On Tuesday, Peru rescinded its invitation to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to attend the Summit of the Americas in April, accusing his regime of making it impossible to hold “democratic, transparent and credible presidential elections” in the oil nation.
That was a bold statement that others in the international community should make. Conditions under Maduro’s repressive regime are only getting worse, at a time that it seemed things couldn’t slide any further.
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have fled their homeland, many to South Florida. Others are spilling into neighboring Colombia.
Venezuelan children are starving. Criticism of Maduro’s gross incompetence has grown so loud that, last week, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio encouraged members of Venezuela’s military to overthrow the president, saying that soldiers who tried would be supported by other countries.
“Soldiers eat out of garbage cans & their families go hungry in #Venezuela while Maduro & friends live like kings & block humanitarian aid,” the Republican senator tweeted. “The world would support the Armed Forces in #Venezuela if they decide to protect the people & restore democracy by removing a dictator.” Rubio rightly has been an unwavering critic of Maduro, calling for ever-tighter sanctions on Venezuela.
Now the humanitarian crisis has splashed over to Colombia, where Juan Manuel Santos’ government is trying to bring order at the border. Last week, the Colombian president announced he is sending more than 2,000 agents to control crossings at the spot where many Venezuelans enter without permission.
Temporary entry cards that allow more than 1 million Venezuelans to enter Colombia to buy food and medicines, whose scarcity in Venezuela has reached crisis proportions, will be eliminated because so many Venezuelans are crossing over and staying.
The Santos government is at a crossroads. The Colombian president wants to maintain solidarity with Venezuelans fleeing Maduro’s collapsing economy. Still, he wants legal immigration. As of now, 600,000 Venezuelans already are residing in Colombia.
They are working precarious jobs, begging for money in the streets and sleeping outdoors because they cannot afford shelter. Even so, many say they are better off than in Venezuela.
Fully understanding the dilemma, we urge the Santos government to find a way to not exacerbate the suffering of Colombia’s neighbors looking for relief.
Meanwhile, last week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it will look into whether a full-fledged investigation should be launched into abuses that the Maduro regime allegedly committed against opposition demonstrators last year, many of who were killed.
Why would the ICC not do an exhaustive investigation? A probe by an international agency into violent responses by riot police would be a blow to Maduro, who is trying to gain legitimacy with a pop-up election in April. Opponents aren’t naive. They know the election is a ruse for Maduro to remain in power. He knows that the opposition lacks cohesiveness and needs to buy time.
The end of madurismo has arrived, but the president refuses to accept it. That is why the ICC must move ahead with an investigation. That is why the international community must, like Peru, apply pressure against the regime. That is why governments, especially from neighboring countries, must help those who need it.