Latin America

Maduro extinguishes democracy in Venezuela

As the Maduro regime snuffs out the last embers of democracy in Venezuela, I appreciate President Trump’s forthright demand for the release of political prisoners, especially opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma.

After an opposition-boycotted election on Sunday that would replace the opposition-controlled National Assembly with a regime-controlled “Constitutional Assembly,” the US imposed sanctions on Maduro.

(Ken Livingstone, being Ken Livingstone, stands by Maduro and blames the Venezuelan calamity on Hugo Chavez’s failure to “execute the establishment elite”.)

The sanctions against Maduro are largely symbolic. A much more powerful action would be sanctions on oil imports from Venezuela. But as The Washington Post reports:

The president understands that it’s bad politics at home to rise gas prices. Venezuela supplies 10 percent of America’s oil imports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, making it the third largest supplier behind Canada and Saudi Arabia. Philip Verleger, an energy economist who runs consulting firm PKVerleger LLC, predicts oil prices could spike $10 a barrel if Trump does a full ban on Venezuelan oil.

“Prices would go up like a rocket,” says Verleger. “Gas prices in the U.S. would go up 25 or 30 cents a gallon within a couple of weeks.”

It would nice if the Trump administration extended its support for democracy to other oil producing countries. But all signs are that the administration will be extremely selective in its support for democracy and human rights in other countries.

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