Foreign Policy

Venezuela Tries to Shed Socialist Dictator

The U.S. officially sides with declared president Guaido in direct opposition to dictator Maduro.

Thomas Gallatin · Jan. 24, 2019

Venezuelans have finally had enough of the failed promises of socialism. Once again that siren of the Left has proven only to rob people of Liberty, replacing it with the misery of poverty, high crime, and starvation at the hands of an elitist, authoritarian despot. On Wednesday, the anniversary of the ousting of military dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez in 1958, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Juan Guaido, took the presidential oath before a massive crowd filling the streets of Caracas. Guaido now stands in direction opposition to Nicolas Maduro and his authoritarian grip on power.

This action was a long time coming, as we have long noted the inevitable collapse of Venezuela after Hugo Chavez aggressively implemented a socialist takeover of what was at the time South America’s wealthiest country. And since Chavez’s death it has only gotten worse. As Daniel DePetris of the Washington Examiner observes, “Venezuela under Maduro’s leadership has fallen apart at the seams. Inflation surpassed 1 million percent at the end of last year (not a typo!), a figure that makes former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe look like an economic genius. Most of Venezuela’s population is in poverty, roaming the streets for dumpsters in the hope that food may be mixed in with the rubbish. The situation has gotten so bleak that three million Venezuelans have fled to Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Ecuador — better to start over in a new country than stay in Venezuela and starve to death. Medicine is in extremely short supply, the murder rate was the highest in the world in 2017, and many of the crimes that have been committed are the direct result of the Latin American country’s sorry excuse for an economy.”

President Donald Trump was quick to announce his support for Guaido, stating, “The citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime. Today, I have officially recognized the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela.” The U.S. joins at least 13 other nations, most of which are in South America, in recognizing Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

Obviously, dictator Maduro sees things differently, and he responded to Trump’s announcement by cutting diplomatic ties with the U.S. and ordering our diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours. This sets up an interesting showdown, since the U.S. no longer recognizes Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate president. Sen. Marco Rubio was quick to raise the issue, declaring, “U.S. diplomats in [Venezuela] should present their credentials to President [Guaido]. Maduro has no authority to expel anyone. And trust me on this one, if Maduro is stupid enough to test [Trump] by harming any U.S. diplomat, the consequences would be swift & severe.”

Trump’s action puts pressure on Maduro. However, Maduro still has the support of his military, as every dictator does. He installed loyalists to control the military while at the same time revoking citizens’ right to bear arms so that he has control of all the guns. How long will Guaido be able to stay out of Maduro’s prisons? Is Venezuela headed toward civil war? Time will soon tell, but for the sake of Venezuelans we hope for a peaceful transition of power.

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