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Hope for Venezuela

January 25, 2019

The Trump administration showed commendable leadership in Latin America this week by recognizing Juan Guaidó, the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, as the country’s legitimate president, in a repudiation of the Nicolás Maduro regime. It was a rare foreign policy move in the right direction by an administration that has been marred by one blunder after another. The move — and the global coalition behind it — offers reason to be cautiously optimistic that the leadership crisis in Venezuela might be approaching a resolution.

Venezuela has deteriorated fast from a nation in economic distress to one facing a full-blown and unprecedented humanitarian crisis. In recent years, more than 2 million Venezuelans have fled to neighboring countries due to a severe shortage of food and medicine. Venezuela is led by a repressive government that has ordered arbitrary arrests of dissidents, among other human rights abuses, and one that refuses to accept any humanitarian aid.

Presiding over the slow collapse has been Maduro, the country’s president since 2013 and now de facto dictator, who has been systematically stripping away existing democratic protections to consolidate power...

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