Venezuela is on the brink of collapse

ecretary of State John Kerry recently expressed the clearest American concern yet over the ruin of Venezuela at the hands of its’ President Nicolas Maduro. Speaking at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), Kerry rightly criticized a regime which has overseen Venezuela’s descent into abject poverty and threatened to consign Venezuelan democracy to history.

Kerry admirably called for the release of political prisoners, jailed purely for their opposition to Maduro. Equally importantly, he demanded respect for freedom of expression and action to alleviate the crippling shortages which have left Venezuelans struggling to feed their families. Most importantly perhaps, Kerry backed the popular demand for a lawful referendum on Maduro’s rule by a Venezuelan people rapidly losing all hope.

All of this is to be applauded. Venezuela is in a desperate and dangerous state. In recent months, infrequent power cuts have turned into severe rationing of electricity. Long supermarket lines have transformed into a frantic and increasingly deadly scramble for food. Medical shortages have become so severe that 95 per cent of hospitals are suffering a dangerous shortage of supplies. The high cost in lives is already underway. Babies are needlessly dying in hospitals, while at least four people were killed in food riots in June, as desperation takes on an Orwellian tone. Social order is precariously poised to collapse at any moment. Venezuela is facing a race against time before it implodes.

And so, Washington isn’t facing just a complex policy issue over Venezuela. American involvement has become a life or death issue, especially as Maduro has no discernible plan to rescue his country. Maduro’s strategy is simple denial - close his eyes, point fingers at imaginary foreign conspiracies and pray for a highly unlikely dramatic rise in oil prices.

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