Jorge G. Castañeda has a good post on Project Syndicate, in which he contrasts the U.S.’s reaction to the instability in the Ukraine to that in Venezuela. As usual, North Americans seem much more interested in what is happening on the other side of the ocean than in their own neighborhood.
As Prof. Castañeda notes:
In the case of Crimea, the deaths of hundreds of demonstrators in Kyiv and the possible Russian takeover of eastern Ukraine has called into question principles such as non-intervention. Not in Latin America: the number of students in Venezuela that are killed by government-sponsored paramilitary groups is still viewed as nobody’s business but the Venezuelans’, even though the country is a party to every regional instrument of international human-rights law. And no outside mediation is feasible without a minimum of censure or criticism of Maduro’s extremism, even if the opposition takes its lumps, too, for some of its factions’ radical, occasionally subversive stances.
Western powers are probably powerless in Ukraine, Latin America’s major players could exert great influence in Venezuela. Economic sanctions on Russia may eventually hurt, and the Kremlin may desist from further encroachment; but the Ukrainian crisis is largely impervious, in the short term, to outside involvement. In Venezuela, the danger is just as great for everybody, and addressing it is much cheaper and easier.
Of course, what is happening in Ukraine is important; but what is happening in Venezuela — the disintegration of an oil-rich, strategically important nation in the Americas — is much more so. It deserves as much, if not more, of Obama’s and Kerry’s time as the events on the Russian border.