Foreign Policy Digital

U.S. Intervention Could Be Maduro’s Lifeline

Attempts at regime change have backfired on Washington before.

Once one of Latin America’s longest-running democracies and the country with the largest proven crude oil reserves in the world, Venezuela has been driven to the brink of collapse by years of economic mismanagement, rampant corruption, and mounting authoritarianism by President Nicolás Maduro’s government.

Starvation and malnutrition are now widespread. Years of recklessly printing money have rendered Venezuela’s currency practically worthless. Hyperinflation reached 1.3 million percent last year and could reach 10 million percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. More than 3 million Venezuelans have already fled the country in Latin America’s largest-ever refugee exodus, sparking humanitarian crises in neighboring states. On Jan. 23, U.S. President Donald Trump declared that “all options are on the table” if Maduro used force to put down the protests that have swept the country in the last few weeks.

But the prospects for have followed the United States’ lead and recognized the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president, there are good reasons to be wary of Washington’s latest moves. The U.S. history of attempted regime change in the region and Trump’s loose language are both working against an opposition that faces a still formidable foe in Maduro’s regime.

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