Venezuela in a Vise

The New York TimesBy 

Thousands of people are expected to fan out in protest across Venezuela on Wednesday to demand a referendum for the removal of President Nicolás Maduro: His government has overseen an economic crisis that has decimated livelihoods throughout the country.

A so-called recall referendum may be held if 20 percent of registered voters in each state sign a petition at the end of this month.
Even if they do, however, a meaningful recall vote is far from guaranteed. Under the Constitution new elections won’t take place if the referendum is scheduled after Jan. 10. In that case, and if Mr. Maduro is voted out, the vice president will serve the remaining two years of Mr. Maduro’s term in his place. …

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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.