Archive for March 11, 2019

Venezuela’s Humanitarian Crisis

File:Homelessness in Venezuela.jpg

Credit: Wikipedia

Venezuela is in crisis.  Nicolás Maduro, the nation’s president, stands accused of all sorts of heinous crimes against humanity.  Luis Almagro, writing for the Washington Post, exposes some gruesome examples, including:

…subjecting opposition demonstrators such as Echenagusia Guzmán to electric shocks, beating them with nightsticks, kicks and fists and burning them with cigarettes. And [the Maduro regime will] continue to douse young men such as 18-year-old Marco Cello with gasoline, threatening to burn him, or fracture the skull of others such as Jorge León, beating him with rifle butts and helmets.

This is disgusting.  But it is also only just the beginning.  Mr. Maduro’s government stands accused of murdering some 8,290 people between 2015 and 2017.  His penchant for corrupt governance has turned what was one of Latin America’s richest countries into an economic and humanitarian disaster.

Recently, however, the heat has been turned up on Mr. Maduro.  Opposition leader Juan Guaidó is gaining political traction among the Venezuelan people and is now recognized as the interim president of Venezuela by the U.S.  Still, Mr. Guaidó’s path to power is anything but certain.  When the U.S. attempted to send some much needed aid to this desperately impoverished country, Venezuela’s neighbor, Colombia, stepped in to prevent it from reaching its desired destination, fearing a messy clash at the border between supporters of Mr. Guaidó, who were delivering the aid, and supporters of Mr. Maduro, who oppose all U.S. intervention.

In these types of situations, there are never any perfect – or, many times, even great – options.  Unfortunately, this reality is often used as a justification for a failure to act against morally abhorrent realities in the name of a cynical realpolitik.

Genocide and starvation are simply not acceptable status quos – not only because they destabilize whole regions by creating floods of refugees, but because genocide and starvation are objectively and grossly immoral.  Period.

Yes, other nations must think and carefully strategize before attempting to exert influence in a situation like Venezuela’s.  But thinking cannot become a conveniently indefinite buffer against acting.  Something has to change.  Lives are at stake.

For us in the general public, perhaps the first step is simply paying attention.  Our news cycles are dominated by domestic affairs – soap operatic machinations of a deeply divided Washington D.C.  Special counsels, special investigations, salacious testimonies, presidential tweets, executive orders, and border walls fill our headlines.  International crises often register only as a blip on our consciences, if at all.  But they should and they must.

In Venezuela, people are needlessly dying.  And as Christians, if there’s anything we should want to stand up to, it’s death.

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March 11, 2019 at 4:15 am 3 comments


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