The unrest in Venezuela is one of those slow-motion disasters that no one seems to know how to stop. We are completely disengaged from the affairs of Latin America in this country. There are crises all throughout Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. There's plenty for us to get involved in, and for our State Department to deal with. And yet, we might as well be looking at the other side of the world instead of our own neighborhood.
Beginning on April 1, anti-government demonstrators have staged daily protests across Venezuela that continue to devolve into violent clashes with riot police, leaving thousands arrested, hundreds injured, and 66 dead. Opposition activists are protesting against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, blaming him for a crippling economic crisis that has caused widespread food shortages for years. The head of the Venezuelan military has warned troops not to commit "atrocities" against protesters, while Maduro’s government continues to work toward rewriting the constitution, defying those accusing him of clinging to power.
Our relationship with Venezuela has been poor for decades. If we had an active, engaged diplomatic and business effort to stabilize the country, win back the trust of the people, and if we had the desire to offer real assistance to the people, I'm sure that we would be treated with suspicion.
Instead, it's more apathy and more disengagement. There was a time when we were trying to find the right footing in the region and now, well, that's just history.