Editorial: In Venezuela, the despotic Maduro has got to go

The Globe and Mail-01The ongoing collapse of Venezuela’s economy, and the official demise of its democracy this past weekend, have brought the South American country to the brink of anarchy.

Those who can are fleeing the country, while President Nicolas Maduro consolidates his power and rounds up his opponents. Those who remain are preparing to fight back, and there is a growing dread that the violence that has killed more than 100 people since April is about to turn into something far worse.

The response from the international community, Canada included, will be critical. Push too hard on economic sanctions, and the result will only make things worse for the people of Venezuela. But to do nothing will achieve the same result. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and elsewhere. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, Russia, and even transnational criminal organizations.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform policymakers and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.