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Where Are Democratic 2020 Hopefuls on the Trump-Backed Coup Attempt in Venezuela?
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=50031"><span class="small">Marco Cartolano, In These Times</span></a>   
Sunday, 27 January 2019 15:10

Cartolano writes: "Trump called Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government 'illegitimate' two weeks after Maduro's inauguration for a second term. The declaration came after Guaidó swore himself in as president with the support of several right-wing governments in Latin America."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. (photo: Getty Images)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. (photo: Getty Images)

Where Are Democratic 2020 Hopefuls on the Trump-Backed Coup Attempt in Venezuela?

By Marco Cartolano, In These Times

27 January 19

Of the major Democrats or progressives who have declared–or are expected to–only Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders have made statements. We will update the story if others speak out. The silence of potential challengers to Trump is especially noteworthy since the president has the authority to commit troops on the ground as commander in chief.

pdate: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), widely expected to seek the Democratic nomination, released the following statement Thursday:

The Maduro government in Venezuela has been waging a violent crackdown on Venezuelan civil society, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly and was re-elected last year in an election that many observers said was fraudulent. Further, the economy is a disaster and millions are migrating.
The United States should support the rule of law, fair elections and self-determination for the Venezuelan people. We must condemn the use of violence against unarmed protesters and the suppression of dissent. However, we must learn the lessons of the past and not be in the business of regime change or supporting coups – as we have in Chile, Guatemala, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. The United States has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries; we must not go down that road again.

Update: Presidential candidate and congresswoman from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard, declared Thursday on Twitter, “The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don't want other countries to choose our leaders–so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.”

Earlier: Every major Democrat or progressive who has declared—or is expected to declare—his or her candidacy for U.S. president has been silent in the wake of Wednesday’s announcement that President Donald Trump will recognize Venezuela’s National Assembly president Juan Guaidó as the interim president.

In These Times requested comment from Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.)—but received no response. An email sent to Beto O’Rourke, a former Representative of Texas, bounced. Not a single top 2020 presidential hopeful on the Democrat side has released a statement—or even tweeted—about the development.

Trump called Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government “illegitimate” two weeks after Maduro’s inauguration for a second term. The declaration came after Guaidó swore himself in as president with the support of several right-wing governments in Latin America. The Lima Group, a coalition of mostly conservative-led Latin American countries, along with Canada, released a statement on January 4 denying the legitimacy of Venezuela’s May 2018 presidential election while recognizing the National Assembly as “a democratically elected constitutional body.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has participated in meetings with representatives of the Lima Group through video conference at least since last May. The developments, which are moving rapidly, are being denounced by some as a coup attempt.

Brazil, one of the group’s member nations, has ramped up its opposition to Maduro after far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was inaugurated at the start of January. Bolsonaro met with exiled Venezuelan opposition leaders and threatened Maduro that he would do “everything for democracy to be re-established.”

In spite of the Assembly’s support from right-wing governments, several Democratic legislators joined Trump in denouncing Maduro’s presidency. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) released a statement praising Trump for “appropriately” recognizing Guaidó, and several House Democrats announced in a video that they will introduce legislation to “support the people of Venezuela and hold the illegitimate President accountable for the crisis he created.” On Thursday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called recognizing Guaido, “an appropriate step.”

So far, Representatives Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have expressed opposition to Trump’s declaration. On Wednesday, Khanna accused  the Trump administration of hypocrisy for attacking Maduro while continuing their support for the Saudi Arabian government. While Khanna criticized Maduro’s policies, he also warned that, “crippling sanctions or pushing for regime change will only make the situation worse.”

Omar shared Khanna’s tweet on Wednesday from her official congressional account and called for the universal application of human rights, “not just when it’s politically convenient.”

On Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez retweeted a response to Durbin from Khanna that reiterated his opposition to both his regime change and Trump’s sanctions while supporting “Uruguay, Mexico, & (sic.) the Vatican's efforts for a negotiated settlement.”

The silence of potential challengers to Trump is especially noteworthy since the president has the authority to commit troops on the ground as commander in chief. It remains unclear if any of the candidates are willing to challenge Trump's move or oppose a series of economic sanctions against Venezuela that cut off Venezuela from most international financial markets.  

The Trump administration’s move follows bipartisan U.S. efforts to oppose Venezuela’s government since it was first elected in 1998 ago by the Bolivarian socialist movement. The Obama administration funded some groups critical of the Venezuelan government, issued a 2015 executive order declaring Venezuelan crackdowns on protestors an “extraordinary threat” to U.S. national security, and implemented sanctions against seven Venezuelan government officials. Trump built on Obama’s sanctions to further block Venezuelan involvement in financial markets in 2017, despite warnings this would worsen the food and medicine supply in Venezuela—and prevent the country from achieving economic recovery.

Democratic 2020 hopefuls’ silence on Venezuela contrasts with their willingness to discuss other interventions: Senator Bernie Sanders has criticized U.S. military spending and led the Senate’s push to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen, and some have called for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 27 January 2019 15:53


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+16 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-01-27 15:45
This is really disgraceful. Sanders statement is only an ignorant repeat of US corporate media which is still just a repeat of the CIA.

