Match Words With Actions in Venezuela, Mr. President
Follow Reagan’s example in rescuing Grenada from Cuban domination.
By U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham
May 22, 2019
President Trump has stood firmly on the side of the Venezuelan people. He correctly declared Juan Guaidó the legitimate leader and Nicolás Maduro an impostor, urged Venezuelans to resist the Maduro regime, and promised that America stands with them. The Trump administration has done a terrific job building a regional and global coalition against Mr. Maduro. The Organization of American States has come out firmly in support of Mr. Guaidó.
In a Feb. 18 Miami speech, Mr. Trump declared that he will stand against socialism and for democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere. Now is the time to follow through on that promise.
The situation in Venezuela has become a humanitarian crisis, with citizens literally starving. The turmoil in Venezuela is destabilizing the region and creating a nightmare for its neighbors, which are forced to deal with the mass exodus of Venezuelans fleeing oppression.
Mr. Maduro’s regime is propped up by communist Cuba, which has stationed thousands of security forces in Venezuela to protect him from his own people. This continues the Havana dictatorship’s long history of opposition to democratic governments. Cuba is a Western Hemisphere version of Iran—a rogue nation sowing discord and damaging America’s long-term interests.
In the 1980s, confronted with Cuban intervention in Grenada, President Reagan intervened militarily, ensuring Grenada didn’t become a satellite state of Cuba. The U.S. must be willing to intervene in Venezuela the way we did in Grenada. Mr. Trump should tell Cuba to withdraw all security forces from Venezuela immediately. If Cuba doesn’t comply, the U.S. should move military assets to the region.
A show of resolve in the face of Cuban intervention will encourage the Venezuelan military to abandon Mr. Maduro and side with the people of Venezuela. A strong American response would force the Venezuelan military leadership’s hand. While no one wants a military conflict, this nightmare in Venezuela must end for the good of the region and for the sake of democracy. If Mr. Trump put Cuba and Mr. Maduro on notice, it would send a clear message to dictators and despots that America means what it says.
For generations, America has stood for democracy and freedom around the world. The Venezuelan people have suffered enough and are ready for peace, prosperity and a better life. They are looking to America for leadership, and the world is watching.
A free, democratic Venezuela has the potential to be a great economic and national-security partner to the U.S. That won’t happen as long as Cuba is interfering in Venezuela, propping up Mr. Maduro, and working against the interests of both America and the Venezuelan people.
America must stand for our values and with the people of Venezuela. An ultimatum to Cuba to withdraw their forces would be the beginning of the end of the Maduro dictatorship and a giant step for America in pushing back against Cuba’s destructive influence. The world is watching.
Mr. Graham, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from South Carolina.