U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield, remembered in Latin America for his clear and straightforward opinions in his more than 40 years of diplomatic experience, doesn’t hesitate to describe Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis as “something never seen in the history of this hemisphere.”
In an exclusive interview with VOA’s Venezuela 360, Ambassador Brownfield defended the United States’ current policy toward Venezuela, highlighting that it includes elements that former U.S. administrations had not incorporated.
Labeling the disputed Venezuelan government as a mafia-state, the ambassador said that the country “is much more than illegal drug trafficking. It’s money laundering, it’s illegal mining, it’s support for criminal organizations operating outside Venezuela, but which have bases in Venezuela. It’s probably the most corrupt government in the entire world. It’s worse than a narco-state. It’s a narco-state, but on steroids!” he said.
Based on these observations, the ambassador made a new, urgent appeal, calling on the international community to take seriously “this humanitarian disaster in Venezuela.”
The entire interview with Ambassador Brownfield follows below:
VOA: Ambassador William Brownfield, in 40 years of diplomatic experience, most of it in Latin America, have you seen a crisis like that of Venezuela, with so many elements together?
Ambassador William Brownfield: I don’t think so. The truth is that not only in the last 40 years, but maybe in the last 200 years. Never in the history of this hemisphere have we seen a country so tragically in this situation.
VOA: What do you think the U.S. government is doing right in its approach to the crisis in Venezuela? And how is it failing?
Brownfield: I believe, and I mean it, I think that its policy toward Venezuela has been correct and has been very effective. Its policy incorporates several essential elements that we probably hadn’t seen in the previous administration. The idea of sanctions, not only to sanction institutions and agencies, but to sanction individuals and to show the Venezuelan people who are those enriching themselves as a result of their government positions from Venezuela’s natural wealth, [is] important, positive.
Its policy of combining with others in the international community [is also important]. A third element, in my opinion, is not only the support and humanitarian aid, but also using that disaster for the more than 5 million Venezuelan citizens and possibly even 10 million more who want to flee Venezuela, to shine a light on the abuse and nonsense of a government that allowed the country to become the worst humanitarian crisis, not only in the hemisphere, [but] maybe in the entire world.
VOA: About the topic of drug trafficking: What elements do you think are already consolidated in Venezuela for it to be considered a “mafia-state”?
Brownfield: Venezuela is much more than illegal drug trafficking. It is money laundering, it is illegal mining, it is support for criminal organizations operating outside Venezuela, but which have bases in Venezuela. It’s probably the most corrupt government in the entire world. It’s worse than a narco-state. It’s a narco-state, but on steroids!
VOA: How do you assess the change in Latin America during the last three years with this immigration crisis?
Brownfield: It’s sad, but it’s time for the international community to take this humanitarian disaster in Venezuela seriously. Two or three years ago, the United Nations talked about Syria as the world’s crisis, Afghanistan or lingering problems in Iraq. The truth is that at this time there are more Venezuelan refugees than from any other country in the world. I say that with a certain sadness, because in my opinion, the efforts, the sacrifices of the governments of the Americas, in their support of millions and millions of Venezuelan citizens, have been incredibly noble.