In fact it was the Venezuelan supreme court which dissolved the National Assembly in strict accordance with the constitution. Maduro's election was free and far in ways that far exceed US elections. There have been about 25 national elections since Chavez first won in 1998. In all, the Chavez/Maduro party and candidates have won by large margins.

The National Assembly is dominated by Venezuela's corporate class with ties to the US and Spain. It is almost entirely "white" or European while the people of Venezuela are mixed races, including Native Americans and Afro-Venezuelan s. What is happening in Venezuela is that the white corporate class is re-asserting its control over the nation and its oil resources on behalf of their sponsors in the US. Sanders needs to know this.
+12 # DongiC 2019-01-27 16:14
Here we go again. Getting ready to throw our weight around in Central and South America. We didn't care for Chavez in Venezuela and we don't like his successor Maduro either. We are sending Elliot Abrams to help out in Venezuela. He went to jail during the IranContra crisis during the Regan years. For lieing to Congress. What with Bolton and Pompeio and, now, Abrams, the odds are high on a military intervention. America has been a bully in the affairs of Latin America during much of the 20th century. Under the biggest bully of all, Donald Trump, expect America to be involved south of the border once again. If the Russians and Chinese follow through on their support of Maduro, expect another clash between rival empires of east and west. So sad, so stupid.
+8 # chapdrum 2019-01-27 19:56
Predictably silent.
But...there were "scathing" words today from Kamala Harris, who not only didn't weigh in on Venezuela (candidates could give us an indication of their thinking on foreign affairs), nor use Trump's name, but made a a resounding declamation that "we are better than this."
Yeah, that'll cut it.
+2 # johnescher 2019-01-28 05:37
The new class of progressives has to deal-- immediately-- with the tough issues such as this and whether NATO is any good. And the bloated security and military apparatus of the United States. And the increased likelihood of global war if we cut ties with our true and tried allies. And all environmental issues related to the fossil industries vs. green enlightenment such as is being better pursued in Germany and elsewhere.
+10 # davehaze 2019-01-28 09:32
Perhaps Sanders felt that it was first mandatory to repeat the ignorant Us corporate media in order to criticize our government coup against Venezuela. Makes it more difficult for the Democrats to call him a Maduro puppet and commie lover.
I am not surprised that the Democratic party backs Trump on this. Obama and Clinton supported the Honduran coup and we know how well that turned out.
If the Democratic party hates Trump so much why support his military spending increases and intervention throughout the world? All Democratic senators voted for Trump's insane increase in Pentagon spending last year and increase greater than what Russia spends in toto. Only Saunders and six Republicans voted against.

So I am for giving Saunders some slack for now.
+1 # Mystic Hare 2019-01-28 17:49
I was disappointed that the article only mentioned Tulsi Gabbard in passing, here is her position:

"The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don't want other countries to choose our leaders-- so we have to stop trying to choose theirs."

So simple, yet so elusive a concept...
+2 # Mystic Hare 2019-01-28 17:54
I stand corrected - I am so used to seeing Tulsi surrounded by silence I missed the update by the time I got around to posting this. Sorry Marco!
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-01-29 08:01
Just as important as the subject of this article is "where are the 2020 democratic hopefuls on healthcare." There's a very interesting/dep ressing article now on Politico that says these hopefuls have at least 8 different plans for replacing Obamacare. Only Sanders is standing for Medicare for All. The rest have much less ambitious plans which will still leave private for-profit healthcare corporations in charge and will still exclude millions from healthcare.

Democrats need to get their act together on healthcare. They need to have a really deep discussion within the party in order to arrive as a single plan for replacing Obamacare. They need to be ready to act immediately one a democratic president is sworn in as president in Jan. 2021. It will take two years to develop a plan that all democrats will endorse.

I remember well that in 2008 when Obama was elected very few people in the US understoon "universal single payer." That's why M. Moore made his very good movie. Today about half of Americans support "universal single payer." So it took 10 years to get majority support.

Now there is NO understanding of how to do it and how to pay for it. It could take another 10 or 20 years to develop the means to achieving universal single payer. To me, this is the issue Nancy Pelosi should be focusing on, not a pissing match with the polecat in the white house. She could be getting the party ready for Jan. 2021.
0 # Mystic Hare 2019-01-29 19:02
Well, at least one other candidate is advocating a universally accessible "public option", but predictably Politico did not include Tulsi's views, having already branded her a "maverick that bucks the party orthodoxy" in an earlier article announcing her candidacy:

"Our present healthcare system is organized by and for the benefit of big insurance and pharmaceutical companies and not the American people. This must change.

While the Affordable Care Act was a step towards insuring roughly 20 million Americans, many issues remain with the Affordable Care Act, including escalating costs and high copayments/dedu ctibles. Most importantly, 27 million Americans are still uninsured. All Americans should have access to affordable healthcare through Medicare or a public option. We must ensure universal healthcare and empower the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to bring down the price of prescription drugs."