World Bank ready to help Venezuela if asked: Latam chief

Article originally appeared in ReutersThe World Bank Group stands ready to assist Venezuela, a member and shareholder of the institution, if the government asks for help in dealing with a punishing economic crisis, the bank’s top executive for Latin America said.

Jorge Familiar, World Bank vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, told Reuters in an interview on Monday that the bank has had no engagement with Venezuela since it paid off past loans in 2008 under the late former President Hugo Chavez.

But Familiar said the bank’s officials have been intensely watching growing shortages of food and medicine this year as the oil exporting country sinks deeper into recession, sparking violent protests.

Familiar said that the multilateral lender would be ready to develop an engagement program for Venezuela, but it would need to be “invited” to do so by President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

“As with all shareholders of the institution, if the situation were to arise, we would be ready to engage with Venezuela,” Familiar said. “What we would need is for them to call us.” …

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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.

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