Just about two months ago, I covered Venezuela’s current affairs. What caused this was the suddenly sprouting glimmer of hope that pointed towards a change in direction in a country governed by socialists and affected more and more severely by famines and diseases. While these tragedies barely make it into German-speaking media, the legitimate election of President and opposition leader Juan Guaidó was something that could not be ignored any longer. Thus, Junge Welt, a left-wing extremist newspaper that is under surveillance by the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (German domestic intelligence agency) had to declare their point of view – and they considered what was going on an American coup d’état in Caracas.
So, what does the situation two months later look like? Did mean imperialists manage to push the bus-driver-turned-dictator away from power? Are there American troops deployed in Venezuela? No – and Vice President Pence made this clear very early: Restoring democracy would be a goal that one would try to reach through economic and diplomatic isolation.
To ease the ever-worsening situation of Venezuela’s populace, international aid convoys were sent – but instead of receiving the goods they brought and, thus, helping people who lost an average 25 lbs of weight due to the severe scarcity of food in 2017 alone, those who were waiting for the convoys to cross the border were attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets. Now, you are obviously not able to find details regarding this in junge Welt – while they raised their voices openly against the use of rubber bullets just some years ago, they are not mentioned at all in the newspaper’s ideology-driven “fact check”.
Diplomatic pressure alone is insufficient!
What is a fact, however, is that there is a major exertion of foreign influence happening. While the United States keep working on a diplomatic solution, one of Dictator Maduro’s last remaining allies brings the big guns. Why, after all, govern through law when you can do the same through the military? It would, by the way, not be the first time that Maduro hands his people the decision between votes and bullets.
Thus, it was only a question of time until the Russian allies who constitute one of the South American dictator’s few remaining columns on which his autocracy is based would deploy troops in Venezuela. While they only brought 100 soldiers last Saturday, the aircraft used allow for completely different means of combat as well – such as tanks.
All signs indicate that the domestic crisis becomes aggravated more and more, and power outages that last several days and that affect hospitals as well make it clear that a populace is being left to its own fate – which has, according to the kleptocrats in government, been chosen by the people.
Russian troops have already been deployed…
More than two months ago, I stated that this was a call to action for President Trump. Gladly, John Bolton stated that “we are not afraid to use the word Monroe Doctrine.” Yes, it makes sense for U.S. foreign policy to gather a coalition as large as possible consisting of Central American and South American countries that exert pressure together.
At the same time, a situation that sees Venezuela’s people clearly unable to help itself while innocent people die from curable diseases every single day and while torture is happening in secret prisons with Cuban support requires more than just diplomatic pressure. Just like so often, the United Nations appear unable to take the task as Russia and the People’s Republic of China veto any attempt at the UNSC to initiate an internationally supported attempt to solve the issue.
…so what are we waiting for?
Those who uphold their categorical denial of any military intervention after having been exposed to this avoidable humanitarian crisis either do not care at all or do not consider the situation serious enough yet. What is denigrated as regime change has allowed for the return of positive outcomes and the successful implementation of democracy in Japan, Central Europe and Eastern Europe.
Much to the opposite, keeping a military option alive increases the effect of diplomatic and economic sanctions imposed that would otherwise be completely insufficient. While the Cold War may have ended, Moscow and Beijing maintain their unbroken desire for a sphere of influence.
Foreign Minister Maas must be true to his words
Such a sphere must not be tolerated – neither in Europe nor in Central America or South America. Tolerating it would equal ignoring the legitimate intentions of a country’s government and populace – just because it was possible. The Venezuelan people’s intention is clear – remove the dictator. This desire is reflected in both countless demonstrations with thousands of participants and the massive migratory movement that was triggered by the dictatorship’s wrongful policies.
Those who consider the Monroe Doctrine an attempt to create American hegemony have not just been exposed to Noam Chomsky for too long – they also omit the fact that the question of how to allow for the development of better living conditions in freedom for millions of people answers itself once people are granted dignity and autonomy. What should give us hope for the coming weeks is the fact that it is the United States that represents these values like no other country in the world.
Maybe even Germany manages to take a stand for once and to play a role in helping the much-beloved system of multilateralism survive. Let’s stay real: There will not be any German support for any international coalition – but as German journalists are imprisoned and diplomats are kicked out of the country as personae non gratae, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas must be true to his words and must help stop Maduro from extending this crisis indefinitely.
Lukas Posch serves as President of the Young Transatlantic Initiative. His opinion does not necessarily reflect the Initiative’s opinion as a whole. You can find the German version of this article at our new project Transatlantic Takes.