The political situation in Venezuela continues to go from bad to worse. If you’re in the camp that believes saving democratic institutions stood a chance in Venezuela, yesterday should serve as your last wake up call. Stop hitting the political snooze button. Democracy is dead in Venezuela. In my book, democracy has been dead in Venezuela for many years.
The U.S. Department of State issued the following statement:
The United States strongly condemns the assumption of legislative powers by the illegitimate Constituent Assembly. This power grab is designed to supplant the democratically-elected National Assembly with an authoritarian committee operating above the law. In our view, the democratically-elected National Assembly is the only legitimate legislative body.
We join Venezuela’s neighbors in condemning the illegitimate Constituent Assembly and its authoritarian directives. As long as the Maduro regime continues to conduct itself as an authoritarian dictatorship, we are prepared to bring the full weight of American economic and diplomatic power to bear in support of the Venezuelan people as they seek to restore their democracy.
Unlike the Obama administration that had a policy of appeasement toward the Venezuelan left-wing dictatorship, the Trump administration has opted to stand with those people who are struggling, daily, to take back their country. They have imposed economic sanctions several times and, bravely, have also made several efforts to rally regional and international partners to persuade the Venezuelan regime that confrontation is not the way forward.
In addition to ratcheting upward economic sanctions on the Venezuela regime, as well as urging allies to do the same, the United States and like-minded friends of liberty must redouble efforts ensure that thousands of Cuban regime military and intelligence advisors leave Venezuela immediately.
As I shared with the Miami Herald this week,
“[i]f you want to resolve the Venezuelan problem, you have to resolve the Cuba issue,” and vice versa. Cuba has made clear that it seeks to undermine U.S. national interests, rather than work for a peaceful solution in Venezuela.
The opposition must unite and continue the good work it is doing to press forward on for the cause of democracy and rule of law. While I’m very skeptical of the diplomatic efforts launched by the Organization of American States (OAS) and other international players, these processes should be refocused and redoubled.
The Trump administration, as I said earlier, bravely, has been aggressively working back channels to ensure all voices are heard and all possible solutions explored. All parties need to, first and foremost, get Cuba out of Venezuela. Permanently. As you monitor this issue, keep in mind that the Trump administration inherited this mess, along with other hotspots in the Western Hemisphere.
In the case of Venezuela, it is a byproduct of a socialist experiment tolerated by center-left parties and movements around the world for far too long. Most of the solutions involve, in essence, brokering deals amongst socialist or center-left political movements. These people and organizations of the Left have an obligation to press the Maduro and Castro regimes to end this madness before anymore people die or the matter spreads to other parts of the Andean region. Hemispheric security and stability are at stake. It is not just an isolated problem in one South American nation.
On a related matter, if recent news reports turn out to be true that Cuba allowed, or was involved in, attacks on U.S. government personnel who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, in my book, Cuba has already picked a lane on Venezuela and other issues. Cuba picked wrong. Cuba, and its proxy Venezuela, need to be reminded, daily, that access to the U.S. market is a privilege, not a right. They also need reminding that if you attack American citizens, there will be consequences.