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Latin America’s Ukraine

MEXICO CITY – By all indications, the international community has resigned itself to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Crimean “land grab,” as US Vice-President Joe Biden has called it. Once Putin decided he wanted to assume the consequences of his acts, there was very little the United States, the European Union, or the United Nations could do.

Latin America, meanwhile, is experiencing the opposite problem. Though the region’s countries have the means to stop the growing political, economic, and human-rights catastrophe in Venezuela, they lack the will, while the rest of the world’s attention to Ukraine has removed any pressure on them to act.

In Ukraine, the US and the EU seem to have decided on a sensible course of action – or, rather, on a realistic two-track response – that is unlikely to produce spectacular results, but is certainly preferable to passivity.

First, the sanctions imposed so far – visa cancellations, asset seizures or freezes, and the like – will not give Sevastopol back to Ukraine, but they will eventually bite, at least in certain Russian business sectors. Whether this unites the oligarchs, or divides them, and whether it forces them to take their money out of Russia, or bring it back home, cannot be predicted.