Democratic Socialist representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) refused to reject and denounce Venezuela’s current president Nicolas Maduro.
“I think that this is absolutely a complex issue. I think it’s important that we approach this very carefully. Myself, just like anyone else, is absolutely concerned with the humanitarian crises that’s happening, and I think it’s important that any solution we have centers the Venezuelan people and centers the democracy of the Venezuelan people first. I am very concerned about U.S. interventionism in Venezuela, and I oppose it, especially when we talk about a figure like U.S. Special Envoy Elliott Abrams here. He’s pled guilty to several crimes related to Iran-Contra. I am generally opposed to U.S. interventionism as a principle, but particularly under this administration and under his leadership I think it’s a profound mistake.”
Maduro has been in power in Venezuela since the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013. Chavez had begun the self-styled “Bolivarian Revolution” in 1998, seizing political, military, and economic power in an effort to reform Venezuela along socialist lines. This “Revolution” has led to Venezuela falling from one of the economic and social powerhouses of Latin America to a state in which people are either starving or fleeing, Maduro is forcibly preventing aid from reaching the country, and the United States and many other countries have recognized Juan Guaidó as the rightful leader of Venezuela.
There is nothing “democratic” about Maduro’s leadership. Chavez himself successfully gathered power around himself, then pulled Maduro into his inner circle. Maduro rules by decree and military force; means through which he hopes to retain power in the country. The people of Venezuela are crying out for him to leave and imploring other countries to help them be rid of his autocratic rule.
Let’s look at some statistics regarding Venezuela under “democratic socialism:”
- GDP Growth (2018) = -14.3%
- Inflation rate (estimated) = 65,000% to 2,680,000% (numbers depend on the methodology used)
- Percentage of population below poverty line = 87% (it was 19.7% in 2015)
- Unemployment = 34.3%
(These statistics are derived from material here, but the Washington Post has a useful set of charts which depict the decline of Venezuela here).
Maduro has overseen the demise of Venezuela in every realm possible: politically, economically, socially. He has used force to maintain power, even sending in armed gangs just recently to stop food shipments into the country. He had the Venezuelan supreme court (packed with Maduro supporters) rule in 2017 that the democratically elected National Assembly (which Juan Guaidó serves as the President of) is illegal. He is an illegitimate tyrant.
If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez cannot denounce such an obviously despotic and destructive ruler, just what sort of moral authority can she possible have?