Venezuela has been in turmoil for some time now and today is no different. However, our new President is not going to sit back and watch things deteriorate on an international platform like the last administration. President Trump made it clear that he would take strong action against Venezuelan socialist leader Nicolas Maduro in the form of economic sanctions if he followed through with creating and implementing a non-elected constituent assembly.
This past Sunday Venezuelan citizens unanimously rejected the reconstitution of the country. A total of 98 percent of 7.2 million voters indicated this was not what they wanted. The constituent assembly is known in Venezuela as the constituyente. People fear this will create an authoritarian regime in the government where they handpick leaders who only subscribe to the government’s socialist ideology.
Maduro recently said the following to the public,
“I urge the opposition: ‘Don’t go crazy, calm down.’ As president of the republic, I make a call for peace.”
In a press release, President Trump praised the Venezuelan people for their votes and called them strong and courageous for what they did. He castigated Maduro as a bad leader whom he says dreams of becoming a dictator. In the press statement, he said,
“Yesterday, the Venezuelan people again made clear that they stand for democracy, freedom, and rule of law. Yet their strong and courageous actions continue to be ignored by a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator. The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles. If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions. The United States once again calls for free and fair elections and stands with the people of Venezuela in their quest to restore their country to a full and prosperous democracy.”
Since his inauguration, President Trump has supported the liberation of Venezuelans who have consistently been caught up in armed conflict while simultaneously taking a hard line stance against more left wing governments that oppress their people. This is much unlike the Obama administration who rarely spoke out against this Venezuelan dictatorship.
The Venezuelan foreign minister Samuel Moncada was not pleased with President Trump’s comments and he said the following after Trump’s press statement was released,
“Obviously the U.S. government is accustomed to humiliating other nations through its international relations and believes that it will get the subordinate response it is used to. The United States unashamedly favors the violent and extremist sectors of Venezuelans politics, who support terror to overthrow a popular and democratic government. We do not know who could have written, let alone authorized, a statement with such conceptual and moral poverty. The thin democratic veil of the Venezuelan opposition has fallen, and reveals the brutal interventionist force of the U.S. government, which has been behind the violence suffered by the Venezuelan people in the last four months.”
Maduro had imprisoned his opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and in a clear sign of solidarity, President Trump hosted the opposition party leader’s wife, Lilian Tintori at the White House. Shortly thereafter he called for Lopez’s immediate release but Maduro did not listen because Lopez remains confined, this time under house arrest.
President Trump is not just targeting Venezuela but all oppressive regimes. When taking office he took a harder line approach to Cuban diplomacy where he rolled back some of the thawing of relations between Cuba and the United States. Venezuela and Cuba are close allies so the President’s actions are not at all surprising.
Edward Glossop, Latin America economist with the London-based economic think tank Capital Economics, said the following about what the effects of economic sanctions would be,
“There have been US sanctions on Venezuela but they were just targeted at certain individuals with asset freezes and stopping them going to the US, rather than sanctions on oil exports which would be much more explosive. There is no real indication that the US is willing to go as far as sanctioning the oil industry because it’s not clear who that hurts. It might hasten the end of Maduro’s regime but would also definitely make the humanitarian crisis worse in the near-term at least.”
One thing is clear. The Venezuelan government is oppressing their people and President Trump will do everything in his power to ensure this doesn’t happen.