American Consequences - December 2018


groundwork for change. Political parties, trade unions, universities, NGOs, and the Catholic Church have come together in an initiative called Venezuela Libre. They have organized congresses in each of Venezuela’s 24 states, attended by over 12,000 delegates, and on November 26, they held a national event to issue a manifesto delineating a path back to democracy. In addition, they have been working on a detailed economic plan, amply discussed with the international community, to overcome the crisis and restore growth. This is an excellent opportunity for the international community to move toward a coordinated solution: an explicit refusal to recognize Maduro after January 10, coupled with recognition of the National Assembly’s decisions regarding the transition government and help implementing them. And a clear message should be sent to the National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela that the National Assembly’s decisions must be respected. A solution to the Venezuelan catastrophe is not only desirable, but also possible. The world cannot afford to let this opportunity slip. January 10 can become a new beginning.

Maduro’s presidency after January 10. The logical solution is for the National Assembly, elected in December 2015 with a two-thirds opposition majority, to resolve the constitutional impasse by designating a new interim government and a new military high command that can organize the return to democracy and end the crisis. However, they are wary of doing so because they fear that they will be ignored at best or, at worst, jailed, exiled, or tortured to death and thrown out of a tenth-floor window, as happened in October to Fernando Albán, a Caracas city councilor. Unless the Armed Forces respect the National Assembly’s decisions, they will be hard to enforce. That is why this solution requires coordination between the international community and Venezuela’s democratic forces. Those forces are unsure of how much international support they will receive, and the international community is unsure of the democratic forces’ plans and cohesion. As with any coordination problem, there are good and bad self-fulfilling outcomes. For now, because the international community has not made clear who will be recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate government after January 10, and what level of support will be provided, Venezuela’s Democratic forces have been unable to coalesce around a solution. But the Venezuelans have been doing their homework and laying the organizational

Venezuelans cannot invest and produce to satisfy their needs because economic rights have been taken away. And they cannot change

Ricardo Hausmann , a former minister of planning of Venezuela and former Chief Economist of the Inter-American Development Bank, is Director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University and a professor of economics at the Harvard Kennedy School.

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