A bipartisan group led by Senators Ben Cardin and Marco Rubio hopes to aid Venezuela’s struggling people and sanction its corrupt government with new legislation. Reuters reports:
The bill would provide $10 million in humanitarian aid to the struggling country, require the State Department to coordinate a regional effort to ease the crisis, and ask U.S. intelligence to report on the involvement of Venezuelan government officials in corruption and the drug trade, according to a copy seen by Reuters.
It also calls on President Donald Trump to take all necessary steps to prevent Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company, from gaining control of any U.S. energy infrastructure…
Addressing corruption, it would require the U.S. State Department and intelligence agencies to prepare an unclassified report, with a classified annex, on any involvement of Venezuelan government officials in corruption and the drug trade.
The ruling socialists have been claiming for more than a year that all of their troubles are the result of an economic war waged by the United States. Last May, Maduro even claimed Venezuela was preparing for a U.S. invasion. While standing in front of an armored personnel carrier Maduro said, “We’re as ready for an invasion as we’ve ever been.”
Despite his bluster, the Maduro administration has become increasingly desperate. In March the pro-government Supreme Court issued a decision stripping the opposition-controlled National Assembly of power. After several days of protests, that decision was rolled back.
Yesterday, Maduro announced plans to convene an assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution. The NY Times reports this is another gambit aimed at avoiding holding elections:
To many, Mr. Maduro’s call to rewrite the Constitution seemed like an effort to divert attention from the political crisis he has been facing in the streets and to avoid elections that his governing United Socialist Party is likely to lose, according to polls.
“From my point of view, they are in a dire situation that they don’t know how to continue using the normal mechanisms, such as having elections,” said Enrique Sánchez Falcón, a legal expert and professor at the Central University of Venezuela.
The Senate proposal may help generate international support for elections in Venezuela. The real problem is that the ruling socialists have vowed they won’t give up power. Maduro already has ties to Iran, China, and Russia. Those nations could decide to defend Maduro’s dictatorship in the same way they defend Bashar al Assad in Syria. We’re not at the point of civil war yet, but it increasingly seems like the most likely outcome of the current crisis.