'Politics, society and the media: what is going on in Venezuela?' Event

On Wednesday 7th March, Canning House held an event to address the following question: 'Politics, society and the media: what is going on in Venezuela?'. We were delighted to host a distinguished panel: Lucinda Elliott, journalist for The Times who reported from Caracas last year; Dr Marcel Granier, President and CEO of Venezuelan broadcasting company RCTV, on a visit to the UK from Venezuela; and Diego Moya-Ocampos, principal Latin America analyst at IHS Markit. Canning House COO Cristina Cortes chaired the event.

Panellists each gave a short presentation, drawing out the picture of the tragic situation in Venezuela. Food shortages, electricity blackouts and lack of services plague the country, as many turn to emigration as the only solution. Huge numbers of migrants now cross the border daily into both Colombia and Brazil, with repercussions there. Although elections are planned for 20th May, there is little hope for regime change. Some see a military coup as the only way out of the crisis, but unlikely to happen. The possibilities of a renewed social uprising, or of the collapse of the electrical system as a catalyst for change, were also evoked.

A variety of issues were broached during the Q&A, with participation from a large number of audience members. The question of the Venezuelan crisis' impact on Colombia was discussed in further depth; some speak of a humanitarian crisis in Colombia due to Venezuelan migration, with disruptive effects already being felt on the peace process. Panellists' views differed slightly on the extent of Cuban intervention in the country now; the need for the international community to put pressure on Cuba was mentioned as a necessary step. The US stepping up sanctions to include the oil industry was also evoked as a possibility.

To wrap up the event, the chair asked the panellists to briefly respond to how they thought the situation would end in the long term, and how far away that long term was. There were varying degrees of optimism in the responses, with some hope that civil society might still come together, although this would seem unlikely without the implosion of the current regime as a consequence of external pressure, or the internal crisis reaching breaking point, due to the collapse of the electrical grid for example.

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