Venezuela Closes Colombian Border, Confiscates Christmas Toys
Neither of Maduro's moves seems likely to improve the plight of his people.
The Venezuelan government released four more political prisoners on Tuesday, apparently "lesser-known” opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. It is still to be seen if this will resume the Vatican-brokered peace talks between the opposition and the government which had recently stalled, as the opposition noted that the government had not yet made any concessions.
The Venezuelan government released four more political prisoners on Tuesday, apparently “lesser-known” opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. It is still to be seen if this will resume the Vatican-brokered peace talks between the opposition and the government which had recently stalled, as the opposition noted that the government had not yet made any concessions.
What has already been seen, however, is that Maduro’s government is not going to make concessions toward solving the country’s economic crisis — like by admitting that there is an economic crisis.
Instead, its answer to inflation and the rapid devaluation of its bolívar has been to pull its largest bill from circulation and replace it with coins, and to announce that new, larger bills will arrive on Thursday of this week.
On Monday, Maduro also closed his country’s border with Colombia for 72 hours to destroy the “mafia” that he has said is responsible for ruining the economy. Prior to the announcement, many Venezuelans were going to Colombia to try to find food and medicine — or, in the case of women, to sell their hair for money. It seems unlikely, then, that the Colombian border is either the cause of or a solution to Venezuela’s cash crisis.
But, then, neither is Maduro’s other recent plot: The government recently confiscated millions of toys from a toy manufacturer. It accused the company of plotting to sell the toys at inflated prices. Venezuelan families have noted that they will now not be able to buy them at all. Maduro’s government plans to make the 3.821 million toys available to the poor at below market prices.
While nobody can get too upset at the principle of affordable toys this holiday season, government intervention in markets — currency, food, energy, and more — is arguably what got Venezuela into this whole mess in the first place.
Photo credit: FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images
Emily Tamkin is a global affairs journalist and the author of The Influence of Soros and Bad Jews. Twitter: @emilyctamkin
More from Foreign Policy
Saudi-Iranian Détente Is a Wake-Up Call for America
The peace plan is a big deal—and it’s no accident that China brokered it.
The U.S.-Israel Relationship No Longer Makes Sense
If Israel and its supporters want the country to continue receiving U.S. largesse, they will need to come up with a new narrative.
Putin Is Trapped in the Sunk-Cost Fallacy of War
Moscow is grasping for meaning in a meaningless invasion.
How China’s Saudi-Iran Deal Can Serve U.S. Interests
And why there’s less to Beijing’s diplomatic breakthrough than meets the eye.