On January 10, 2019, President Donald Trump sided with a move by the Venezuelan National Assembly to recognize their own president, Juan Guaido, as the true Venezuelan president, rather than then-president Nicolas Maduro, amid claims that his election was fraudulent.
Several other countries across South America and Europe followed suit. This move has been criticized by many left-wing political groups in the U.S. as a “coup d’etat,” or an attempt to overthrow the Venezuelan government to gain oil. After all, Venezuela does have the world’s largest oil reserves. Could this be another front to enter another war for resources? Is Venezuela going to become the new Iraq?
Not so fast.
There are many reasons why these criticisms of “U.S. Imperialism” are invalid. Firstly, the U.S. has yet to take any military action in Venezuela. No troops have been sent, no attacks have been launched and war has not been declared. The only action taken by the U.S. has been to formally and officially recognize Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela. This means that, if Trump wants to meet with the president of Venezuela, he will meet with Guaido. Whenever U.S. diplomats mention or refer to the president of Venezuela, they will be referring to Guaido, and so on. This is a purely legal decision and is closer to civil disobedience than a coup d’etat.
Second, Guaido technically is the president, under Venezuela’s own laws. In the Venezuelan constitution, under article 233, It is stated that “when the president-elect is absolutely absent before taking office, a new election shall take place […] and until the president is elected and takes office, the interim president shall be the president of the National Assembly.” The National Assembly, recognizing Maduro’s reelection as illegitimate, therefore was able to put Guaido in power in the ‘absence’ of a true democratically-elected president. While some people still (wrongfully) claim the election of Maduro was perfectly fair, the National Assembly still has the power to do this under the Venezuelan constitution.
Legal technicalities aside, it’s sometimes easy to forget how evil Maduro’s government truly is. While the U.S. enjoys a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour (which many people still think should be increased), the minimum wage in Venezuela is merely $5.47 a month. Food is so scarce that people have begun to eat their own pets. The Government’s irresponsible spending and reliance on oil created a crisis from which Venezuela may not escape for decades. And through it all, Maduro and his fellow party members can afford to live in luxury. While the people of Venezuela cheer on the Trump Administration in its efforts, left-wing political activists in the U.S. scold his actions, despite enjoying a much greater quality of life themselves.
While some may be cautious about the Trump Administration interfering in a political crisis outside the U.S., at the moment, there’s really nothing to worry about, and in fact, a lot to look forward to.