Venezuela was front-and-center at the United Nations annual meetings in New York. Last week, in a significant step, governments party to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) overwhelmingly voted to invoke it. But what happens if inaction settles in post-UNGA? What is clear is that a deepening of the crisis would trigger new, even more concerning reverberations across Latin America, the Caribbean, the United States, Europe, and beyond.
To seize the moment for renewed attention to the rapidly-deteriorating situation in Venezuela, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, in partnership with Foreign Policy Magazine and Florida International University’s Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy, invite you to a post-UNGA discussion on how the international community is likely to coordinate a global action plan to avert further threats to regional and global stability.
Luis Guillermo Solís
Republic of Costa Rica
Amb. Marcel de Vink
Director of Western Hemisphere Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Kingdom of the Netherlands
H.E. Gustavo Tarre
Ambassador to the Organization of American States
Interim Government of Venezuela
Director of Development and Migration Integration,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Republic of Colombia
H.E. Joselin Croes
Minister Plenipotentiary for Aruba
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center
Event recap – From UNGA Commitments to a Global Action Plan
On October 2, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, in partnership with the Florida International University’s (FIU) Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs, and Foreign Policy Magazine (FP), hosted the event Venezuela: From UNGA Commitments to a Global Action Plan. The event followed PeaceGame Venezuela, a crisis simulation held at the Atlantic Council to analyze how to respond to a hypothetical collapse of the Venezuelan state and the implications around illicit trafficking, armed groups, and public health.
The speakers at the event included President Luis Guillermo Solís, former president of Costa Rica; H.E. Gustavo Tarre, special representative of the Interim Government of Venezuela to the Organization of American States; H.E. Joselin Croes, minister plenipotentiary for Aruba in the Embassy of the Netherlands in Washington, DC; Ambassador Marcel de Vink, director of the western hemisphere department of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Victor Bautista, director of development and border integration in the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center moderated the discussion.
Marczak opened the discussion by addressing the potential consequences of the Venezuelan crisis in the region, asking President Solís about possible concerns should complacency and inaction settle in among the international community. Solís was quick to raise the dire possibility of escalation as his biggest worry. He emphasized the urgent need for constructive, non-military international intervention.
De Vink was pleased with the strong support for the interim government demonstrated at UNGA and recalled the European Union’s adoption of targeted sanctions in response to human rights violations. He emphasized the efforts from Norway to mediate talks between the Maduro and Guaidó governments. “The international community has to shape the conditions to resume those talks,” he stated.
With the discussion occurring on the heels of the launch of the Latin America Center’s report on US-Colombia cooperation last week, Marczak turned to Colombia, Venezuela’s next door neighbor and the largest recipient of Venezuelan migrants and refugees. Bautista emphasized the worsening public health and social concerns in Colombia, as well as the need to stabilize migrant influx.
The discussion then moved to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, invoked in support of the Venezuelan interim government in September. Tarre clarified that Article 6 of the treaty accounts for threats to territorial integrity, exercise of sovereignty, or peace in the region, and that its invocation has received support among many sectors in Venezuela. A consultative body will work in preparation to the treaty’s implementation over the next two months.
Asked about how the crisis has been affecting Aruba, especially when it comes to illegal activities and gold trafficking through the island, Croes started by contextualizing Aruba’s embroilment in the crisis. Despite good historical relations, Venezuela ceased exports in 2018, putting the island at the risk of facing a food shortage. Aruba implemented a ban on Venezuelan metals, but still sees human, drug, and weapons trafficking coming from the continent.
President Solís pointed out that crime is worsening in the region as a result of the crisis, with armed irregular groups in Venezuela providing resources to criminals in neighboring countries, profiting on illegality, undermining domestic security efforts, and overwhelming regional security efforts. Ambassador de Vink emphasized the “export of instability” coming out of Venezuela, stating a threefold increase of drug flow into Europe. “What takes place in Venezuela is not that some criminals hold high offices in government, [it is that] the criminal organizations have taken over the government,” Tarre added.
With Venezuela giving refuge to Colombian armed groups, allowing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) to traverse the border, the migratory and security crises are dangerously linked, warned Bautista. “This is the most intense migratory crisis in the world due to the speed in which it develops and the complexity of the variables we have in action.”
“The migration crisis has put an undue burden on all of the islands,” stressed Croes. Within two years migrants became more than 10% of the Aruban population and integration has been a challenge. “We were anticipating that at a certain point there would be a collapse, (…) but that did not happen”, disclosed de Vink. “There have to be regional dialogues and then national actions implemented to deal with this crisis,” proposed Bautista.
Author: Frederico Fróes