“The Trump administration on Monday sanctioned Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, ratcheting up pressure on socialist President Nicolas Maduro to cede power to the U.S.-backed opposition in the oil-rich nation in South America.” AP News
“More than 700 opponents of President Nicolas Maduro have been arrested during the latest push by Venezuela’s opposition to oust the socialist leader.” AP News
Last week, the US recognized Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s opposition leader, as the country’s interim President. The Flip Side
Both sides oppose Maduro, with many calling on the US to provide further non-military assistance to Guaido.
“Look at who supports whom. Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Canada, Peru, Colombia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Honduras back Guaidó. Mexico, Bolivia, Cuba, China, Turkey, and Russia are for Maduro. Also Hezbollah. When Hezbollah is on your side, you’ve hit bottom.” National Review
“The choices in Venezuela shouldn’t be between inaction and intervention… Venezuela is a greater threat to the stability of Colombia and Brazil, two conservative governments allied with the United States, both with a stable economy and strong militaries. The United States should encourage them to balance Venezuela and depend on them to provide the ground troops, if ever there is an intervention, and provide its diplomatic muscle.” The Federalist
“Building an off-ramp for the Maduro regime will be difficult. But a combination of rising costs on Maduro’s inner circle through targeted sanctions and prosecutions, reassurance to the military’s rank and file that they will benefit from a transition to democracy and positive incentives of economic assistance by entities willing to negotiate with the new interim government (such as the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank) will make legitimate democratic change, in accordance with Venezuela’s constitution, more likely.” The Hill
Other opinions below.
The decision to recognize Guaido “was a well-oiled diplomatic campaign, closely coordinated with allies and rigorously on message. It was, in a word, un-Trumpian… Here was a president who preaches America First, who rarely invokes democracy and human rights in his unscripted remarks… sticking his neck out to restore democracy in a country that doesn’t usually figure among the top challenges to U.S. interests.”
“Does hypocrisy disqualify Trump’s policy? Or is there a principled basis for selective concern about Venezuela?...
“Though perhaps no more repressive than numerous others, the Venezuelan dictatorship is differentiated from, say, Saudi Arabia’s, in that it sits atop the ruins of what was once a multiparty democracy, which a large portion of its domestic population remembers and wants to renew… [Moreover] Guaidó’s transition plan, based on amnesty for military leaders and free elections, offers genuine hope for a peaceful solution… In this one instance, the Trump administration has chosen a worthy foreign policy goal.”
Regarding the sanctions, some worry that they might backfire. “Maduro needs a good scapegoat… If the economy tanks even further than it already has, the Venezuelan leader can blame the US sanctions and perhaps regain some favor among elites — particularly the military leadership — whose support he needs in order to remain in power.”
“Few Americans will likely be interested in what’s going on in this small country the size of New York state, and yet it offers major political lessons for our country...
“First, it demonstrates that both of our major political parties need to beware of gridlock and failure to solve the people’s problems... Second, it shows how our policy toward Latin America needs fundamental rethinking... And third, it underscores that socialism is not the way forward for us or for Latin America, especially when accompanied by the politics of self-perpetuating strongmen."
Many are criticizing the socialist left. “Americans deserve to know why four [Democratic Socialist] members of Congress have decided to stand with a cruel tyrant over U.S. interests. Not only are they undermining U.S. foreign policy and hurting the cause of Venezuelan democracy, their advocacy bolsters Putin’s regional objectives—all at the expense of a young, democratically-elected leader who, if he were an American, would be caucusing alongside them.”
Regarding the sanctions, it’s worth noting that “Maduro's power is almost entirely sustained by his oil sales. Without that revenue, Chavez's ludicrous successor will struggle to pay off senior military officers he relies upon for protection… This sanctions decision, then, represents a calibrated step towards increasing pressure on Maduro in a way that attempts to peacefully drive him out of power.”
Canadians play an impromptu hockey game in the middle of the highway while stuck in traffic.