But there is a more fundamental issue at play. The world’s dictatorships support Maduro because they want to undercut the principle, adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, that the international community has an responsibility to protect populations from atrocities carried out by their own governments. By backing Maduro, they seek immunity for themselves. Defending the spirit of the so-called R2P principle, which the left should cherish, was a key motivation behind the decision by many other democracies – including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, and the UK – to recognize Guaidó.

Rather than stick to their old political dogma, leftist political figures should heed the voice of Toshiko Sakurai, a Venezuelan exile. “I am sick of you,” she told the Spanish left. “We both believe in public universal education and health care financed with taxes” and “a safety net and wealth redistribution.” But, she continued, “supporting socialist policies doesn’t keep me from denouncing the brutal monstrosity being inflicted upon my country.”