Crisis in Venezuela accelerates prompting questions of U.S. involvement in region

STORY BY DANIEL SAENZ

As of now, more than three million people have fled Venezuela due to hyperinflation and government suppression of opposition parties. The Maduro-led government has routinely targeted protestors. This has caused a great deal of headaches for neighboring countries such as Colombia and Venezuela that have found themselves unable to cope with the large influx of Venezuelan refugees.

As conditions continue to worsen, there is another ongoing dispute. Who is the true president of Venezuela? Currently, Juan Guaido, the candidate who lost to Nicolas Maduro in the previous election of May 2018, has claimed that the election was a farce and that he is the rightful president. Guaido has also promised that he will restore Venezuela to democratic rule with free elections.

Reuters recently put out a report detailing where certain countries stand on the issue. Guaido’s history of protesting the Socialists since the days of Hugo Chavez has earned him the support of Trump and the United States, far-right Salvani’s Italy, Macron’s France, and far-right Bolsonaro’s Brazil. The United States has even put sanctions on Venezuela’s oil companies.

Due to their investment in Venezuela’s oil reserves, Russia and China are backing Maduro. Countries such as Bolivia, Mexico, and Cuba that are under radical left-wing rule are also backing him, or in Mexico’s case, pledging not to interfere. In order to understand such a complex puzzle, Dr. Marco A. Macias, a professor of Latin American history at Fort Hays State University, was consulted to provide some context.

At first, Dr. Macias was quick to admit that he did not know enough about the political situation in Venezuela to give an interpretation of the events.

“It is difficult to gauge because I don’t know how accurate the information coming out of Venezuela is,” Macias said. “In an era of fake news, I do not know what is coming out of Venezuela.”

Instead, he decided to focus on the brief history of the United States’ involvement with Latin America as there is currently a debate on whether or not to intervene.

“It goes all the way back to the Mexican-American war. We have intervened in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, throughout Latin America overtly,” Macias said. “The entire idea of the Monroe Doctrine was to create this perspective that Latin America is our back patio.”

When asked to see where he sees Venezuela driving Latin America, he claimed that the idea that Venezuela will destabilize the region is highly unlikely.

“Is it going to destabilize the region? I don’t think so. The region is stable and if you look at Latin America, it is leaning center to right,” Macias said. “You have a right-winger coming to power in Brazil. Historically, it just goes back and forth between left and right.”

Dr. Jay Steinmetz, a professor of Political Science at Fort Hays, commented on how this situation provides an insight into the Trump administration.

“I don’t think Trump has much say or knowledge on the issue. I think that this is [John] Bolton and people within the Trump administration who have seized on an opportunity,” Steinmetz said. “I think there is a legitimate social and economic crisis in Venezuela. I think this is something that jumped on the Trump administration, but I would not make too much of any Trump connection to this thing.”

Recently, there was a scandal where John Bolton’s notebook showed instructions moving 5,000 troops from Afghanistan to Colombia. There has been no indication that a war will start in Venezuela. However, while I am of the opinion that Maduro needs to go, Americans should be wary of whatever an opportunistic warhawk like John Bolton has planned. Rather than helping the Venezuelan people, Bolton will only do what suits his imperialist worldview.

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