For an American president who set his face against interfering in other countries to bring about regime change, Donald Trump’s actions in Venezuela mark a significant departure. He has withdrawn Washington’s recognition of the government of Nicolas Maduro and thrown the weight of the U.S. behind the opposition leader Juan Guaido.
The left, who revered Maduro’s mentor Hugo Chávez, has predictably denounced this as a U.S.-backed coup. But Trump is not acting in isolation. Other Latin American countries, bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis triggered by Maduro’s mishandling of the economy, want him out. So, too, do many European Union countries, including Britain, who have joined Trump in demanding fresh elections — this time, unlike last, free and fair.
Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, has said if there are no new elections announced by next week, the U.K. will recognize Guaido as interim president “to take forward the political process towards democracy.” But while it is all well and good to denounce Maduro for presiding over an economic and humanitarian catastrophe, the Americans and their allies need to be prepared for what might happen next.
Washington wants Latin American countries like Brazil to spearhead a multilateral diplomatic approach to squeeze Maduro. But the people of Venezuela are being invited to rise up against a government which still controls the security forces, with all the consequences that could entail.
Trump says he is on the side of democracy and the people of Venezuela. But if Maduro refuses to step aside, is the president ready to demonstrate that support with more than words?
From an editorial in the Telegraph (United Kingdom)