Calling Venezuela one of “the most corrupt nations on Earth,” Bank of Nova Scotia Chief Executive Officer Brian Porter urged governments around the world to seize assets tied to wrongdoing and use them to support democracy in the troubled South American country.
The CEO of Canada’s third-largest lender, which has significant operations in Latin America, took the unusual step of weighing in on Venezuela’s political and humanitarian crisis through an op-ed piece published in the National Post on Tuesday.
“Once the richest and most stable democracy in Latin America, Venezuela’s democracy, economy and society have collapsed in recent years, in that order,” Porter wrote. “The time has come for governments around the world to take strong action by naming and shaming the perpetrators of the crimes committed against the Venezuelan people and by standing with Venezuela’s beleaguered democratic movement.”
Porter’s op-ed comes as Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido seeks international support for the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro, whose government is facing painful sanctions and economic collapse. In his piece, Porter referred to Guaido as “Venezuela’s legitimate president” who “has shown tremendous courage” in asking for help from other nations.
“Now we must heed that call and stand with the Venezuelan people,” Porter wrote.
Porter urged governments throughout the Americas and Europe to both support Venezuelan refugees and initiate a coordinated effort to identify and seize assets from corrupt regime officials. The proceeds, along with additional aid, should be used to provide financial support to the democratic movement in Venezuela, he wrote.
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Scotiabank, based in Toronto, does business in more than 30 countries, with significant operations in Latin America and the Caribbean, and a focus on on the Pacific Alliance countries of Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru.
Porter cited the European Union for having “strongly condemned” Maduro’s regime and supporting Guaido. Closer to home, he praised Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne for showing “tremendous courage and leadership” for “unambiguously condemning the Maduro regime’s abuses.”