Venezuelans Deserve a Free and Prosperous Country
“Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.”
― Benito Juárez
When considering the current situation in Venezuela, it is an excellent time to remember the most famous words of Benito Juarez, a founding father of the modern democratic republic of Mexico. Today, Venezuelans remain trapped in a lose-lose situation. While the government of dictator Nicolas Maduro crushes the rights and freedoms of individuals, the United States threatens military intervention to "resolve the situation." Both scenarios are unacceptable.
It is impossible to deny that the Maduro regime is corrupt, militaristic, and undemocratic. Needless to say, Venezuela follows a completely failed economic model. The social cost of sinking millions of Venezuelans into misery and fear for so many years is incalculable. In Venezuela today, hyperinflation– which is estimated to reach 1,000,000% this year— coexists with widespread unemployment, famine, and a government complicit in organized crime and violence without control.
Following the Cuban model to the letter, the market cost for coffee or a box of cereal is equivalent to more than a month’s salary— if one is lucky enough to secure a job or even locate products on the nation’s barren shelves. This is indisputably an abhorrent human tragedy that must end. The country that half a century ago was one of the most prosperous on the continent, today is considered one of its most impoverished and dangerous.
The country that half a century ago was one of the most prosperous on the continent, today is considered one of its most impoverished and dangerous.
For more than two decades under Chavismo rule, Venezuelans have suffered systematic repression, the gradual loss of all their freedoms, and open attacks on independent media, organized civil society, and the political opposition— whose leaders and followers have been imprisoned, exiled, or simply "disappeared."
Any remaining vestiges of the legitimacy of the Maduro government were extinguished after elections held last year, when numerous irregularities occurred and were well-documented by outside observers— and government responded to opposition protests, once again, with threats, jail and, at best, exile for their leaders. Opposition in Venezuela is a great act of courage.
The true coup was not in this opposition; instead it came when Maduro unilaterally decided to scrap the nation’s Constitution. Today, of course, very few countries recognize the legality of the regime of terror that holds power in Venezuela.
However, foreign intervention is never justified because, far from improving the situation, it can often worsen political, social, and economic complexities— as we have seen in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. That is why the insinuations and threats of Donald Trump and his security advisor John Bolton, regarding possible military intervention, are absolutely unacceptable and must be firmly rejected by the international community. In the same way, the long term Russian and Cuban interventions in the internal affairs of Venezuela must be firmly denounced. The agents of Russia and representatives of Cuba, who supposedly carry out humanitarian tasks, must be expelled from the country that they have plundered and destabilized for two decades.
However, foreign intervention is never justified because, far from improving the situation, it can often worsen political, social, and economic complexities.
In Latin America we are very aware of the very high political, social, and economic costs of the Monroe Doctrine, but at the same time Russia and Cuba promote a parallel doctrine that is equally toxic; which, from their point of view, gives them the right to export socialism to any country in the Americas. Latin Socialism is a deception, an insidious system that has failed in all its reiterations. It promotes a repeatedly failed system of organizing the economy and public affairs, and authoritarian rule that works to undermine and destroy the institution of freedoms, especially freedom of expression and open commerce.
However, over the last 100 years, this failed system has been sold in different forms in the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and, of course, under the brand of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela— where the collapse of socialism exceeds that of many other countries that have suffered its rule, and a sign of ineptitude and extreme governmental neglect.
Benito Juarez’s ideal of respect for individual rights defines a shared democratic aspiration that should unite all the countries of Latin America. It is this same spirit that today unites hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have taken to the streets to express their rightful discontent in Caracas and in many other cities around the world— where already more than 3 million Venezuelan exiles have been forced to flee. This is the spirit that we must support.
But we must not stop there. The nations of Latin America must actively collaborate in the creation of an actionable solution. Our country has a tradition of participating in, and not only being an observer in the solution of conflicts around Latin America. This is an opportunity to show once again the strength of our diplomacy. In Venezuela, dialogue must prevail, but the international community must establish specific limits, times and objectives so that the systemic long term problems of the country can be resolved.
We Mexicans have a moral obligation to support the Venezuelan people to find the solution to the serious problems they face— democratically and by their own means. In Latin America we must work so that the terrible situation in Venezuela, caused by the incredible neglectful mismanagement and corruption of Chavismo socialism, will soon reach a solution. Respect for the rights of others must be transformed into the active promotion of the rights of our Venezuelan neighbors.
For more on my views regarding the rights of the Venezuelan people and the failure of Chavismo socialism in Venezuela see my article published in the Hill in March 2019, “Branding aid for Venezuela as a US coup is dead wrong.”