Why Doesn’t Trump Turn Off Maduro’s Oxygen Hose?

Jan. 25, 2019
by Bob Adelmann

A week ago this writer suggested in this space that President Trump was likely to hasten the greatly desired departure of Maduro from his usurped presidency of Venezuela. He apologized for suggesting that Maduro would likely remain in power for as long as he wished:

This writer is happy to declare that his prediction about Maduro’s longevity appears to be dead wrong. Washington has just issued credible threats that it will turn off Maduro’s cash flow by prohibiting exports of crude from his state-owned PdVSA oil company to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

He was excited to learn that the White House was going to make a public statement about it on Wednesday. He was greatly disappointed. Instead it was about Trump’s support for the man likely to replace Maduro, with nothing said about turning off his oil export spigot:

Today, I am officially recognizing the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela.  In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant….

I will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy. 

It’s going to take more than words to oust the Marxist dictator. As Guaido himself said, “It needs to be the people, the military, and the international community [to] lead us to take over.”

The people have already responded, with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators (reminiscent of those in 2017) protesting Maduro’s illegitimate presidency on Wednesday. The international community, represented by the Organization of American States (OAS), is holding an emergency meeting on Thursday to consider its role. And there is some evidence that the military support of Maduro may be fraying around the edges.


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The support from Maduro’s military is slowly diminishing in light of his country’s economic decline. Its military installations’ infrastructures are steadily decaying due to lack of funds to keep them in good repair. Military salaries buy almost nothing thanks to Maduro’s runaway inflation. More than 4,000 officers deserted their posts last year. And legislators from the National Assembly (the country’s legitimate legislative body) are meeting with military officials who have expressed eagerness for a change at the top.

And there was an attack on a Caracas military outpost by two dozen National Guard officers on Monday that gave hope that an insurrection by the military might grow into a major uprising.

But Maduro has been willing to use every means available to keep himself and his dictatorship in place. As Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported: “The Venezuelan government has brutally cracked down on members of the military accused of plotting against it. Not only are intelligence agents detaining and torturing members of the military, in some cases they are also going after their families or other civilians when they can’t find the suspects.”

And not just the military, either. HRW said that more than 12,800 civilians have been arrested for opposing his dictatorship since 2014, with many of them being tortured before being killed.

And Maduro has influential friends who have been supporting and financing his regime: China, Russia, Cuba, Turkey, and Syria, to name a few. And they are telling Trump to keep his hands off Venezuela. China has provided Maduro with an estimated $65 billion in loans, cash, and investment, while Russia has added substantial financial support as well. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Russian journal International Affairs that U.S. military intervention “would be a catastrophic scenario that would shake the foundations of the development model which we see in Latin America.”

He added: “Venezuela is friendly to us and is our strategic partner. We have supported them and will support them.”

Surely the president isn’t intimidated by these threats. Perhaps his attention has been focused elsewhere (the wall, the shutdown, Pelosi, etc.). Surely the president can inform big oil that their Gulf Coast refineries will no longer accept exports from Maduro’s PdVSA oil company and to make other arrangements. Surely such a move would pass Constitutional muster under Article II, Section 2: “He may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices…” including potential threats from neighboring states posed by dictators like Maduro, and then act accordingly.

Trump has already applied various sanctions on criminals in Maduro’s government and has limited Wall Street from dealing in Venezuelan debt securities. And he has indirectly invoked the Monroe Doctrine concerning Venezuela.

Momentum is on Trump’s side. Maduro’s days are numbered. He should pull the plug on this thug and hasten the end of those days.

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An Ivy League graduate and former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at badelmann@thenewamerican.com.

Sources:

The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor: Maduro’s Second Six-Year Term Won’t Last Six Months

Statement from President Donald Trump on Venezuela

Reuters: Caracas Spring? Not so fast, Venezuela's armed forces say

NBC News: Russia warns U.S. against military intervention in Venezuela

AP News: Maduro faces off with US over Venezuela rival’s power claim

Background on the Monroe Doctrine

VOA News: Trump Says He Is Considering Military Action in Venezuela

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