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Opinion Pieces Discuss Responses To Venezuela’s Economic, Political Situation

IRIN: Why Venezuelan migrants need to be regarded as refugees
Alexander Betts, professor of forced migration and international affairs at the University of Oxford

“Some 3.4 million Venezuelans have now fled economic and political collapse. More than 1.1 million of them are in Colombia. And yet the Colombian government has recognized that displaced Venezuelans don’t have to be a burden; they can contribute economically, provided the right policies are adopted and there is adequate international support. … Arguably the most successful precedent of channeling development assistance to support refugees comes from the region. The International Conference on Refugees in Central America (CIREFCA) of 1989 outlined a range of development programs to support refugees’ economic integration. … Crucially, the conference was not a one-off pledging conference but a multi-year process that built trust and credibility, and included concrete follow-up mechanisms. … Of particular relevance, CIREFCA focused not just on ‘refugees,’ but also ‘externally displaced persons’ and ‘internally displaced persons.’ Might a similar ‘International Conference on Venezuelan Migrants,’ for example, serve as a catalyst for a development-based approach? … Regardless of whether there is consensus for such a process, international engagement for both humanitarian and development [responses] is urgently needed. … What is at stake is not only the needs of millions of Venezuelans but also the future stability and prosperity of the region” (2/27).

New York Times: Backup Plan Is Needed to Prevent Venezuelan Famine
Dorothy Kronick, assistant professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania

“…Last month, the United States imposed economic sanctions designed to hasten [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro’s exit. If he goes, the world will rejoice. If not — if Mr. Maduro hangs on to power — the sanctions will deepen Venezuelans’ suffering. To prevent this, the United States needs a backup plan. … Without a Plan B, Washington has made a bet that’s safe for President Trump and dangerous for the Venezuelan people. If sanctions contribute to a quick Maduro exit, Mr. Trump will look like a hero. And if they don’t, the United States president will wash his hands of the whole mess. He can’t be blamed if Venezuelans starve, can he? Weren’t Venezuelans starving before the sanctions? You say sanctions made things worse. Mr. Trump says fake news. Some have argued that depriving the Venezuelan government of cash is a moral imperative, because not doing so amounts to paying a hostage-taker. We should not reward hostage-takers like Nicolás Maduro, the thinking goes. But of course, in practice, the international community has done it, in Iraq and elsewhere. We pay hostage-takers not because it feels good or right. We do it when the alternative is worse” (2/28).

The Hill: There’s nothing humanitarian about politicized aid to Venezuela
Gladys McCormick, assistant professor of history in Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

“…The U.S. government’s ties to humanitarian aid to Venezuela are deeply suspect and it’s common knowledge that it’s intended to fast track the military’s defection of current President Nicolás Maduro. It is not surprising that Maduro turned the aid away. If it truly is to be humanitarian aid, the Trump administration needs to decouple it from its aggressive, militaristic agenda. Such aid needs to be handed over to reputable, multilateral organizations with the necessary know-how to navigate the politics involved at the border zones with Colombia and Brazil and get it to those living inside Venezuela. There are several organizations already working on the ground in Venezuela — primarily tied to the United Nations — that Maduro regime has allowed in for several years. If the Trump administration doesn’t stand down from its unilateral posture of parking aid at the border, it risks jeopardizing the work of these and other organizations. … The Trump administration needs to tread carefully with their rhetoric because, if they so aggressively dismiss diplomatic solutions, it leaves only one other viable alternative on the table: military intervention. The U.S. government’s long track record of such interventions in the region is abysmal at best and requires us, as Americans, to urge our leaders not to go down this pathway again because it never ends well” (2/27).