NYT Op Ed on Venezuela by David Smilde


The New York Times published my op ed on what the international community should and should not do with respect to the Venezuela crisis.

How to Avoid Civil War in Venezuela

On July 16, more than seven million Venezuelans voted in a plebiscite that emphatically rejected President Nicolás Maduro’s plans to convene a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the Constitution. It was a remarkable showing for a D.I.Y. electoral event and included robust, if nervous, turnout in the working-class districts that were once strongholds for Mr. Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez.

Since the plebiscite, Venezuela’s opposition has taken steps toward establishing a parallel government. This might remain a symbolic initiative. But if the opposition continues down this road, itwill soon be looking for international recognition and funding, and will at least implicitly be asserting the parallel government’s claim to the legitimate monopoly on the use of force. After that itwill seek what every government wants: weapons to defend itself. If it succeeds, Venezuela could plunge into a civil war that will make the current conflict seem like high school fisticuffs.

Continue reading on the NYT webpage.