Venezuela, the failed state on our doorstep

Of all the rapacious schemes employed by Maduro and his cronies, the most heinous was the one run for the benefit of Maduro himself: profiting from the starvation of his own people. By blocking humanitarian aid from outside the country, he made Venezuelans increasingly dependent on the so-called CLAP program — a food-box distribution. By overbilling on sole-source contracts and purchasing substandard products, Maduro and his front men stole as much as 70 percent of the money that was meant to feed the most desperate Venezuelans. The humanitarian consequences of the regime’s greed have been devastating. One in six Venezuelans have fled the country — as many as six million people. Those left behind live in a country with a completely collapsed public-health infrastructure and no regular access to electricity or water. With many hospitals closed, infant and maternal mortality rates have surged, and diseases such as malaria, dengue, and yellow fever are spreading — not to mention COVID-19. We are witnessing the brutalization of the Venezuelan people right before our eyes, in our own hemisphere. The crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Maduro regime must not go unanswered. Rather than meekly criticize sanctions, the Biden administration should build on the hard work of the previous administration to combat Maduro’s kleptocracy and hold the regime accountable for its crimes. Moreover, the administration must fulfill the commitment America made to the Venezuelan people and put its full support behind interim president Juan Guaidó.