The Economist Asks Pears from the Oven

The most surprising revelation in The Economist’s cover story this week is that Manuel Rosales has some fans in London.

Venezuela made the cover of The Economist this weekend: kudos to Nicolás, it’s a real achievement in the field of screwing-up-your-own-country. The venerable English newspaper (as, inexplicably, this publication-that-is-very-obviously-a-magazine insists on styling itself,) has been a clear backer of “team screwed” for some time on its pessimism for our country. Now they’re doubling down:

An astonishing 93% of them say they cannot afford the food they need, and three-quarters have lost weight in the past year. The regime that caused this preventable tragedy professes great love for the poor. Yet its officials have embezzled billions, making Venezuela the most corrupt country in Latin America, as well as the most ineptly governed.

The piece then goes on to describe the worst-case scenarios for each side, government and opposition, post-Constituent Assembly, which is more or less what you would expect:

It will complete the destruction of the powers of parliament (…). Opponents say the assembly will install Cuban-style communism. At the very least, its creation will provoke more violence in a country where the streets are already choked with tear gas and littered with buckshot from police shotguns.

But the real focus of the article is on how the international community should deal with the crisis in Venezuela. The Economist’s proposal? Let Maduro finish out his term and negotiate a transition.

Basically, diálogo.  

Turns out The Economist is not Team Screwed, it’s Team Manuel Rosales.

Next come the ritual admonishments to the opposition to get its act together, be a serious alternative to the government and pick a single, unifying leader. Fine words. Easier said than done.

Arguably, the most interesting part is their recommendation to European and Latin American countries to take measures against specific Venezuelan government officials, following the U.S.’s lead, and to share information on where these people’s assets are.

In contrast, the piece argues that measures against the country itself, particularly those relating to the oil business would not only serve to give credit to Maduro’s claims of US intervention, Cuba-style, but would have dire consequences on the economy, and therefore harm innocent Venezuelan people, while those in power are insulated from the impact:

It will not, in itself, force the regime to change. But the stick of individual sanctions should be combined with the offer of negotiations, brokered by foreign governments. Any final deal may have to include legal immunity for senior Venezuelan officials. That is distasteful, but may be necessary to achieve a peaceful transition back to democracy.

I wonder if El Filósofo del Zulia has an Economist subscription.

You can read the read the rest of the piece at here.

José González Vargas

Freelance journalist, speculative fiction writer, college professor, political junkie, lover of books and movies and, semi-professional dilettante. José has written for NPR's Latino USA, Americas Quarterly, Into and ViceVersa Magazine.