Venezuela

  • Conference Call—Venezuela Post-October 15: What Happens Next?

    On Sunday, October 15, Venezuela held regional elections amidst a deep democratic crisis in the country. The National Electoral Council announced late on Sunday that the ruling chavistahad won 18 out of 23 governorships, in contrast to virtually every pre-election poll conducted on the ground in Venezuela.  Following the stunning electoral outcome, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center organized a rapid-reaction conference call with David Smolansky, the exiled opposition mayor of El Hatillo Municipality; Luis Vicente León, President of Datanálisis, a prominent Venezuelan polling organization; and Beatriz Borges, Director of the Center for Justice and Peace (CEPAZ) in Venezuela. The call was moderated by Jason Marczak, Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.

    Marczak kicked off the discussion by laying out the political landscape post-election. He emphasized the fact that the stark contrast between extensive pre-election polling predicting a comprehensive victory for opposition parties and the announcement of a sweeping electoral victory for President Nicolás Maduro and the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) have drawn rightful suspicion of fraud, leading the United States to deem them as having been neither “free nor fair.”

    Smolansky, a prominent figure in the opposition coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), gave the coalition’s interpretation of the electoral events both on election day and in the run-up. He described several tactics used by the Maduro government to sway the election in its favor: not allowing candidate substitutions, switching citizens’ electoral districts at the last minute, installing broken voting machines in opposition-controlled areas, leaving the door open for multiple voting by not using indelible ink, and refusing international oversight. Smolansky laid out the opposition’s next steps, arguing that “the National Assembly has to appoint new authorities for the Electoral Court in Venezuela”. He also warned that “as soon as the National Assembly finds new authorities for the Electoral Court, they will be prosecuted, so we have to be ready to swear them in as exiles.

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  • Geopolitical and Security Developments in the Americas: What They Mean for Business

    On Tuesday, October 17, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center and Baker McKenzie jointly hosted a discussion on the implications for businesses of the latest geopolitical and security developments in the Americas. The conversation, moderated by Deputy Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center Andrea Murta, occurred amid the latest round of NAFTA renegotiations, the continued unraveling of the crisis in Venezuela, and the ongoing implementation of the Colombia peace process. Distinguished speakers included Gen. Douglas Fraser, former commander of US Southern Command; Dr. Rebecca Bill Chavez, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for western hemisphere affairs; Peter MacKay, partner at Baker McKenzie and former minister of national defense, foreign affairs, and justice of Canada; and Miguel Noyola, partner at Baker McKenzie. The discussion was moderated

    Following welcome remarks by Ted Murphy, partner at Baker McKenzie, Gen. Fraser opened the event by addressing security trends in the region, including the Colombian peace process and the crisis in Venezuela. He noted the positive movement of the Colombian peace process, and the challenges of long-term success, while also highlighting the need to address the problem of growing coca production. When discussing the crisis in Venezuela, he described the several ways the government is trying to hold on to power, doors the crisis has opened for Russia, China and Iran to increase their influence in the region, and the danger of increased mass migration as the humanitarian crisis deepens.

    Above all, Gen. Fraser named transnational criminal organizations as the biggest security concern in the region. Their ability to undermine governments in the Northern Triangle through corruption and violence creates a need, he argued, to address their operations in and beyond Central America.

    Following keynote remarks, the conversation opened with a discussion of the biggest challenge for the United States in the region. Gen. Fraser expressed concern with the availability of US forces in the region for traditional operations and emergencies as the United States turns its focus toward security threats from Russia, the Middle East and East Asia.

    Dr. Chavez highlighted the bilateral security relationship with Mexico is under threat by tensions stemming from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations. She further argued that “a reduction in any of four areas of cooperation [counterterrorism, counternarcotics, coordinated efforts in the Northern Triangle, disaster response] could be very bad for stability in North America, but also Central America.”

    Focusing on opportunities for businesses in the region, Miguel Noyola noted the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) significance for regional economic growth. “For Mexico, [NAFTA] propelled the country from being a closed economy to one that feels competent competing in global markets. So, with or without NAFTA we have [already] adopted that shift.”

    While he emphasized the urgency of fully appreciating the damage NAFTA’s collapse would inflict on the United States, adding that he would expect the US Congress to intervene if NAFTA were to approach such a point, Peter McKay expressed optimism for the long term. He emphasized the trilateral relationship has and will continue to traverse a single country’s administration: “We are going to get through this. Administrations will come and go. This relationship in North America between Canada, the US and Mexico has a long enduring history,” he stated.

    Beyond North America, Gen. Fraser discussed the growing influence of US competitors in the Americas, noting that “the opportunity presented to China by a changing dynamic in NAFTA or any trade relationship is real and is of geostrategic concern to the United States.” He added that “China is looking for every opportunity to fill a void… but I also take example that Russia is not out of this opportunity… They are looking for any opportunity to undermine the efforts of the United States to engage.”

    Pivoting to the position of US companies on the current NAFTA renegotiations. Mr. Noyola argued that private enterprises are adaptable and will continue to find investment opportunities abroad regardless of trade agreements.

    Minister McKay added that he expects NAFTA negotiations to continue well into next year considering the complexities and lack of immediate progress negotiations have yielded so far.

    To conclude, the panel addressed the impact of next year’s elections in the region on the security and economic relationships with the United States. Minister McKay and Dr. Chavez agreed certain policies coming out of the United States have helped the leftist populist candidate in Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), increase his support for the upcoming election, with Dr. Chavez and Mr. Noyola both agreeing that he would win if elections were held today. Mr. Noyola concluded that even if AMLO wins he expects a more mature civil society to act as a check on his power and therefore moderate his more radical policies.

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  • Marczak Quoted in Estadao on the Manipulation of Sunday’s Gubernatorial Elections by the Maduro Regime.


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  • Brummer Joins C-SPAN to Discuss North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela Sanctions


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  • Marczak Quoted in Forbes on the Trump Administration's Relation With Latin America and Diplomacy With Venezuela


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  • Here’s Why Latin America Matters

    Interview with Jason Marczak, newly appointed director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center

    Jason Marczak, the newly appointed director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, discussed his vision for the Center and approaches to regional challenges in an interview with the New Atlanticist’s Ashish Kumar Sen. Here are excerpts from our interview.

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  • Marczak Quoted in Noticias Venezuela on the Effect of US Sanctions on Venezuela


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  • Marczak in RealClearWorld: Diplomacy Is Our Only Way Forward on Venezuela


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  • Marczak Quoted in El Nuevo Siglo on US Sanctions Against Venezuela


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  • Marczak Joins RPP Noticias to Discuss US Sanctions Against Venezuela


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