Venezuela government isn’t represented at WEF, but its challenges are

Ricardo Hausmann, director at the Center for International Development. Photo by: Benedikt von Loebell / World Economic Forum / CC BY-NC-SA

Citizens in Venezuela’s capital Caracas and throughout the country took to the streets on Thursday to protest against the latest in a string of government actions to demolish democratic institutions.

At the same time, top Latin American government officials and private sector leaders gathered in Buenos Aires to discuss possible ways forward past political and economic setbacks many countries in the region are facing. That debate includes crisis-torn Venezuela, although government officials from the embroiled nation are notably absent from the gathering.

The current unrest in Venezuela was sparked by the Supreme Court’s move to assume control of the country's opposition-led congress, Reuters reported.

Here in Buenos Aires, an upcoming forum session will focus on the latest political and socioeconomic developments in Venezuela. The session is closed to press, but Devex caught up with Ricardo Hausmann, former minister of planning of Venezuela and current director of Harvard's Center for International Development, to get his take on what will likely be discussed.

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“I think everything will be talked about, and aired,” he said of the upcoming panel, which includes IDEA Executive Director Asdrubal Aguiar, Perseus Strategies Managing Director Jared Genser, Datanalisis President Luis Vincente Leon, and PagoFlash CEO Danhalit Zamalloa.

He expects panelists to touch on the “comic interpretations” of Venezuelan law under the current regime, the ongoing protests and unrest and the political actions that sparked it, and to recognize that Venezuelan people have been “lonely while watching a disaster unfold at home with little international response.”

“Latin America has finally decided to call a spade a spade, that this is in every possible sense of the word a dictatorship — and a really violent and nasty one,” Hausmann told Devex, between receiving texts and video of the action on the streets in Caracas from contacts in the country.

He is seeing a moment now, he said, where the Latin American and larger global community are coming to a certain consensus together: “This is the moment in the 18 years of history of this regime that the international community has been most supportive of democracy.”

For everything you need to know about the World Economic Forum on Latin America, follow our coverage this week and join the conversation on Latin America's future. Follow @devex, @kellierin, @amylieberman and @raj_devex and tag #la17 and #wef.

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About the author

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    Kelli Rogers

    Kelli Rogers is a global development reporter for Devex. Based in Bangkok, she covers disaster and crisis response, innovation, women’s rights, and development trends throughout Asia. Prior to her current post, she covered leadership, careers, and the USAID implementer community from Washington, D.C. Previously, she reported on social and environmental issues from Nairobi, Kenya. Kelli holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, and has since reported from more than 20 countries.