In the United States of America’s long, twisted history of toppling foreign regimes, one would never imagine that America’s support for a coup would be presented in under 280 characters. President Donald J. Trump continued his pattern of using Twitter to convey important changes in policy, when, on Jan. 23, he tweeted that the, “citizens of Venezuela have suffered too long,” under the Maduro regime.
This tweet comes at a time when Venezuela’s economy is crumbling due to a variety of factors, including a drop in oil prices and devastating U.S. sanctions against the country. According to the International Monetary Fund, Venezuela’s gross domestic product has decreased in its third-consecutive year, and dropped around 18 percent in 2018. The woes of Venezuela do not end at economic hardship, but rather include its contested elections that took place in May 2018. Venezuela’s current President, Nicolas Maduro, who took power in April 2013 after the death of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, has been accused of hindering free elections as a large number of candidates were barred from running in 2018. The opposition-controlled National Assembly stated that Maduro’s second term is illegitimate and called to declare the presidency vacant. However, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that such actions were unconstitutional. Despite the court’s ruling, Juan Guiado, leader of the opposition, declared himself as interim president.
While I feel for the thousands of Venezuelans who have fled their country due to the failing economy, and while I abhor Maduro’s tyranny, the President’s push for a coup is a violation of international law. As aforementioned, Venezuela is in this situation due a number of factors, but it must be stressed that the U.S.’s sanctions have had a direct impact on the economy and the lives of innocent Venezuelans. In 2018, after Maduro’s violent crackdown on protesters, the Trump Administration restricted trade in Venezuelan bonds, which would keep the country out of credit markets. Recently, the administration took aim at Venezuela’s gold sales, but the recent announcement of sanctioning Venezuela’s oil company, PDVSA, is a major escalation. According to a United Nations report published on Aug. 3, 2018, the effects of these sanctions have contributed to many deaths as Venezuela lacks access to medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. If the United States truly cared about Venezuelans, then it would remove these regressive sanctions.
We are to believe that President Trump and his administration truly care about the plight of Venezuelans, yet the President is incapable of helping his own citizens. According to a study by the American Journal of Public Health, there are around 45,000 annual deaths that are associated with the lack of health insurance. A report published in 2017 found evidence of a resurgence of third-world diseases in rural Alabama. Can the President truly help others while not being able to help his own? And does Trump truly want to help? As history has shown, regime changes committed by the U.S. have always had nefarious intentions. This seems to be the case with the recent calls to oust Maduro as John Bolton, a former architect of the Iraq War, and the President’s current National Security advisor, has stated that a regime change in Venezuela would be great for “American business.”
Once again, it seems that America is not too far off from becoming entrenched in a never-ending conflict due to corporate interests and pure hubris.