The international left, then, should have taken notice and—supporters of Maduro or not—urged against the dismantling of democracy, and walking back from the precipice; friendship is not telling a drunk comrade that they are a great driver and thus ceding the moral high ground to the cop that pulls them over.

It is also true that the Venezuelan government, not the U.S., is largely responsible for the state of the Venezuelan economy.

“The big problem is that… the Maduro government did not implement a sensible exchange rate policy, so it created a tremendous amount of opportunity for corruption,” says Greg Wilpert, the former head of teleSUR English, and the husband of a Venezuelan diplomat.

The state oil company, PDVSA, has also been looted by corruption. While at teleSUR, I reported that the U.S. government had thoroughly infiltrated its computer system—reporting that Maduro cited on television. That act of electronic espionage coincided with the U.S. government’s successful pursuit of embezzlement charges against the Venezuelan elite.