U.S. open to intervention in Venezuela


Cartoon By: Abedayo Oladele/The Guilfordian

In a press conference meant to detail new sanctions against Venezuela on Jan. 30, Defense Secretary John Bolton held a notebook with what seems to either be a terrible blunder, or a deliberate threat, scribbled in black ink on the first page are the words “5,000 troops to Colombia.”

Venezuela is in the midst of an ongoing political crisis that may culminate in a military intervention from the United States. A political insurgent and the leader of the Popular Will Party Juan Guaidó declared himself president on the grounds that the last presidential election, in which Nicolás Maduro won, was falsified. There are currently two federal legislative branches in Venezuela, the constituent assembly, which is controlled by supporters of Maduro, and the National Assembly, which is in the hands of the opposition.

According to White House officials, the U.S. is open to a military intervention, in order to oust Maduro, a socialist dictator, and place Guaidó as president until new elections can be held.

“We’re not considering anything, but all options are on the table,” President Donald Trump said in a press conference.”

Trump has branded the supposed intervention as a humanitarian mission to remove a leader whose economic policy drove Venezuela into despair.

“The citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime,” Trump said in a Tweet. “Today, I have officially recognized the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido (sic), as the Interim President of Venezuela.”

However, others believe the Trump administration may have less noble motives for wanting to intervene. Three members of Congress, California Rep. Ro Khanna, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard have condemned the prospect of a U.S. intervention, saying that it would destabilize, rather than abate, Venezuela’s crisis.

“A U.S. backed coup in Venezuela is not a solution to the dire issues they face,” Omar tweeted. “Trump’s efforts to install a far-right opposition will only incite violence and further destabilize the region. We must support Mexico, Uruguay & the Vatican’s efforts to facilitate a peaceful dialogue.”

Others question why the U.S. did not propose an intervention to other non-democratic governments in Latin America.

“Some claim democracy has driven the Trump administration to intervene,” writes Historian and Venezuela specialist Alejandro Velasco in the Washington Post. “But when President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras stole the election in 2017, the United States offered him full support. Likewise, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tacitly backed Guatemala’s president, Jimmy Morales, as he quashed a United Nations-mandated anticorruption commission, Cicig, in a move widely seen as antidemocratic.”

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, but much of its oil industry was originally owned by foreign corporations. Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chávez forcibly purchased property from Conoco Philips and other oil companies, nationalizing the privately-owned oil infrastructure and expropriating the profits for government programs.

It’s no secret that recent U.S. tensions with Venezuela stem from a dispute over property. In an infamous 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez the Bush administration immediately endorsed the new president, businessman Pedro Carmona. The Guardian reports that senior U.S. officials gave advice to Venezuelan orchestrators of the coup.

“It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela,” Bolton told Fox News on Jan. 28.

Comments such as this fuel Maduro’s supporters. He points to the legacy of U.S. imperialism in Latin America as a dark precedent that will repeat itself.  Maduro continues to defend his government as legitimate and says that the supposed U.S. intervention and Venezuelan opposition is an attempted coup by Venezuela’s aristocracy and U.S. corporate interests to undermine an independent Latin American socialist nation.

In a video message uploaded on Jan. 30, Maduro urges the population not to support “another Vietnam.”

“If the government of the United States intends to intervene, they will have a much worse Vietnam than you could imagine,” Maduro said. “We do not want violence, do not allow it.”

Many Guilford students feel that an intervention would create more harm than good.

“They have backing from Russia, and the Venezuelan army,” said junior Candace Burch. “An intervention would just be a bad idea.”

“Every time the U.S. intervenes in Latin America, something goes wrong,” said junior Maya Walfall.

“I am sick of U.S. imperialism,” said junior Lizzie Kapuscinski.