Is Unstable Venezuela A Third Conflict For The U.S.?


Even as Cuba thaws its hardline communism, a new geopolitical chill may be settling in South America. In the midst of struggling with North Korea and Syria, the United States may have just been beaned with a retro curveball: Venezuela. The oft-unremembered cousin of authoritarianism, socialist Venezuela is suffering through an economic crisis and authorities have apparently just seized a General Motors plant in Valencia.

Since 1999, as Venezuela’s petroleum-dependent economy suffered, President Hugo Chavez began nationalizing greater and greater chunks of the nation’s industries. That trend has continued under Chavez’s successor Nicolas Maduro, who has blamed the United States for Venezuela’s economic woes. The country’s intense recession, combined with increasing public anger over authoritarian governance, has led to massive protests in recent days that coincide with the GM plant seizure.

The developing crisis in Venezuela appears to hinge on economics: The government is blaming capitalist corporations for the high inflation and shortages of vital goods that plague the public, while protesters are blaming the government itself. Since 2015, unemployment has soared from 7.4 percent to almost 25 percent. Its economic production is plummeting during this third year of recession, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting hyperinflation of some 700% to occur this year. The double-whammy of rising unemployment and rising prices, known as stagflation, is particularly brutal to consumers.

Venezuela’s fiscal crises are not uncommon, but the developing protests and seizure of a GM plant come at a terrible time for President Donald Trump and his administration. First of all, the U.S. already has its hands full with Syria and North Korea. In terms of geography, the U.S. has to split its focus, and any resources, significantly. Given the intensity of the current focus on both ISIS and Kim Jong Un, can Washington spare any more resources to deal with Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro nationalizing U.S. property?

Is Venezuela taking the opportunity to seize U.S.-owned property because it feels that we have our hands full with Syria and North Korea?

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