WOLA’s David Smilde Makes the Case for Multilateral Diplomacy
Washington, D.C.—As Venezuela’s crisis deepens, the best chance for a peaceful restoration of its democratic institutions lies through multilateral diplomacy, not military intervention. In a new op-ed published in the New York Times, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) Senior Fellow David Smilde responds to recent proposals by some analysts that the United States and other regional actors should consider intervening militarily in Venezuela. As he notes, such an action would not at all be comparable to the surgical strikes against the government of Manuel Noriega in 1989 and would receive little regional support.
Instead, Smilde argues that the United States should implement a strategy that is closely coordinated with the European Union and the Latin American governments that comprise the Lima Group. These countries should adopt a clear message: “They will not recognize a presidential election in 2018 without a new Electoral Council and without independent international observation.” According to Smilde, this should be accomplished by encouraging more countries to collectively adopt existing sanctions on debt and targeted officials—and pair the measures with a clear communications campaign—without broadening them in ways that hurt the general population or complicate a potential transition.
Smilde, a professor of sociology at Tulane University, also curates WOLA’s Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights blog, which provides independent analysis of Venezuelan politics and current events. Venezuela Politics and Human Rights contributes to the debate on sanctions, military intervention, the humanitarian crisis, and more in Venezuela, offering a unique resource for journalists, policymakers, scholars, advocates, and others monitoring events in the country.
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