Though the BRIC economies have largely come and gone from international headlines, perhaps a similar sounding, yet more threatening alliance is emerging as a distant cousin. The VRIC: Venezuela, Russia, Iran & China. Rather than a rising group of emerging economies challenging the U.S. and Europe for global market share, the VRIC is challenging the U.S. and its Latin American allies from a national security perspective. While Cuba’s role in propping up the Maduro regime through sustained deployments of security and intelligence personnel continues, lesser known is the increasing support given by extra-regional actors: Russia, China and Iran, and the non-state actors they support. Russia is the Maduro regime’s principal arms dealer and recently sent a contingent of military technicians. China continues to bankroll Caracas with billions of dollars in loans, effectively keeping the government solvent and dependent on Beijing in the wake of low oil prices. Meanwhile, Iran supports the Maduro regime security apparatus with IRGC and Basij advisors, targeting Venezuelan civilians in much the same way it does during mass protests in Tehran.
Yet, is the “VRIC” a full-blown security alliance? And if so, what should be the international community’s response? Join us for a thoughtful discussion on arguably the most important national security challenge in the Western Hemisphere today.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX): Committee on Foreign Relations, Committee on the Judiciary; U.S. Senate
Jose Gustavo Arocha: SFS Research Fellow; former Lt. Col. in Venezuelan Army and former political prisoner from 2014 to 2015; MPA and Mason Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
Joseph Humire: Executive Director, Center for a Secure Free Society
Clare M. Lopez: Vice President for Research and Analysis, Center for Security Policy
Matthew Zweig: Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Lauren Meier: National Security Reporter, The Washington Times