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“In the Defense of Liberty.”

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Here we are, and this appears to be a guiding philosophy on the dilemma that is Venezuela. Venezuela is currently not doing great. Explaining why a nation overflowing with oil is currently poor is a hard task. It requires me to explain to you the past few decades of Venezuelan politics. At the gist, due to horrendous economic mismanagement, a once rich nation is now, well, not.

Many nations consider Venezuela’s leader, Nicolás Maduro, illegitimate. He has burned US Aid shipments, hurting his people for other political goals. Curiously, he has accepted Russian aid. Maduro has rigged elections and has been ignorant of the needs of his people. Most will concede that something, anything, must occur in Venezuela. It’s morally imperative.

The Republican answer has been sanctions and war. However, if one is seeking to provide humanitarian aid, this is curious as well. They enforce sanctions with one hand and provide a specific form of aid on the other. They call for democratic elections, while whispering about a coup.

I don’t seek to defend Maduro; someone must act. However to assume that sanctions and war are the way to do it is dangerously foolish. Economic sanctions don’t ease anything. They hit the poor hardest, while Maduro doesn’t even notice it in his Presidential Palace. That, I presume, is an idea that is easy to grasp. If you wish to improve the condition of the Venezuelan people, sanctions are not a good option. They are ineffective and unjustifiable.

Yet, war, has effects that are even longer lasting. As a rule of thumb, when America invades or intervenes in a nation, it doesn’t end up well for that specific nation. I don’t need to recount to you the stories of various nations. To invade Venezuela would be to replace one humanitarian disaster with another.

This is hard to visualize with the hellscape of Maduro’s Venezuela, of course. However our coups often fail (which can lead Maduro to lash out at his own populace), or have negligible results. None of us want to hear of Venezuelan ISIL in five years, right? I don’t say this to bash Republicans, or to defend a tyrant. I say this because it is true; our blunders in Latin America and other countries are too costly a mistake to repeat.

This leaves us with the sticky question of what to do. There is no satisfying answer to this. This is a dilemma of high stakes. Doing nothing seems as reckless as doing something rashly.

One interesting solution has called on Maduro to move to Cuba with his top officials. Then, he can let the opposition fix what is a failed state. This is an optimistic view, that we forget two decades and let Venezuela rise from the ashes. That requires that crimes against humanity go unpunished. It also forgets that Maduro has united the opposition. Without him, they are squabbling parties with competing interests.

Another solution is an offer that doesn’t need invasions or sanctions. That is, let Venezuela sort it out. Maduro cannot hold on for longer, this solution says. I find it hard to say why, but giving the Venezuelan people such extreme agency may work. Maduro grows unpopular, yet it seems terrible to let him fall down in such an ugly way, which various, potentially dangerous consequences. Even moreso, it can lead to civil war.

But, there is a middle road: let Venezuela’s friends and neighbors help out. Not only can it actually work, Maduro also supports it as well. A plan from Maduro calls for Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Argentina to form an organization. This five-member organization can propose goals and conditions for Maduro. In the best case scenario, they will neither be a slap on the wrist or absurd. Maduro is willing to work with allies such as Russia and China. This is one step more local.

Maduro can be bluffing, but in the midst of it all, other solutions seem bleak. This solution is the only one that has a higher potential for success then the others. Regardless, war is a solution which guarantees terrible results. There is rarely a good outcome when we involve ourselves in this manner. History is again unfolding as tragedy, not farce.

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