Violence broke out recently at the Venezuelan border with Colombia as opposition supporters tried to force through humanitarian aid against the orders of Maduro enforced by security forces. The Venezuelan military fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters and civilians who tried to receive the aid and chanted “freedom” while waving flags.
The caravan of humanitarian aid was sent off from Cucuta, Colombia, by Juan Guaido, the president of the National Assembly who received widespread international support, including from the US and President Trump, when he declared himself the newly elected and legitimate president of Venezuela. While most major nations have recognized him and rescinded recognition from Maduro, Russia and other Venezuelan allies continue to support the collapsing and militaristic socialist regime.
The caravan is widely understood by both Maduro and the opposition to, in addition to having the goal of providing aid, be a deliberate challenge to the legitimacy and capability of the regime. Maduro cannot let the aid in without admitting his people need it; however, the forceful defense of the border also plays into the hands of the opposition.
The Venezuelan socialist regime, which came to power democratically, has spiraled into increasingly violent repression as widespread unrest reveals a nation-wide inability to supply the people with basic needs. Some Venezuelans feel that the government has ‘declared war’ against its own people, confiscating guns and arming the security forces and pro-government gangs while doing nothing to solve corruption and starvation-level food shortages.
Despite this, Maduro continues to have some public support, as demonstrated by a rally of thousands of people that took place in response to recent events, opposing US intervention and demanding the end of crippling sanctions. The fears of Maduro and his supporters about imperialism have solid grounding: unfortunately, in an apparent about-face from his campaign promises, President Trump has increasingly taken to staffing the White House with neoconservative warmongers like John Bolton and Elliot Abrams, the latter of whom is apparently taking a leading role in policy on Venezuela.
President Trump would perhaps do best to learn from Maduro’s strong defense of his country’s sovereignty in addressing illegal immigration in the US, and remain true to his campaign promises of non-interventionism and a sensible and humane foreign policy which helped earn him his victory and the support of millions of Americans. The US should be securing its own borders, not violating another nation’s, and the President should allow the unsustainable system of Venezuelan socialism to collapse on its own rather than risk a repeat of the failures of each act of American interventionism; in addition to thus ensuring that the opposition that rebuilds its own country will be as organic and capable as possible.