SANTIAGO – The Lima Group’s foreign ministers will meet on Monday in Sheraton Hotel in Santiago’s upscale Providencia district. Member countries will discuss the Venezuelan crisis and possible solutions. Chile hosts the meeting for the first time.
On Monday, April 15, foreign ministers of the 14 Lima Group member countries will meet in Santiago. This is the 12th time Lima Group officials come together to seek solutions to the Venezuelan crisis. Among member countries count Peru, Colombia, and Canada, but not the United States. Non-member Ecuador will send a representative and the EU’s general secretary for economic and global affairs takes part via video link.
Long past breaking point, Venezuela faces not only explosive crime, hunger, and refugee outflow but also massive power blackouts. President Nicolás Maduro functions as the frontman of a narco elite that would lose access to wealth and power and face prosecution in case of Maduro’s ouster. And although Maduro, and by extension Chavismo, have lost substantial support among Venezuelans, many citizens refuse to back interim president Juan Guaidó, who stepped up to confront Maduro within the country’s constitutional framework, which brought him in the crosshairs of Maduro-controlled institutions. The public’s distrust emerges from Guaidó’s roots in the pre-Chavista elite and his deep links to US capital. Hence, many fear the opposition would return Venezuela to the times when capitalist oligarchs owned the country.
The resulting deadlock has attracted the attention of foreign actors. Traditional US political-economic influence is increasingly countered with China’s and Russia’s modes of global affairs. While China seeks to make the money work it pumped into Venezuela, Russia has sent troops.
That’s the context Chile’s foreign minister Roberto Ampuero referred to in a press release but didn’t dare to mention. Ampuero said, “it is necessary for the Lima Group to move toward a new phase and redouble its efforts to get new international actors to join the pressure against the dictatorship.” The shaky reference to “new international actors” is the foot-dragging that goes on within the Lima Group as all its members depend more on China and Russia than they admit. Without China propping up Maduro the situation would never have deteriorated that much and opened the flank for Russian militarism.
The need to grow their economies according to capitalist principles attaches regional players to Chinese investments. Their related rise on the global stage then leads to more independence from the US, which makes Russia a relevant player. Both China and Russia also benefit from the situation in Venezuela since it denies the US a safe space. The Lima Group can’t offer anything like that and nobody, least of all host Chile, would dare to close their economy to China and put their money where their mouths are.
The Lima Group will therefore not sway new international players with its current approach, least of all the heavyweights and the meeting is unlikely to produce tangible results apart from paper filled with declarations.
Christian is Managing Editor at Chile Today, where he curates the foreign policy blog Teatinos One/Eighty. Christian is also Lead Editor of E-International Relations, co-editor of an open access textbook on International Relations Theory and Director at the Chilean Association of International Specialists (ACHEI).