“Venezuela’s case is clear.”
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, on Wednesday sought to reality-check Americans who are wringing their hands over the Trump administration’s intervention in Venezuela.
Since Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government cracked down Tuesday on a popular uprising lead by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the social justice left has largely remained silent or complained about U.S. interventionism. But Crenshaw wasn’t having it.
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While he acknowledged that supporting regime change can be tricky, “Venezuela’s case is clear,” he said. The capitalism-loving combat veteran who grew up in South America pointed out that Maduro is a “relentless dictator” who has “destroyed” the country, whereas Guaidó is the head of the democratically elected National Assembly.
There is no guidebook for when we should support change in power in another country.
But Venezuela’s case is clear. Maduro, a relentless dictator, has destroyed Venezuela. @JGuaido leads the only democratically elected body.
We should support this change for a freer #Venezuela.
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) May 1, 2019
Along with dozens of other states, the Trump administration backed Guaidó after he declared himself acting president in January. The United States in March cut diplomatic ties with Venezuela and stepped up sanctions by targeting the country’s oil industry.
On Tuesday, the president joined a number of other Cabinet members in affirming the U.S. position, tweeting: “The United States stands with the People of Venezuela and their Freedom.”
I am monitoring the situation in Venezuela very closely. The United States stands with the People of Venezuela and their Freedom!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2019
Cue the #resistance.
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., appeared Tuesday on MSNBC to chastise Vice President Mike Pence for encouraging the anti-government protestors in Venezuela. According to Khannaa, Pence was “inciting violence” when what was really needed was “diplomacy and restraint.”
The Vice President has no place inciting violence in Venezuela. We cannot allow ourselves to contribute toward a civil war abroad. Instead, this is the moment for diplomacy and restraint. pic.twitter.com/A4ZPTPbUDX
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) April 30, 2019
In a less direct response, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted that the United States has for “far too long” favored “militarism over diplomacy.” He shared a recent article in The Nation that cheered his progressive wing of the Democratic Party for challenging the U.S. foreign policy establishment.
For far too long, the United States has basically had a one-party foreign policy that favors militarism over diplomacy. Thanks to the hard work of many progressives, working on Yemen and other issues, that is finally changing. https://t.co/yw9xSYdXjq
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) April 30, 2019
Among those who got a shout-out in the article was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. Although she chose to say nothing about the violence in Venezuela Tuesday, she has made her position clear in the past.
Asked at a March press conference to denounce Maduro, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declined, saying Venezuela is a “complex issue.” Instead, she declared her blanket opposition to U.S. foreign entanglements, adding that she especially distrusts President Donald Trump on Venezuela.
“I am generally opposed to U.S. interventionism as a principle, but particularly under this administration and under his leadership,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I think it’s a profound mistake.”
Another honorable mention in The Nation was Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who also appeared to feel she had said enough on the matter.
At a congressional hearing in February, Omar grilled Elliot Abrams, Trump’s special envoy to Venezuela, about his controversial Reagan-era work to undermine communism in Latin America, including in the Iran-Contra affair.
While she devoted most of her time to recounting Abrams’ past alleged sins, she did ask him a number of tendentious questions, including: Would you “support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if you believed they were serving U.S. interests, as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua?”
The Nation has been far from alone in its Venezuela coverage. The Intercept, a left-wing news website that has reliably repeated the Maduro government’s claims that Trump is plotting its overthrow.
In a February article, Mark Weisbrot defended the Maduro regime and said the Trump administration’s sanctions against Venezuela were mostly responsible for its economic collapse, even though the economy had already shrunk by half since Maduro came to power in 2013.
On Tuesday, Weisbrot retweeted Khanna’s post without comment.
In pushing back on the left-wing narrative, Crenshaw, as usual, spoke not just for himself but for much of the right. His tweet quickly went viral.
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