Moving to get more overtly involved in the country where most of their efforts in recent years have been covert, the US today announced a new round of sanctions against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, which they say was meant to express disapproval over the weekend’s election.
In an attempt to consolidate full control over the government by the United Socialist Party, Maduro organized the election to establish a National Constituent Assembly, which would have the power to overrule the existing parliament, and which is being stacked with Maduro’s allies.
With public calls to boycott by materially all opposition groups, the vote is heavily contested, with official claims of around 8 million voters more than double the estimates of independent analysts. The high formal turnout and wide margins of victory are seen as the Maduro government trying to give the proceedings an air of legitimacy.
The US has been eager to insinuate itself into the affairs of Latin America for generations, and this looks no different, with the administration seemingly salivating at the prospect of declaring Venezuela an “illegal government” and a “dictatorship,” and vowing that democracy, by which they doubtless mean US interventionism, will prevail.
Yet the Venezuelan opposition isn’t eager to see the US throw itself into the middle of all of this, warning against US efforts to impose an oil embargo on the country, which is apparently the go-to suggestion of Sen. Marco Rubio (R – FL),
Indeed, many in the opposition believe that anything the US does will be bad news for them, as it will allow Maduro, with at least some credibility, to argue that he is a victim of “US imperialism,” and that suggestion will split the substantial bloc of Latin American countries who are critical of Maduro’s actions.
In making this somehow America’s problem, the Trump Administration sets itself up as a convenient scapegoat for Maduro, and harms the credibility of genuine Venezuelan opposition groups, by allowing the government to paint them as secretly in league with the US.