AS/COA Vice President Eric Farnsworth spoke to VOA's Encounter podcast about the crisis in Venezuela and its regional and international implications.
"Where we are in Venezuela is a situation that continues to deteriorate," Farnsworth said. "We have currently more than 4 million Venezuelans outside the country as refugees. There are estimates that as many as 8 million could be outside the country by 2020. And where are they going to go? To neighbors Colombia, Peru, Brasil, etc. This is no longer just a Venezuela crisis, it is now a regional crisis."
Although the Venezuelan economy is on the decline, high-ranking members of the military remain loyal to Nicolás Maduro's regime because his corrupt government funds their lavish lifestyles, said Farnsworth.
Farnsworth doubts Maduro would agree to free and fair elections because there are no incentives for him to do so. "He doesn’t essentially care what happens to the Venezuelan people and is content to allow those folks who can to leave the country as an escape valve," Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth concluded by explaining that the regional impact of the Venezuelan crisis is becoming more massive each day. He noted that a recent effort in the United States Congress to provide Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans in the United States was defeated. In regards to international aid, there has been a lot of rhetorical support, but limited amounts of actual monetary funding.