The Patterson School’s Spring 2016 Crisis Simulation was based on the economic crisis in Venezuela. Delegations from Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, and the United States gathered in Caracas to meet with the Venezuelan delegation to discuss the delivery of immediate humanitarian assistance, as well as to arrange long-term multilateral solutions out of crisis and towards greater regional stability.
Negotiations started out smoothly, and all countries present seemed willing to cooperate and provide what they were able to help alleviate the suffering of Venezuela’s citizens. Differences in strategy and goals, however, quickly became apparent. Early on, the United States was edged out of extensive involvement due to Brazil’s desired dominance and a common understanding that the issue was South American in scope. It also became clear that Venezuela was precluded from signing agreements with certain countries, complicating the willingness of all parties to cooperate with the provision of aid.
The first crisis, the re-emergence of FARC and their kidnapping of other delegation’s team members, threatened to undo some already fragile relationships. Most significantly, the delivery of aid to Venezuela was complicated by the concerns of multiple delegations that it would be intercepted and misappropriated by FARC.
Shortly after the emergence of FARC, and in true Crisis Simulation fashion, all power was shut off. In the spirit of Venezuela’s goal to literally keep the lights on in the midst of drought and reliance on a hydroelectric dam, teams were left to negotiate in the dark. Default communication channels were lost, and all other goals of the simulation were sacrificed to the primary aim of getting the lights back.
Venezuela and Colombia quickly came to an agreement to share energy, but just as one crisis was averted, another one emerged. Early morning on day two it was revealed that the United States’ delegation was completely shaken up under a new administration. All agreements they had signed previously were thus invalidated and their involvement even more restrained.
Despite the three major crisis moments, multiple agreements were ultimately signed to ensure the deliverance of multilateral food and economic aid to Venezuela. Brazil also worked closely with Venezuela to provide long-term investments in alternative energy sources. Overall there was a sense that all delegations were interested in ongoing talks to ensure greater trade facilitation, closer monitoring of both government corruption and peace with FARC, and a renewed sense of regional pride to help bring political and economic stability to Venezuela and the region at large.
Lee Birdwhistell is a Master’s candidate at the Patterson School of Diplomacy, majoring in Development and International Organizations. She is interested in human rights, human migration and refugee rights, and the politics of development in Central and South America. She hopes to pursue a career in an international non-profit organization that specializes in research and advocacy in these areas.