EDITORIAL: Coping with crisis in the US and Venezuela

There’s general relief in America since President Donald Trump has reached agreement with Democrats to end the 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government. The agreement  means some 800,000 federal workers will receive paychecks they were denied throughout the shutdown.

However, the deal reached to reopen the government calls for a temporary 21-day period for the administration and Democrats to negotiate possible funding for a wall along the southern US border.  Therefore, the possibility of another shutdown looms should such an agreement fail.

However, it would be unconscionable for anyone in Washington to put federal workers through another ordeal in which they are required to work without pay. This is no way to manage a nation.

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Shutdowns are redundant

Shutting down government as a strategy to reach agreements on the national budget is redundant. It must be voted down. There’s no way any group of Americans must be used as scapegoats in decisions to fund aspects of the budget.

The Trump administration, Congressional Republicans and Democrats, are must use their best negotiating skills to find compromise over funding the border wall. This must be done without negatively impacting the lives of Americans, most of whom don’t support a wall as the primary strategy for border security anyway.


The situation in Venezuela is dire and seem to be deteriorating each day. It’s extremely difficult to identify the images of people starving and suffering in the streets of Venezuela with the former prosperity of this oil rich nation.

In April 2013 Nicolas Madura was narrowly elected as Venezuela’s president succeeding President Hugo Chavez who died in office.

From the outset, Maduro’s socialist policies met with strong opposition within and outside the country. His presidency has coincided with a decline in Venezuela’s social and economic status creating a persistent crisis, marked by alleged human rights abuses, attempts to repress political opposition, steep price inflation, starvation and poverty. Over three-million Venezuelans have fled the country, threatening to destabilize the region and putting immense pressure on nearby nations, including Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and other Caribbean countries.

Maduro not recognized

New elections were held in Venezuela in 2018, and Maduro and his United Socialist Party declared victory.  But, many countries led by the United Sates refused to recognize the victory, citing fraud. The nation’s constitutional crisis peaked on January 10, 2019 when Maduro was inaugurated president for a new term. Several countries including Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana, the Bahamas and St. Lucia, refused to recognize Maduro as the legitimate president.

Support for Guaido

In addition, The US firmly expressed support for Juan Guaido, President of the opposition National Assembly as the legitimate president.  Meanwhile masses of Venezuelans have taken to the streets demanding new, and fair elections.

Divide in CARICOM

The Venezuelan crisis has created a sharp divide in the Caribbean community (CARICOM). Those countries which recently voted for an Organization of American State (OAS) resolution not to recognize Maduro as president has come under sharp criticism

Some Caribbean leaders stand firm in their support for Maduro, or have taken a neutral stance, citing Maduro’s and Chavez’s support to the region’s economy through the Chavez initiated  Petrocaribe deal through which member Caribbean nations purchase oil on very easy terms. Others claim Maduro is a dictator whose policies go against the principles of democracy acceptable to the Caribbean.

Blame on USA

Many observers in the Caribbean and the Americas have cast blame for the situation in Venezuela squarely on the USA, recalling America’s past direct and indirect destabilizing intervention into socialist administrations of several Caribbean nations, including Cuba, Jamaica and Grenada.

Maduro has now broken diplomatic ties with the US administration, accusing it of orchestrating a coup against him. There are speculations the US could initiate military intervention against Venezuela.

There’s no denying Venezuela is experiencing a major constitutional, social and economic crisis. But, notwithstanding,  Venezuela is a sovereign nation. The solution of the crisis rest solely with the Venezuelan people. Any foreign intervention, or interference, is unacceptable.

Nonintervention preferable

It’s hoped the global community shares the stance of Caribbean leaders in seeking the United Nations’ guidance regarding Venezuela. Following a recent meeting with the UN on the crisis, CARICOM leaders issued a statement expressing grave concern for the plight of Venezuelans “and the increasing volatility of the situation brought about by recent developments which could lead to further violence, confrontation, breakdown of law and order.”  But, simultaneously, “reaffirmed their guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to rule of law, and respect for human rights and democracy.”

It’s difficult for the international community to tolerate the situation in Venezuela, but international mediation between the opposing parties in that country should be the focus, rather than attempting unwarranted, unwelcomed, particularly military, interference.

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