Venezuela’s Hunger Games
President Maduro, clinging desperately to power, uses humanitarian aid
as a weapon against his own people.
The Venezuelan political opposition and its many foreign supporters,
the United States first among them, gambled that getting crucial
humanitarian aid into the country would undermine military support for
Nicolás Maduro and finally pry him out of the presidential palace.
Alas, the first round failed recently. Despite some reported
defections, the army blocked the aid at border crossings, often with
The easy part is to identify approaches best avoided. President Trump
claims he has a Plan B, “and C, and D, and E, and F” to evict Mr.
Maduro, but the only one he has raised is military intervention. His
hawkish lieutenants at the White House may support that, but it is a
dangerous idea opposed by most of the 50 countries that have joined the
United States in recognizing the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as the
interim president of Venezuela. Whatever Venezuelan soldiers may think
of Mr. Maduro, the deplorable history of United States interventions in
the Americas could well unite them — and many Venezuelans — against
More sanctions are another possibility. But the United States imposed
new sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company in January,
further reducing what little remains of the country’s oil income.
Prolonged and expanded sanctions, while achieving the goal of depriving
the government of cash, would also impose more suffering on a
population already on the brink, with desperate shortages of food and
medicine and runaway inflation.
And a dictator who has already destroyed his country — and has the
support of Russia and China — is not one who gives a fig for the
suffering of his people, a sizable portion of whom still harbor an
attachment to the “Bolivarian socialist” claptrap of his predecessor
and mentor, Hugo Chávez.
RS Wood <firstname.lastname@example.org>