The Venezuelan Migrant Crisis has been regionally politicized and is now at risk of being militarily and strategically exploited by the US.
Long-simmering tensions finally exploded in a Brazilian border town after four Venezuelans robbed, beat, and stabbed a restaurant owner before the locals violently drove hundreds of them back to their country, which dangerously led to some of these coercively “repatriated” migrants carrying out reprisal attacks against some Brazilians in Venezuela. Brasilia responded by deploying troops to the border town and Venezuela demanded that its southern neighbor ensure the security of its citizens in the country, but the flood of an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelan migrants throughout the region over the past couple of years has overwhelmed local communities and contributed to a destabilizing “Weapons of Mass Migration” dynamic.
To explain, Ivy League researcher Kelly M. Greenhill’s breakthrough 2010 research describes the inevitably disruptive effect that different categories of large-scale population flows can have and how this can be exploited for political purposes. The estimated 50,000 Venezuelan migrants that crossed into Brazil’s Roraima border state where the latest clashes took place are equivalent to nearly 10% of its total population, so it was only a matter of time before tensions with the locals spilled over and created a political crisis. Something similar is also happening elsewhere in South America, albeit not yet to as dramatic of a degree as in northern Brazil, but the political ripples are nevertheless apparent.
Ecuador just mandated that the citizens of its nominal Bolivarian “ally” can only enter the country with their passports instead of their usual identity card that most of them had been using for years now per an agreement between both countries, which was soon thereafter followed up by Peru announcing the same restriction that is intended to curtail the flow of Venezuelan migrants into both Andean countries who oftentimes lack this international document. It’s predicted that this could lead to thousands of Venezuelan migrants being stuck in Colombia, which is why the US announced that it’ll dispatch a hospital ship to NATO’s newly designated and first-ever Latin American “global partner” following Mattis’ recent visit to the country.
This is a disturbing sign of “mission creep” that follows deliberately leaked reports last month about Trump’s purported willingness to invade Venezuela last year, which seem in hindsight to have been part of a pronounced psychological pressure campaign on the beleaguered country’s leadership that preceded the failed US-linked drone assassination attempt against Maduro four weeks later. Although the Venezuelan-Brazilian clashes in northern Roraima State last weekend were an organic outcome of the “Weapons of Mass Migration” dynamic that the US created through its Hybrid War on Venezuela, the tacit regional coordination between Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia wasn’t, with this actually being part of the US’ preplanned politicization of the humanitarian crisis.
It was purely coincidental that the clashes happened when they did, but they provided a convenient justification for clamping down on the freedom of regional movement that Venezuelan migrants previously enjoyed and consequently provoking the manufactured pretext for the US to dispatch its hospital ship to Colombia where many of them are now stranded in desperate conditions. It’s conceivable that a more robust military deployment to the country could be forthcoming and committed to under the disguise of a “humanitarian intervention”. The US’ goal might not be to invade Venezuela like recent reports alleged, but to use the Migrant Crisis that it’s partially responsible for as the opportunity to make Colombia the post-“Pink Tide” regional leader.
Colombia’s comparatively larger population and economy, as well as its geostrategic bi-oceanic position, make it the US’ ideal “Lead From Behind” partner, and its growing proxy influence over Ecuador, Peru, and part of the anti-government Venezuelan population is leading to the de-facto creation of a so-called “Gran Colombia” that the US wants to use for reorganizing South America. Its newly elected right-wing leader declared that it will withdraw from the Unasur continental integrational bloc, which follows Ecuador threatening to seize its headquarters in the country last month, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Colombia encourages its Ecuadorean, Peruvian, and possibly even Brazilian neighbors to do the same and effectively destroy the bloc, thus reversing one of the greatest accomplishments of the “Pink Tide” era.