Senator Cruz: Venezuela Can and Should be Prosperous
As opposition protests drag into their second week in Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro is taking a page out of the Castro playbook to violently oppress Venezuelans who are demanding an end to his disastrous rule. Activists have been detained and abused, and even shot dead in the streets. Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who has emerged as a powerful voice for economic and political freedom, has been arrested and faces the summary judgment of a makeshift kangaroo court. But the perseverance of the protestors in the face of these thuggish tactics suggests there are still many who do not accept the failed socialist policies of Hugo Chavez and his hand-picked successor as inevitable. Venezuela can and should be free and prosperous, not suffering under the withering blight of violent crime, rampant inflation and shortages of basic necessities—not to mention close allegiances to Iran and Cuba.
A year ago when Chavez died and Maduro became president in a highly-questionable election, the Obama administration missed an opportunity to support the opposition by encouraging the Organization of American States to step in and supervise a recount, opting instead for the illusory stability of the status quo. We should not miss another such opportunity to support those who would be our friends in Venezuela, and we should urge the OAS to dispatch a delegation to investigate the alleged human rights abuses of Maduro’s regime. We should press vigorously for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Lopez. And we should make it clear that the United States stands with those who are fighting for a brighter future in Venezuela.