May 1, 2019

Unrest in Venezuela

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

“Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Tuesday made his strongest call yet to the military to help him oust President Nicolas Maduro… Early on Tuesday, several dozen armed troops accompanying Guaido clashed with soldiers supporting Maduro at a rally in Caracas, and large anti-government protests in the streets turned violent.” Reuters

President Donald Trump tweeted, “If Cuban Troops and Militia do not immediately CEASE military and other operations for the purpose of causing death and destruction to the Constitution of Venezuela, a full and complete embargo, together with highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba.” Twitter


Both sides agree that this is not a coup:

“Tuesday’s uprising is not a ‘coup attempt,’ as the Maduro regime, echoed by too many people abroad, calls it. Rather, it is the latest in a series of legitimate and, for the most part, nonviolent efforts by Venezuelans, both civilian and military, to throw off an oppressive, toxic regime so that they can freely elect a legitimate government. Supporters of freedom and democracy should stand in solidarity with Mr. Guaidó and the many thousands of Venezuelans now bravely asserting their rights.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“Guaido and his supporters are… trying to save their country from Maduro’s misrule. If the military does indeed defect this week, forcing Maduro to leave, Guaido has pledged to quickly prepare Venezuela for real elections. That’s not an anti-democratic coup. It’s a democratic rescue mission.”
Eli Lake, Bloomberg

See past issues

From the Left

The left supports Guaidó but urges against US military intervention.

The Maduro regime has destroyed much of Venezuela. It didn't just crush its democratic institutions; it also devastated its economy and much of its social order. By now the problem is not about politics. It's about survival. For Venezuela's neighbors, the matter is also urgent. Conditions have become so desperate that Venezuelans are fleeing by the millions, straining other countries. The UN estimates there will be more than 5 million Venezuelan refugees by the end of this year, comparable to the exodus caused by the Syrian civil war…

“The United States should refrain from intervening militarily, but should continue providing decisive diplomatic, and even logistical, support. As for the public around the world, we should hope that the powerful in Venezuela will see the light, and either persuade Maduro to leave, or escort him out of office.”
Frida Ghitis, CNN

Many note that “while the Maduro government has arrested hundreds of opponents in recent weeks, it hasn’t touched Guaidó himself, recognizing the risks of detaining the man whom many world governments recognize as the legitimate president of Venezuela. Bolton has promised a ‘significant response’ if Guaidó is touched. Tuesday’s actions will raise pressure on the regime to take action to finally stop Guaidó, and raise pressure on his international backers to take action—peaceful or otherwise—on his behalf. Today may not be the final battle for control of Venezuela, but the odds just went up significantly that Guaidó will end up dead, in jail, or sitting in the presidential palace.”
Joshua Keating, Slate

“The key seems to be whether the military will abandon the regime, and the odds are against it because of the comparative risks of being on the losing side. Officers and soldiers who join the revolt will be as good as dead if the government prevails. But those who are loyal to Maduro can expect that if he falls, the new government will find it more urgent to bring them on board than to punish them…

The U.S. posturing is as likely to taint the opposition as it is to help it. Worse, the strong words may lead Guiado and his supporters to believe Washington will use force on their behalf. It’s dangerous to encourage that hope — because it may induce them to take unwise risks, and because it could lead us to plunge into another country where our interests, like our understanding, is minimal. Sometimes it’s helpful for the U.S. government to take a role when a foreign crisis erupts. This is one where the best course is to keep quiet and stay out.”
Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune

“The Venezuelan people have international moral support for their cause and the promise of aid to rebuild, but they’re on their own against a regime backed by Cuba, Russia, China and Iran… And while the balance of arms and power seems like a David vs. Goliah contest, that may be a good thing for Venezuelans in the long run. It will be their fight to win or lose. My bet, despite the gunfire and smoke, is that Venezuelans will win if they continue to show up against the odds. They’ve already proven their country is worth fighting for.”
Fabiola Santiago, Miami Herald

Trump's “goal, it seems, is to put so much pressure on Tehran that it has no choice but to completely change its behavior — but he could end up leading the countries to the brink of war in the process… Now is typically the time when cooler heads prevail, but it’s unclear if there are cooler heads around… It’s hard to overstate how avoidable this situation was.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

From the Right

The right urges support for Guaidó, including limited military support if necessary.

From the Right

The right urges support for Guaidó, including limited military support if necessary.

Trump’s “focus on Cuba is well-designed. The island nation's highly capable security forces are the primary mechanism by which Maduro has kept his power… By focusing pressure on Cuba with far greater purpose than previously shown, Trump offers a diplomatic off-ramp for Maduro and his cronies. Without Cuba, those officials cannot bribe their way into continued power. Similarly, if Cuba goes without Venezuelan oil, as Trump's threat of an ‘embargo’ suggests, its leaders will have to abandon Maduro… Cuba faces a moment of truth. Does it choose Maduro, or does it test American resolve?”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Many note that “U.S. efforts to strangle the regime financially by cutting off the oil trade may be having their desired effect on the Caracas coffers. But Mr. Maduro still gets weapons from Moscow and Cuban intelligence helps him promote fear in the officer ranks. The American left that claims to fear U.S. intervention in the country needs to admit that Cuba is already the imperial power in Caracas… Mr. Bolton said Mr. Trump wants to see a peaceful transfer of power, and that would be the best outcome. But U.S. military assistance to the Guaidó forces can’t be ruled out. A victory for Cuba, backed by Russia in the Western hemisphere, would be a great strategic setback for U.S. interests and stability in the region. The U.S. needs to do whatever it can to help people power succeed in Venezuela.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Guaidó has asked us to cut off Maduro's oil supply to Cuba's communist government… We recognize that stopping oil cargo ships on the high seas is no small step. Deploying U.S. Navy warships to seize Maduro's oil ships is an act of force… But we believe it would serve a critical strategic purpose: ensuring that Maduro and his military supporters recognize the U.S. won't abandon Guaidó. That would persuade generals around Maduro that their best decision would be to throw support behind Guaidó. It would also suggest to Maduro that he might be best advised to depart Venezuela now.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

Others point out that “this week, military members loyal to Maduro were seen deliberately running over unarmed pro-Guaidó demonstrators in the streets with heavy, armored vehicles. Less than a decade ago, regular everyday Venezuelans were forced to turn in their weapons, leaving them defenseless against the very government that continues to oppress and attack them today.”
Katie Pavlich, The Hill

“People in the US scoff at this argument from gun-rights advocates, mainly because we’re not Venezuela and the threat here is entirely theoretical. And that’s a fair point… However, it’s also a chicken-egg argument: do we have a responsive government which poses no threat in spite of gun ownership, or because of gun ownership? Most days it may seem like the former. On days like today, with Venezuelans unable to resist tyranny despite having a First World government and economy a little over a decade ago, it looks a little more like the latter.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

Counterpoint: “after the War of 1812, President Madison… enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked. Tariffs [also] financed Mr. Lincoln’s War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer ‘has no right or claim to equality with our own… He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties’… [A tariff’s] purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.”
Patrick J. Buchanan, The American Conservative

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

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