Following the snap elections that were held in Venezuela on 20th May 2008, the humanitarian situation in the country has continued to be dire. Venezuela, one of the world's poorest countries, has witnessed a significant degree of violence and frustration of the citizens, forcing many of them into Colombia and neighbouring countries where their plight has continued to be addressed. Being the closest neighbour, there has been increasing pressure on Colombia to explore options that can be taken to salvage the situation. From the onset, Colombia and other allies like the United States have made it clear that they are not legitimizing the election of the incumbent, Nicolas Maduro, into office. Maduro's main allies include China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Cuba who have sought to denounce what they term "interference in Venezuela's domestic affairs." For Colombia, this is an issue that affects the country and there is a need for action to be taken.
The Venezuelan military and officials have tried severally to provoke Colombia and the neighbouring countries like Trinidad and Tobago. While the relationship between Colombia and Venezuela has remained fragile for many years, Bogota's stand on the election matter by which it recognized the election and legitimacy of Juan Guaido has intensified the matter. The antagonisms which have led the military to violate Colombia's territorial borders in the guise of pursuing rebel forces are just some of the issues that are at hand. Venezuela has sought to break the existing diplomatic relations between the two countries as a result of the growing antagonism over their elections. The territorial borders are evidently under siege as both the military and other Venezuelan law enforcers and the growing numbers of refugees seek to penetrate. The position taken to support Guaido has not been done unilaterally, as seen above, as more countries like the United States have taken a similar position. While Venezuela has depended on the United States for foreign aid and other forms of help over the years, the recent closeness between the country and eastern powers like Russia and China seems to drive the new zeal and energy. While their motivation is to advance the notion that Maduro was elected to office legitimately and that Venezuela has a right to protect its domestic interests against interference by international powers, the approach taken may not be deemed to be highly effective and sustainable.
Of greater need in Venezuela is the humanitarian crisis which is also affecting Venezuela and other neighbouring countries. The humanitarian problem in the country which is occasioned by the pandemic levels of poverty which condemns more than 90% of Venezuelans to live in deplorable situation coupled by the unending political issues has meant brought with it immense challenges. The country is going through a hyperinflation period which is the worst in the country's history. Industries are crumbling down and the levels of corruption in the government are still deep-rooted. Since the time when the violence escalated, about 4,000 Venezuelans have been crossing or attempting to cross the Venezuela-Colombia border in order to escape the growing humanitarian crisis partly occasioned and driven by Maduro's hold on power. Considering the high number of Venezuelans who have moved into Colombia, there has been an overwhelming strain on resources and the ability for Bogota to offer the needed interventions.
A clear factor that has come forth from the crisis facing the two countries especially the ensuing military and humanitarian challenge is the fact that Colombia's borders are unprepared to manage the crisis effectively. The borders are fairly porous and this has encouraged the massive migration into the country. While at it, it is pertinent to realize that the problem of border control is not endemic to Colombia alone. While meeting President Donald Trump in Washington DC, the Brazilian president also expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation in Venezuela and vowed to take action. It is noteworthy to appreciate that Brazil is a leading power in South America and one which has been adversely affected by the situation. This position taken by Brazil points to a need for the countries in the region to think of a formidable solution to the problem.
There are several recommendations that are necessary as a matter of urgency in addressing and remedying the situation. The first approach, which is both short-term and strategic in the long-term too, is the closing down or having stronger management of the borders. Having strong border control will check the growing military aggression that Venezuelan forces have been characterized with the guise of pursuing rebel forces. While at it, there must consideration of the porous nature of the borders and the fact that they have been under control of cartels and other rebel forces both on the Colombian and Venezuelan sides.
As Bogota has clearly stated its position regarding the matter, and the invalidity of the current bearer of the top office in Venezuela has been recognized by various other countries including the United States, political intervention is unavoidable in the long run. While it may be seen as an attempt to infringe on the rights on territorial freedoms and liberties, it is necessary if it can calm the political turmoil in the country and bring back order. As seen, the political climate has had a massive negative effect on the citizens of the country, further aggravating their poor situation, and forced them into exile. As seen from the bitter lamentations by Brazil, the political climate is affecting the entire South American country hence intervention efforts which can restore normalcy are critically desirable. A significant number of Venezuelans have a negative perception against Maduro, accusing him of expanding the status quo in the country and overseeing a repressive regime. There is significant goodwill in Venezuela for political intervention, especially with reports indicating that a section of the military has been dissatisfied with Maduro especially over his role in ordering the massacre of Catholic students who had sought to demonstrate against his government.
As China and Russia have continued to endear themselves to Maduro, there is significant evidence that Maduro's hold on power might have been bolstered. There is, however, a significant need for pressure to be piled on the Venezuelan government and all political, or military interventions, be employed in seeking to find a lasting solution to the problem in the country. Colombia has to continue taking a hard stance against the many vices done by the current regime but at the same time be involved with other goodwill stakeholders like Brazil in exploring a permanent solution for the benefit of everyone.
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