The world must turn back Venezuela’s growing dictatorship

fox newsOver the weekend, Venezuela succumbed to dictatorship. It’s going to take a concerted international effort to reverse this ugly development.

On July 30, Socialist strongman Nicolas Maduro held a fraudulent and highly unpopular election. As a result, all 545 seats of a new “Constituent Assembly’ are being filled with candidates hand-picked by Maduro’s National Socialist Party (PSUV). The Constituent Assembly is empowered to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution, expel members of the opposition from the current National Assembly, and consolidate all power in the executive branch.

On the day of the election, Maduro’s security forces killed 16 innocent demonstrators and bystanders. Videos showed National Guardsmen pouring live fire into unarmed crowds and lobbing teargas into hospitals and apartment buildings.

In 121 days of antigovernment protests, government forces have killed 130 innocents and detained 3,500 demonstrators. More than 430 protestors remain incarcerated. …

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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 elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. 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, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

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 American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.