No Easy Way Out for Venezuelans

By Michael Shifter

Michael Shifter is president of the Inter-American Dialogue. Since 1993, Mr. Shifter has been adjunct professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, where he teaches Latin American politics. Prior to joining the Inter-American Dialogue, Mr. Shifter directed the Latin American and Caribbean program at the National Endowment for Democracy and, before that, the Ford Foundation's governance and human rights program in the Andean region and Southern Cone where he was based in Lima, Peru, and subsequently, in Santiago, Chile.

By Ben Raderstorf

Ben Raderstorf joined the Inter-American Dialogue in 2015 and is a program associate with the Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program. He coordinates the Dialogue's program work and research on corruption, citizen security, and judicial issues as well as U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America. He also organizes the Dialogue's Working Group on Latin America and many of its regular events, conferences, and meetings. Raderstorf previously worked for the Chilean Ministry of Finance in Santiago, and has lived or spent time in Argentina, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. He graduated from Harvard University with a degree in social studies, focusing on globalization and democracy in Latin America.

Chaos, it seems, has become a new norm in Venezuela. In the past month, masses of peaceful protesters opposed to President Nicolás Maduro have been violently dispersed by state security forces almost every day. Masked demonstrators burn barricades and face off regularly with armed quasi-paramilitary motorcycle gangs, known as colectivos, controlled by the government. So far, in the last month of unrest, nearly 30 people have been killed.

The current turmoil in Venezuela began when the Supreme Court, packed with Chavista loyalists of the Maduro regime, issued a ruling on March 29 that essentially dissolved the already-marginalized National Assembly and assumed the country’s legislative powers for itself. Although the court quickly reversed the ruling in the face of domestic protests and international outcry, the episode revealed the fragility of even a semblance of constitutional order in the country and sparked long-simmering tensions. 

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