On Jan. 23, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself as Venezuela’s acting president. Within minutes of the announcement, President Donald Trump recognized Guaidó as interim president.
The democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro has seen protests over his presidency grow stronger throughout the country. Many problems have plagued his administration, but he was recently re-elected.
The election was boycotted by the opposition and claims of vote-rigging occurred.
After Trump’s recognition of Guaidó as acting president, Maduro cut diplomatic ties with the United States, giving diplomatic leaders seventy-two hours to leave the country.
The United States has a long history of intervening in foreign countries’ governments. Since the cold war era, the U.S. has been involved in over forty regime changes, either directly or indirectly.
U.S. interventionist policy has been the cause of destabilization in many regions throughout history. As apart of our cold war strategy, in 1953 we overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad Mossadegh. Because of fears that Mossadegh would shift Iran towards Soviet influence, the United States and Britain worked together to overthrow the prime minister, and installed the Shah.
The pro-Western Shah ruled as a brutal dictator. The result of this shift of power led to the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini and an incident involving hostages at the U.S. embassy. It is also the source of our current hostile relationship with Iran.
A more recent example is U.S. involvement in the Yemeni civil war. The U.S. has been supporting Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the war, which has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. Saudi Arabia often targets civilians, including hospitals and schools, and the U.S. provides weapons and intelligence. As a result of the war, millions of people are starving in the war torn country. Instead of fueling the war, we should be helping solve the crisis through diplomatic means.
U.S. interventionist policy has a history of failure. If the United States was genuinely interested in helping Venezuela maintain a stable democracy, there are far more productive methods to achieve this goal. Providing financial aid or neutral oversight to investigate the accuracy of the past election is one solution. We should be trying to maintain the people's faith in their democracy, not eroding it.
While Maduro’s policies have been detrimental to the country, it’s important for the people to be able to freely elect their leader. Losing faith in their democracy could lead to further destabilization.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic candidate for president, has been vocal about her opposition to U.S. intervention. She recently tweeted, “The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don’t want other countries to choose our leaders--so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.”
U.S. interventionist policy fails far too often. As one of the most powerful nations in the world, we have a massive amount of influence. We should be using this influence to encourage a healthy democracy, not disrupting a democratically elected government. Let the people of Venezuela choose their own path.