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US is involved with Venezuela for the wrong reasons

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           Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. We’re supposed to learn from our mistakes, but for evidence of how rarely our leaders actually do so, look no further than the current debacle in Venezuela.

           Venezuela is in collapse. Their kleptocratic government led by dictator and Saddam Hussein impersonator, Nicolas Maduro, has stolen from the people, failed to provide them with jobs and food and seized a second term by rigging the election in his favor. In January, it all came to a head when the National Assembly met and its elected leader, the relatively unknown Juan Guaido, citing a clause in their constitution, proclaimed himself to be Venezuela’s legitimate president.

Shortly after, the Administration of President Donald Trump announced that it would recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s “Interim President”. Other nations, including Canada and Venezuela’s South American neighbors, followed Trump’s lead. At the time of this publication, Venezuela is being led by two competing presidents.

But that isn’t the issue. While I support Guaido and his challenge to Maduro, it is clear that the United States should stay out of it, not out of a Trumpian “America First” idea, but because American involvement will not bring Venezuela the freedom and self-government they are trying to win back now.

America has a checkered history in Latin America, dating back to the Monroe Doctrine and countless conceivable interventions in between. The U.S. has toppled democratic regimes in favor of American corporate interests (United Fruit and Guatemala, 1954), lied about wars of independence (Cuba and the Spanish-American War, 1895) and produced a revolution, creating an entirely new state in order to open up Western trade routes (Panama Canal and Colombia 1903). America has used and abused Latin America for their own personal gain, and this is no different.

The United States has had negative relations with the Venezuelan government since the anti-American regime of Hugo Chavez took power in 1999. Maduro, Chavez’s undemocratically chosen successor, has continued this hostile American policy. That brings us to the main reason for the United States wanting to cozy up to a Maduro opponent in case he ends up taking power: money, mainly oil money.

Venezuela, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has the world’s largest reserves of oil. And in case you’re unaware, oil has pretty much been the driving factor behind our involvement in the Middle East dating back to the end of World War II. In the name of black gold we’ve worked with tyrants like the House of Saud in Arabia, turned a blind eye to issues within allied Turkey and installed dictators of our own like the Shah of Iran. And for what? Did we benefit the people there? Did we “make the world safe for democracy”? Did we purge it of evil? Or did we just create a countless stream of enemies, as generation after generation have grown up in both South America and the Middle East wary and fearful of Yankee imperialism.

And like a moth to a flame, Goldman Sachs has been profiting off of the misery of the Venezuelan people by buying and selling oil reserves, capitalizing on, nay, exploiting a failed state and its people for the personal gain of those who already have too much.

We cannot pretend to heroes of democracy here. We jump into action in the name of freedom and democracy, but only when it benefits us in the end. Why not help the brutalized Rohingya as they face genocide in Myanmar? Where is the support for the Uyghurs being held in concentration camps within Chinese East Turkestan? What of our consummate allies in the Kurds, perpetually stateless and without major backing? How about Catalonia? National self-determination and making the world safe for democracy are supposed to go hand in hand. Or are we just playing the same old games we have since the dawn of civilization? That’s fine with me, but just don’t pretend to be doing it for the greater good.

If we want what’s best for Venezuela, we will allow their people to dictate their future, both in the fight against Maduro and in whatever may proceed that fight. The time has come for us to stop trying to police the rest of the world or, at the very least, to do so for the right reasons.

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