Today, President Donald Trump along with both Democratic and Republican members of Congress, including Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), officially endorsed and recognized an unelected Venezuelan opposition party as the legitimate government of Venezuela.
Brand New Congress is not in the business of determining the governments of other nations. This is not a commentary on the government of Venezuela or an endorsement of any politicians or political parties but rather a response to the undemocratic process of the United States of America, a nation with a history of propping up dictators in Latin America for its own economic benefit, making decisions on the governments of other nations as our government is still in a prolonged shutdown.
In this statement, we aim to apply our foreign policy perspective specifically to how the U.S. is interacting with Venezuela. It is the right of all people both in the U.S. and abroad to determine their own democratic system dedicated to human rights, justice for all, and equitable opportunity. Imperialism and unilateral world domination by any one nation is a threat to democratic self-determination, and it is far past time the U.S. stop acting as that threat.
There is no question that recent elections in Venezuela have been controversial, just as U.S. elections have been. Currently, the U.S. has a President who lost the popular vote by 2.87 million votes. The ruling party in the upper chamber of Congress received less than 40% of the vote in the most recent election. In multiple states, the ruling party of one or both chambers of the state legislature lost the popular vote statewide but maintained power due to gerrymandering. To this day, tens of millions of Americans are denied the right to vote through discriminatory practices such as prison disenfranchisement, voter identification laws, and voter purges. Studies show that such suppression influenced the outcome of major elections, including the most recent presidential election, which was the first in modern American history where the nation lacked the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.
At the moment, the U.S. government is being held hostage by a popular vote-losing President and Senate Majority who are willing to endanger the livelihood of 800,000 federal employees for the sake of a racist border wall designed to further embolden a vocal minority who oppose the demographic change the U.S. is undergoing. For decades, leaders of both parties have proven incapable of rectifying humanitarian crises of our own nation, whether it be the rejection of Syrian refugees or the incarceration of asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, which has resulted in several deaths.
With this in mind, it is stunningly hypocritical for the U.S., and especially individuals who have been critical of Russian interference in U.S. elections, to validate a party that did not run in the election as the only legitimate government of a sovereign nation. Said sovereign nation just so happens to have the largest proven oil reserves in the world, a factor that sadly influences U.S. foreign policy to this day. Regardless of what one thinks about any political party or politicians of Venezuela, it is not the place of the U.S. to be deciding which political parties and politicians are or are not legitimate. Concerns expressed by politicians of both U.S. parties would be more believable is said politicians didn’t actively support dictatorships in nations that just so happen to be aligned with the economic interests of the U.S. elite.
We must also take into account the U.S. government’s disturbing history of interfering in Latin American politics to prop up dictators who are friendly to America’s economic agenda. We are currently witnessing wealthy and powerful Americans including the President and the CEOs of Apple and Microsoft working with and supporting the dictatorship of Jair Bolsonaro, whose agenda includes the genocide of indigenous people, increased criminalization of Afro-Brazilians, fully legalizing gender inequality, and targeting the LGBTQ community.
In a time where fascism is spreading throughout the globe, we should be working to rectify the historic wrongs committed by the U.S. government rather than continue in the disastrous tradition of undemocratic regime change.
We need neutral actors who are uninterested in the economic outcome of elections for their own benefit to oversee and support a real democratic process.
It is up to the Venezuelan people and the Venezuelan people alone to elect a government that will stand up for them and not the interests of only the wealthy and powerful. Declaring an opposition party that did not run a candidate in the election as the legitimate government violates the basic principles of democracy. Irrespective of the current Venezuelan leadership, we must unequivocally demand that the President and politicians of both parties stop treating the sovereignty of other nations based upon the economic interests of the U.S. elite and instead embrace a foreign policy that encourages democratic self-determination in which the people can elect a government dedicated to human rights, justice for all, and equitable opportunity.
If the U.S. is truly in the business of establishing democracy, we must first look inwards and fix our discriminatory and suppressive electoral system, a system where two of the past three presidents first won the presidency despite losing the popular vote; a system where the ruling party in the upper chamber of Congress can lose the popular vote by 20 points but still maintain a majority; a system where tens of millions of Americans, disproportionately of marginalized identities, are denied their right to vote; a system that is still fundamentally rooted in a scheme to ensure slave states maintain power. It is time U.S. politicians take accountability for what is going on in the U.S., from the entirely preventable humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border to the prolonged government shutdown over a racist wall, and take action for the American people rather than hypocritically meddling in the political and electoral affairs of sovereign nations.
Edits added as of 1/24/2019 for clarification and expansion.