Five lessons for Venezuela’s post-crisis transition


vzla dialogueToday’s crisis in Venezuela is one of the most serious cases of a slow-motion collapse of a nation-state in the history of the Americas, according to Michael Matera, a senior fellow and director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and Moises Rendon, a research associate with the CSIS Americas Program. International humanitarian and financial assistance will be necessary for the short-term transition to new leadership in Venezuela—whenever and however it comes, they suggest, offering five key lessons for Venezuela and the international community:

  • Internally Led by Venezuelans: The transition must be a Venezuelan-led effort, guided by strong leadership and political will. This locally driven transition effort needs to involve the government at both the national and municipal levels and be open to all political parties. The society at large, consisting of intellectuals and academics, workers, Chavistas (supporters of former president Hugo Chavez) and non-Chavistas, will need to be engaged to implement reforms successfully. … 
  • Transitional Justice and Reconciliation: Venezuela’s future will depend on the level of strength and unity present within its society. The next administration will have to put an important emphasis on reconciling and unifying all sectors of the population, including Chavistas. Promoting a transitional system of justice that seeks a fair and balanced accountability for past crimes, backed by international assistance and international law, will be a crucial step in the short term. ….
  • Innovative Social and Economic Programs: Comprehensive and coordinated economic reforms will be essential to stimulate growth and prevent a repeat of the current crisis in Venezuela. Social reforms will need to include temporary poverty alleviation programs in response to the current grave humanitarian crisis. Job creation and the promotion of conditions to foster private entrepreneurship are crucial in reestablishing and sustaining long-term economic growth….
  • Diversifying the Economy: Venezuela exports little besides petroleum and imports just about everything else (including over 70 percent of food consumed). Diversifying the economy and decreasing the dependence on oil and imports will help to rebalance the country, limit expenses, and stimulate growth. A key first step in reforming Venezuela’s energy sector is cleaning up and restructuring the main state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA). Institutionalized corruption within PDVSA and the nationalization of other oil contracting firms drained key assets and led to sharp declines in the production of oil. …


  • Unified Message from the International Community: The international community, including a coalition of the United States and other regional countries, needs to work closely with the Venezuelan transitional government and other local and foreign organizations to create and transmit a unified message. The global community should provide support to create a platform for information sharing and discussion within the country at all levels. The new administration must first achieve immediate successes in providing humanitarian and financial relief to the most needy Venezuelans. This will be, perhaps, the most important opportunity to legitimize the new leadership efforts to be able to undertake major long-term reforms and successfully establish the foundation of the country’s future. RTWT
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