Last week President Obama declared Venezuela a threat to United States national security, going so far as to characterize the country (operating under a duly elected President and legislature) a national emergency. He did so with the full knowledge that the statement is untrue. Rather, the declaration was made to satisfy United States legal requirements for issuing sanctions against individual Venezuelan leaders. What does this behavior say about the state of affairs in Washington as regards Venezuela? Nothing good.
We at the Quixote Center affirm our opposition to the Obama administration's efforts to isolate and destabilize the elected government of Venezuela. We do this with the full knowledge that Venezuela is experiencing a dramatic political battle in the wake of President Chavez's death two years ago. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, has faced off with an increasingly energized opposition since assuming office, with both sides appearing to engage in violence in the streets.
Our condemnation of President Obama's actions is based on our long-held position in support of maintaining democratically elected governments, even those considered embattled. By issuing sanctions against the Venezuelan government, the Obama administration harms regional progress and security, and provides an easy bogeyman for Venezuelan politicians who may seek a distraction from home-grown problems.
President Maduro has repeatedly accused the United States of supporting efforts to organize a coup in Venezuela. The Obama administration has repeatedly denied support for coup plots as ridiculous, but history tells us that these concerns are valid and ought to be brought out into the light for a true examination. If the United States is providing financial or moral support for an illegal change of administration, this support must end immediately because it would be both illegal and harmful to global security and cooperation.