A recent op-ed run by the New York Times, coming from a history professor at the University of Madison, Wisconsin argues for not intervening in the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. While I do agree with some of the points Mr. Iber made, I think that he is lacking context in his overall argument. His main points for us not stepping in are a.) that the United States has had a long and terrible history with intervening in the affairs of Latin America (which I agree with by the way) and b.) the Trump administration is not equipped to handle this and doesn’t have their best interest in mind (namely that we want their oil). While I do agree that the United States has committed illegal acts in the past by overthrowing democratically elected leaders and influencing elections in Latin America (and the entire world for that matter, take Iran for example), I believe the situation in Venezuela is fundamentally different. I say this because the majority of Venezuelans want and need our help. Although polls aren’t able to be conducted on this on a larger scale, extensive interviews and even “live aid concerts” have demonstrated support for an intervention. The type of intervention desired however is a little more murky. Moreover, in a more indirect show of how terrible conditions are, emigration from Venezuela to the United States has skyrocketed in the past couple weeks
I think we can all agree that we should do our best to keep troops out of Venezuela or neighboring countries. As standard procedure, we should make diplomatic efforts (i.e. sending aid such as food, doctors, water, etc.). The thing is, not only has the U.S. already attempted this, but also several organizations and individuals, most notably Richard Branson, with little success. These efforts have backfired immensely as Maduro literally set fire to these shipments and shut off the border. Shocking images and videos of Venezuelans attempting to salvage aid from literal burning cargo trucks broke the world’s heart (one such picture is featured on this post). On this note, I think we can all agree that some form of intervention is needed; whether or not you agree with militarily is perfectly understandable but something must be done. Again, we should do our utmost to solve things diplomatically but if their ex-leader continues to commit atrocious acts such as burning aid intended to help literally starving people, it is my opinion that we must keep all options on the table.
By now, I think we all can agree that President Trump is not the most intelligent person and that his moral compass is rather backwards. Even if you agree with his economic policies, everyone seems to find some sort of flaw they can point out in his character (whether it’s giving hush money to porn stars, having 3 wives with different children, mocking disabled people, etc. etc.). When it comes to Venezuela in particular, I can’t say what his intentions are. He’s used the situation as an opportunity to voice his opinions of socialism and has made reference to both their past economic prosperity (Venezuela used to be one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America) as well as their future potential. While this does sound the alarm for some (sounds a lot like colonization), research has shown that developing countries need as least temporary, foreign investment to get back on their feet. To this end, although Trump may or may not actually care about Venezuelans, his policies may benefit them in the end (sound familiar?). Furthermore, although many critics of the Iraq war believed that oil was an influence in our decision to invade, that never came to fruition and I don’t foresee that in Venezuela either. Lastly, Trump has actually decreased our military presence globally in stark contrast to past administrations, so it’s hard for me to believe that Trump is eager to pull the trigger.
Mr. Iber goes on to assert that a U.S. intervention would make matters worse as it could be used as a rallying point for Maduro touting anti-imperialism. While there is a small minority that still favors Maduro, the majority of the country favors Guiado as I mentioned above. Furthermore, this minority consists mostly of aristocrats and elitists; those who benefit from Maduro’s policies and are unaffected by the humanitarian crisis at hand. For this reason, I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Iber on not intervening at all. While I’m still forming my own opinion regarding whether the military should be involved, I think we should all move past the debate of whether or not we should help at all. To be fair, as previously mentioned, I do agree with Mr. Iber on some counts. However, I don’t believe that he is considering the full context of the situation and is making this highly political when we need concrete solutions. And the longer we wait, the more people suffer.
Thanks for reading,