May 03, 2019

TRUMP’S EFFORTS IN VENEZUELA ARE BEGINNING TO BEAR FRUIT

The battle for Venezuela rages on.

Protestors have taken to the streets to participate in Operación Libertad (Operation Liberty), a bold attempt to oust Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro through continued demonstration. But the heinous Maduro regime is holding on tight, even going as far as to run over peaceful protestors with military grade vehicles.

Thankfully, the Venezuelan people and their rightful leader President Juan Guaidó aren’t alone in this noble fight. They have a powerful ally in President Trump, who has been one of the most vocal supporters of the effort to dispose of Maduro and restore freedom to the Venezuelan people. Maduro must go, and President Trump will not stop until he does.

Considering the ongoing situation in Venezuela, it is important to look back at the disastrous socialist policies that caused the country to get to this point. Venezuela, which has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, was one of the richest countries in Latin America.

Yet, socialist policies always collide with reality at some point and nowhere has this been better illustrated than under the Maduro regime. Blatant mismanagement and corruption turned Venezuela from a wealthy country into one where people are forced to eat out of garbage cans to stay alive.

Ricardo Hausmann, a scholar at Harvard College, estimates that Venezuela’s GDP was 35 percent smaller in 2017 than 2013. What does such a dramatic drop in GDP look like? Hunger and starvation.

Data shows that the average Venezuelan lost nearly 24 pounds in 2017 due to a lack of food. Nearly 90 percent of the country lives under the poverty line, which is up from 48 percent in 2014. And a recent IMF forecast notes that inflation in the country may reach 10,000,000 percent by the end of 2019.

The economic situation is dire, to say the least.

As such, people are packing up and fleeing in mass. Colombia, an important U.S. ally in the region, is estimated to host 1,000,000 Venezuelan migrants and that number may skyrocket to 4,000,000 by 2021. Brazil is hosting an estimated 150,000 and the U.S. has at least 300,000 Venezuelans migrants who largely reside in Florida.

In addition to destroying Venezuela’s economy and causing a mass migration crisis, Maduro has continually worked to undermine U.S. interests in Latin America. Maduro isn’t some benign politician, he’s a savvy dictator who is more than willing to let the Venezuelan people suffer while he sells out to the highest bidder.

It is no surprise that he’s backed by a number of nefarious regimes including China, Russia, Iran, and Cuba. These powers seek to meddle in America’s backyard by propping up a puppet they know will do their bidding. Maduro is happy to do so as long as he and his cronies get to cash out.

Worse, Maduro has allowed the radical Islamist group Hezbollah to set up shop in Venezuela. Hezbollah is the same terrorist organization who floods American streets with illegal drugs and is responsible for killing hundreds of U.S. soldiers.

Thankfully, President Trump recognized that the American policy of appeasement towards Maduro had gone on long enough. Since deciding to confront Maduro, the president’s efforts are starting to bear fruit.

To start, the Trump administration has slapped stringent sanctions on the Maduro regime and its corrupt officials. Sanctions have also been applied to Venezuela’s oil conglomerates, which continue to line the pocket of regime officials. State companies shouldn’t be piggy banks that dole out goodies to the favored class.

More importantly, the president has helped to provide moral clarity to the situation. President Trump has repeatedly condemned Maduro by name and amplified the plight of the Venezuelan people across the globe. As a result, 65 countries now recognize Guaidó to be the legitimate leader of the Venezuelan people.

That’s a win not only for the president’s strategy but also for the brave Venezuelan protestors who are standing up for democracy. Don’t forget: President Trump has said that all options are still on the table. If Maduro were smart, he’d heed the president’s call to move aside.

To be sure, removing Maduro will be tough. But we as Americans cannot give up hope for those who fight for freedom and liberal values. Even if Operación Libertad is unsuccessful, America will continue to support Venezuela’s democratically elected leader.

Maduro’s days are numbered.

-- Alex Titus 

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