Chavez: “It troubles me that the Venezuelan refugee crisis is not getting the attention it deserves”

photo of Rebecca

The newly appointed President and CEO of the Inter-American Dialogue, Rebecca Bill Chavez, spoke with the Washington Diplomat about her new role and the most urgent priorities in Latin America and the Caribbean. Prominent among her concerns was the retrogression of democracy across the region, with a pointed focus on Venezuela. 


“I have pursued my career at the intersection of academia, public policy, and international affairs. And there’s been a critical constant throughout all these various roles, and that has been my deep commitment to Latin America and the Caribbean. One of the reasons I’m really excited about the Dialogue is its commitment to democratic governance and the rule of law. That’s something I’ve spent most of my career thinking about.”

"I have been a longtime fan of the Dialogue. It was where I pointed my students as the source of information on current events in the region, but also for analysis on issues of democratic governance and economic challenges. One thing that makes the Dialogue special is that it’s truly hemispheric in nature. It’s not US-centric, and I think that makes it really unique."

“It troubles me that the Venezuelan refugee crisis is not getting the attention it deserves. It’s not on the front page. This is a man-made disaster that [Nicolás Maduro] created. It was a great step when the Biden administration granted TPS (Temporary Protected Status) to Venezuelan refugees. But the United States needs to do a lot more than it’s done.”

“The [countries that are obviously backsliding from democracy] are Venezuela and Nicaragua, but Brazil is also incredibly worrisome. One of the biggest challenges for the Biden administration is El Salvador. The government of Nayib Bukele is assuming more and more power. It has subverted all government agencies, and Guatemala is the same.”

“It’s much harder now than it was even during the Obama administration to address the root causes of migration. Rising crime and violence is becoming a major concern, as well as the militarization of law enforcement in places like Mexico.”

“We’re condemning Putin for his human rights abuses, but Maduro is also guilty of gross violations. He is one of the worst authoritarian dictators out there. Turning to Venezuela to replace Russian oil is not wise.”


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