Wednesday , December 19 2018
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How to End Venezuela’s Nightmare

Summary:
Venezuela’s problems will not be solved without regime change. And that could – and should – happen after January 10, when the international community will no longer recognize the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro's presidency. CAMBRIDGE – Wishing a problem away is seldom an effective strategy. While the international community has had its attention focused on other issues, the Venezuelan catastrophe has deepened. If current trends continue, it will only get worse.  Cynthia Johnson/Liaison/Getty Images Previous Next A day’s work at the median wage now buys 1.7 eggs or a kilogram of yuca, the cheapest available calorie. A kilogram of local cheese costs 18 days of

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Venezuela’s problems will not be solved without regime change. And that could – and should – happen after January 10, when the international community will no longer recognize the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro's presidency.

CAMBRIDGE – Wishing a problem away is seldom an effective strategy. While the international community has had its attention focused on other issues, the Venezuelan catastrophe has deepened. If current trends continue, it will only get worse. 

A day’s work at the median wage now buys 1.7 eggs or a kilogram of yuca, the cheapest available calorie. A kilogram of local cheese costs 18 days of median-wage work; a kilo of meat costs almost a month, depending on the cut. Prices have been rising at hyperinflationary rates for 13 straight months and inflation is on track to surpass the 1,000,000% mark this month. Output continues to fall like a stone: OPEC reports that in October 2018, production was down 37% year on year, or almost 700,000 barrels a day.

According to Alianza Salud, a coalition of NGOs, new malaria cases in 2018 have shot up by a factor of 12 since 2012, bringing the total to more than 600,000, which is 54% of all cases in the Americas. Large swaths of Venezuela’s territory have been ceded to criminal organizations, including terrorist groups such as Colombia’s FARC and ELN, which collude with the National Guard in the production of gold and coltan, as well as in drug trafficking.

As a result, Venezuelans have been leaving in droves, creating a refugee crisis of Syrian proportions, the biggest ever in the Americas. Given that Facebook reports having 3.3 million Venezuelan users abroad, my research team at the Center for International Development at Harvard University estimates that there must be at least 5.5 million overall. Of those tweeting only from Venezuela in 2017 by November over 10% had left the country. Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, despite their valiant efforts, are facing increasing difficulties in coping with the refugee flow.

It is patently obvious that Venezuela’s problems will not be solved unless and until there is regime change. After all, both the regime and the economic collapse are the consequence of the elimination of basic rights. Venezuelans cannot invest and produce to satisfy their needs, because economic rights have been taken away; and they cannot change wrongheaded policies, because their political rights have been taken away. A turnaround will require the re-empowerment of Venezuelans.

Fortunately, an end is in sight to this nightmare, but it will require coordination between the Venezuelan democratic...

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