The escalating crisis in Venezuela now threatens to bleed into Colombia, where millions of dollars in U.S. assistance have failed to curb the violence and criminal enterprises undermining internationally supported peace efforts.
Diplomats on Wednesday warned Congress that violence in Venezuela after Sunday’s widely-panned vote to strip elected lawmakers of power, coupled with that country’s severe economic crisis, could destabilize neighbors as Venezuelans either flee or criminal activity crosses the border.
“Venezuela is a disaster for Colombia,” said José Cárdenas, who previously worked in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. “It is unmitigated disaster.”
Indeed, while the State Department’s senior Latin American diplomat said Venezuelan instability is a threat to all of its neighbors, the risk is especially grave for Colombia, which is already struggling to achieve peace after 52 years of fighting that have left more than 260,000 dead.
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