The United States, some European countries, Australia, and a few South American countries recognized Venezuelan self-declared leader Juan Guaidó, the current president of the National Assembly, as interim President of Venezuela while the UN urged dialogue in Venezuela to avoid another Syria, making President Maduro more isolated. Russia, China, Cuba, Mexico, and Turkey, however, showed solidarity with Maduro. Thus, Venezuela has two Presidents, one, chosen by the people, albeit under claims of election fraud, and the other one chosen by other countries. No doubt Venezuela has a big economic crisis; that is why so many people left and continue to leave the country. The economic crisis in Venezuela started with Hugo Chávez, who nationalized the oil and relied too much on high oil revenue to undergird his administration, which kept him in power. But the oil prices dropped, and the country’s problems continue.
No doubt Venezuela’s elections were controversial. But, the current situation in Venezuela, calling for early elections, means calling for a civil war in the country. So many countries’ elections were problematic, including the United States with several of President Trump’s aides being indicted for foreign meddling in the Presidential election. In 2017, the Kurds went to the polls in September 2017 to answer a simple question about whether they wished to remain part of Iraq or to create their own state. “Yes” votes for independence overwhelmingly prevailed at 93 percent. Despite the Kurds being the only minority that did not have its own state, the international community did not support President Barzani. Yet, the United States and Western countries will recognize an individual as a legitimate president just because he has declared himself president without being elected.
The questions is what about so many global dictators from Kim Jong-Un of North Korea to Syrian President Assad? Why not go after them? International power players went after Assad’s regime in Syria, which is now in chaos and has caused the destruction of so many lives as well as of the country, as the result of masses trying to leave by saying we have to leave Syria. When President Trump declared that he was going to pull US troops out of Syria, he explained that “we are not the police of the world.” Initially, the war in Syria started because people accused Assad of being a dictator, subsequently ISIS evolved in the power vacuum, and then the allies focused on eradicating ISIS. Now, they claim that ISIS is essentially finished, so they can take their troops home, but Assad is still in power. Millions of Syrians are displaced from their homes, and thousands have been killed. What makes the cases against Maduro different than the one against Assad?
Trump is a money worshiper, one who does not care about human value. To Trump, seemingly, if someone has money, then he is good no matter what he does or did. Trump overlooked the egregious actions of the Saudi King as well presumably because of his enormous wealth. Democracy is a name of game, and people think like him. His reality is the survival of the fittest. The international community is already complaining and does not believe that the US and Western countries really care about democracy, but instead are acting in a unilateral manner, invading or removing another president of a country, making themselves appear to take the moral high ground.
It is not Trump’s business to remove President Maduro. Venezuela is a sovereign independent country, and the people of Venezuela elected Maduro after Chávez died. Neither America nor the Western countries caused the economic problems in Venezuela, so why should America and its allies worry about the free falling economy there? It is true that Venezuela is number four of the top five countries that the US imports its oil from (one-half of Venezuela’s oil exports), but the US has decreased the imports since 2014 and could get its oil elsewhere. Only the Venezuelan people should worry about and help to remove their leader. Judging from media coverage, the world sees that thousands of people seem to be urging his removal as they take to the streets in protest the severe food and medicine shortages since 2014. That is why many people are leaving the country.
The tragedy is that Venezuela, the home of the world’s largest oil producing reserves, was once one of Latin America’s most prosperous countries. Former President Hugo Chávez is the one who caused Venezuela’s decline. For one thing he allied with Russia to become the biggest petroleum producing partner and in so doing became indebted to Russia, so that today Venezuela is still producing oil for Russia essentially for free to pay back its debt. But the people of Venezuela liked Chávez and did not care that he left them nothing but suffering. However, there is no doubt that Venezuelan people blame their President Maduro, for the country’s economic and humanitarian problems and want him to go. Maduro was self-picked as Chavez’s successor and is partially responsible for their suffering, But whoever caused the state of disorder today, clearly, many Venezuelan citizens would not like to have a foreign country remove Maduro for them. The best way to solve this crisis is to let the people of Venezuela remove him although it may require bloodshed.
The United States’ and Western countries’ policy toward Venezuela will only help leftist ideology in Latin America. This will make Putin a hero in Latin America and will give President Putin leverage to turn this conflict to his advantage. According to the news, Russia has already sent groups of private military contractors to Venezuela. Russian President Putin knows how to take advantage of any situation, knows how to create conflict, and has never rushed to end one.
To further complicate Maduro’s rule, last fall he took his fourth trip to China to bolster his flailing economy causing some Venezuelans to fear that he was selling out his country’s oil reserves to China who is eager to engage in debt-trap diplomacy. With China’s propensity to buy large investments in other countries, it gains an economic stranglehold on those countries when the debtors are unable to pay their debt. In September 2018, Maduro secured a five billion dollar loan from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
China has its anvil hanging over Venezuela as well Venezuela owes huge debts to China as well as to Russia. It is true that a significant number of people of Venezuela do not want Maduro, but no one voted for the Guaido either. With Russian President Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, both dictators, bargaining for influence over Venezuela, why is President Trump so bent on seeing Maduro toppled?
(Dr. Aland Mizell is President of the MCI and a regular contributor to Mindanao Times. You may email the author at:firstname.lastname@example.org)
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