Last week President Donald Trump refused to rule out the possibility of US military action in Venezuela when questioned on the topic. The President did this not long after distancing himself from the current president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, by recognizing Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate interim president.

The actions of the Trump administration are not surprising considering the conditions many within the country have come to live in. Most live below the poverty line and struggle to afford food, shelter and basic needs.

Although there was an election in May of 2018 that Maduro won, many independent observers, including the US, believe the election was fraudulent. And considering Maduro’s increasing authoritarian crackdowns it wouldn’t be unlikely. The US isn’t alone in its support of Juan Guaido, Brazil, Canada and a variety of other countries have also expressed their support and recognition of his position.

Venezuela has undergone an incredible transformation in the last seven years. Initially, when Maduro’s party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, won on the 19th of April 2013, he promised sweeping socialist reforms that would see the countries high crime rate and high inflation rate go down.

Unfortunately, this didn’t happen, as with most socialist reforms, the country appeared to be doing well initially and Maduro was praised by the likes of Jeremy Corbyn (leader of the Labor Party in the UK) and Bernie Sanders in the US.

However, the honeymoon period didn’t last long, and his reforms directly contributed to the rise in hyperinflation and increased crime rate, both of which he claimed he’d bring down. Food shortages have led to a nationwide decrease in the average weight of a Venezuelan citizen and turmoil has engulfed the country, making Maduro even more reliant on the military to stay in power. 

Maduro, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and their policies can and should be held responsible for the increasingly tumultuous and degrading situation in Venezuela as they’ve directly contributed to it. Although its highly unlikely the US military will become involved in the situation in Venezuela, it’s important to not take any cards off the table, doing so would only reflect weakness and uncertainty.

Trump must remain firm in his resolve and show Maduro, as well as the world, that the US will do what’s necessary to protect people from human rights abuses and increasing authoritarianism. However, some of the statements and actions Trump and his administration have made have been condemned by China and Russia, with the latter accusing the US of wanting a coup d’état.

In the coming weeks and months its likely more countries will recognise Guaido as the legitimate interim president if the situation doesn’t get better and an election isn’t called. Should Maduro only respond with force and condemnations, as he’s done so already, the violence will continue and most likely get worse, leaving the UN, US and other concerned countries with few options.

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