The Size and Importance of Venezuela's Illegal Economies | Wilson Center
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The Size and Importance of Venezuela's Illegal Economies

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Webcast Recap

The dimensions of Venezuela’s illegal economies have been growing for more than two decades. Illicit activities include narcotics trafficking, illegal gold mining, and the long-standing smuggling of gasoline, food, and other basic necessities across porous borders.

U.S.-imposed sanctions in 2019 on the country’s all-important but declining oil industry, in addition to earlier financial and individual sanctions, have increased the importance of illegal sources of income for the government of Nicolás Maduro. How can we understand the relationship between the Venezuelan state and the various illegal economies, at least one of which—gold—has the strong presence and involvement of Colombia’s ELN and FARC guerrillas? How important are these resources for the survival of Maduro regime? Is it possible to quantify the revenue from these various illicit activities or the ways such revenue is used? How are communities and regions within Venezuela, particularly along the border, adapting to the expansion of criminal activity, which serves as a source of income and employment? 



Asdrúbal Oliveros, Director, Ecoanalítica

Bram Ebus, Consultant, International Crisis Group

Rocío San Miguel, President, Control Ciudadano para la Seguridad, la Defensa y la Fuerza Armada Nacional

Risa Grais-Targow, Director, Latin America, Eurasia

Joshua Goodman, Latin America Correspondent, The Associated Press



Cynthia J. Arnson, Director, Latin American Program


Photo by Flickr by Jonatan Calderon