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Biden Must Not Reverse Trump Doctrine in Latin America

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President Biden would make a huge mistake by dismantling former President Trump’s foreign policy towards Latin America. Above all, it would be simply irresponsible to reverse Trump’s aggressive and effective pushback against Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela—the three tyrannies of the western hemisphere. By turning back to the old foreign policy, America will turn its back to the millions of Latin Americans who have fiercely fought to regain their freedom.  

Joe Biden made it clear in the campaign trail that a Biden Administration would dismantle Trump’s aggressive foreign policy against authoritarian regimes in Latin American. However, ignorant cheerleaders who call on Biden to accelerate the dismantling process make matters worse.

In an op-ed published by The Hill, Francisco Rodriguez and Jeffrey Sachs tell us “How Biden can clean up Trump’s Venezuela mess,” in which they outline a series of ill-conceived premises and notions that are far from reality. Blaming the Venezuelan crisis on Trump is to fully exonerate—without no clear purpose—those truly responsible for the greatest humanitarian crisis the region has ever witnessed. Their rhetoric is reckless, and it must be denounced. The real culprits for the historic displacement of millions of Venezuelans and the death due to starvation of hundreds of thousands of civilians are the Bolivarian Revolution of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, including socialism and the allies of the regime, such as Cuba, China, and Russia.

Rodriguez and Sachs prefer to blame the U.S. and Trump, ignoring the history of socialism in the country. To them, blaming Trump is easier, mainly due to the sanctions that the former president enacted against the country. They are ignorant of Venezuelan history. As we already pointed in a previous editorial in El American:

“Long before the first sanction was imposed by the government of Barack Obama, in 2014, the country was going through difficult times, marked by scarcity and a stampede of fleeing multinationals. Expropriations, price controls, currency controls and restrictive labor laws led, in 2008, to the first episodes of economic hardship. They were only a prelude.”

In addition:

“And if today Venezuela, a rentier state that could never overcome its dependence on the oil industry, is going through dramatic times —and its goose with the golden eggs, the state-owned PDVSA, is on the verge of collapse—, it has more to do with the politicization and looting of the industry than with the willingness of the Donald Trump administration to prevent trade between Venezuela, a criminal state, and countries like Cuba or Iran, other criminal states.”

The Trump Administration’s sanctions were strategically designed to target the regime’s nomenklatura. Otherwise, why did Venezuelan officials spend millions in lobbying efforts to seek the repeal of the gradual strangulation of the numerous criminal businesses of Chavismo? Those who have benefited from the plundering of Venezuela for years now find themselves unable to travel and enjoy their wealth in capitalist nations, as they are banned from doing business with western countries. We should always be suspicious of anyone who advocates for the lifting of these sanctions.

But Rodriguez and Sachs do not stop there. They also call for the dictatorship’s great allies to aid with a transition to “future elections” that would, of course, maintain the regime in power. Their conclusion is significantly disturbing:

“A stabilization and recovery plan, backed by the U.S., European Union, Russia and China through the IMF and World Bank, would serve as a crucial step toward the political transition to future elections. Such a step-by-step solution to Venezuela’s political crisis will be possible when the country’s dueling political factions learn to live with each other, rather than seek ways to annihilate the other.”

The authors clearly ignore that the “political factions” they are referring are, on the one hand, a criminal, drug-trafficking regime that is also linked to international terrorism, and on the other hand, a starved and subdued society. Claiming the Venezuela crisis is a duel of equal “political factions” is petty and a low blow to millions of Venezuelans who are currently fighting for their freedom.

The Biden Administration would make a substantial mistake if it dismantles Trump’s gains in Latin America. No other administration has ever had a similar grip on socialist regimes in the region, as evidenced by the former president’s electoral support among Latinos in Florida. The reversal of diplomatic engagement with Cuba, which was later declared as a state sponsor of terrorism, and the sanctions against the authoritarianism of Managua or Caracas plunged 21st Century Socialism – which under the Obama-Biden Administration lived its golden years – into its darkest and least influential era.

Today, however, 21st Century Socialism appears to be gaining momentum, as it takes advantage of the support of an administration that threatens to be hostile to the friends and policies that advance freedom in Latin America. The only path to tackle socialism is to maintain the aggressive and effective policies of the previous White House against tyrannies. It is imperative that the Trump Doctrine in Latin America is not reversed.

The Editorial Board

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