has more oil than Saudi Arabia and more poverty than Brazil. Its previous leader, the late Hugo Chavez, sought to use the country’s reserves to light a leftist path to prosperity for Latin America’s poor. Under his protege and successor, Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela hasn’t always been able to keep the power on, and with U.S. sanctions biting, the country faces possible default on its debt. With reduced oil prices, the country, once one of Latin America’s richest, is plagued with shortages of everything from toilet paper to antibiotics and food. And that’s on top of triple-digit inflation, widespread violent crime and corruption allegations. …

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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.