04/17/2017

Trump Must Speak Out On Venezuela

Noah Rothman, Commentary

The increasingly dystopian, socialist-led nation of Venezuela is again on fire. Rocked by social unrest that is being met with a violent response from police and pro-government forces, the regime of Nicholas Maduro is teetering. In tragedy, there is opportunity. President Donald Trump has been handed a chance to right one of the greatest injustices of Barack Obama’s presidency. By so far failing to speak out against Maduro’s brutal regime, however, Trump is repeating the mistakes of the past.

In the last week, five Venezuelans—including a 13-year-old child—have been killed either by police or by the few “protesters” demonstrating violently in support of the government. The turmoil has been ongoing for the last two weeks and follows the failure of a virtual coup by a government desperately clinging to power.

On March 29, Venezuela’s Supreme Court stripped the country’s legislature of its powers. The National Assembly’s legislative authority was assumed by the Court, which had already been packed with judges loyal to Maduro. The country’s opposition leader called the move a putsch vesting dictatorial powers in its socialist president. South American nations broke off ties with Venezuela, and the president of the Organization of American States accused Maduro of killing off the last remnants of Venezuelan democracy.

The move prompted a violent response from Venezuelan citizens who immediately took to the streets. They have not yet dispersed, despite the fact that the nation’s Supreme Court reversed itself just three days after its historic ruling. These demonstrations are by far the largest and bloodiest since similar unrest in 2014 threatened to topple the late Hugo Chavez’s regime. At a time in which the Venezuelan regime was at its most vulnerable, President Obama declined to make the most of the moment and give the government a push over the cliff it deserved.

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