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The latest session of Professors in the Pub met on Thursday, March 15th, to discuss the crisis in Venezuela and discuss the country’s dire circumstances of hyperinflation, mass poverty, and an authoritarian government.
Kateřina Březinová, head of the Iberoamerican Studies Center and lecturer at Metropolitan University, led the discussion along with Lucia Argüellová, who is head of the Latin American Human Rights Program at People in Need. Many interconnected topics were discussed during the panel, including the cultural impact on democracy, failed economic reform, populism, corruption in the central government and business, the geopolitics of investment and interventionism, the demands of the Venezuelan opposition, and how might the Venezuelan people reclaim their democratic rights.
Argüellová, speaking of her personal experiences in the country, noted the barriers to bringing humanitarian aid to the country. The Maduro government is disallowing assistance in general, and UN-funded aid could only be legally channeled through the already-corrupt government. Some groups then are forced to smuggle aid, a risky and expensive endeavor. The origins of the crisis in Venezuela, extreme inequality, a corrupt political class, and the curse of large amounts of fossil fuels, were largely agreed upon as the creator for the conditions that allowed Chavez, a political outsider and military man, to gain significant power among the marginalized population.
Several native Venezuelan’s in the room brought their unique perspective to what is ailing their country. One pointed out significant events during the Chavez presidency that contributed to economic mismanagement, such as the firing of the oil workers that resulted in plummeting oil production. Another spoke of the potential of intervention in the country from outside forces, whether it be the United States or other Latin American countries, but there appeared to remain some doubt that this could be accomplished given the track record of United States intervention in the region.
By: Ben Goings
Click here for photos from the event: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmBWhh7D
Publication date: March 25, 2019