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Progressives Break With Democratic Party Over US Opposition To Socialist Dictator Nicolas Maduro

At least three progressive Democrats have broken with their party to criticize President Donald Trump for his Wednesday decision to oppose Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro.

Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Ro Khanna of California excoriated Trump when he became one of several world leaders to recognize Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the country’s leader instead of Maduro.

The people of Venezuela have faced extreme economic hardship and crackdowns on their freedom under Maduro, who succeeded infamous socialist dictator Hugo Chavez. The Trump administration announced sanctions against Maduro Monday.

Omar is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Gabbard has announced a 2020 Democratic presidential run.

“A U.S. backed coup in Venezuela is not a solution to the dire issues they face. Trump’s efforts to install a far-right opposition will only incite violence and further destabilize the region. We must support Mexico, Uruguay [and] the Vatican’s efforts to facilitate a peaceful dialogue,” Omar wrote on Twitter Thursday.

Gabbard also spoke out against recognition of Guaido by the U.S. Nearly 15 nations including Brazil and Canada have also recognized Guaido over Maduro, reported Bloomberg.

“The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don’t want other countries to choose our leaders — so we have to stop trying to choose theirs,” Gabbard wrote on Twitter Thursday.

Khanna, who is on the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on Venezuela Thursday:

The United States should not anoint the leader of the opposition in Venezuela during an internal, divided conflict. There is no doubt the Maduro’s economic policies have been terrible, and he has engaged in financial mismanagement and also political authoritarianism. But crippling sanctions and threats of military action are making life worse for ordinary Venezuelans, and the U.S. stands alone in its decision to impose economic sanctions against the Venezuelan government. We should work to support the efforts of Uruguay, Mexico and the Holy See for a negotiated settlement and end the sanctions that are making the hyperinflation worse. I plan to circulate a letter to my colleagues to the Trump Administration urging them to immediately change course in its policy toward Venezuela.

Meanwhile, Democrats like Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois sided with Trump on the foreign policy issue. Durbin said in a statement Wednesday:

Last year I visited Venezuela and found a country on the verge of political, economic, and humanitarian collapse. I told then-President Maduro that if he went ahead with a sham election under absurdly rigged conditions he would find his regime even further isolated and in question. Tragically that is exactly what has happened and why President Trump, Secretary General of the Organization of American States Almagro, and other nations in the region have appropriately recognized National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as the constitutionally appropriate leader of Venezuela.

U.S. action in Venezuela has also included $20 million in humanitarian assistance, reported the Miami Herald.

Maduro, 56, countered Trump’s decision by saying he would cut diplomatic ties with the U.S. during a speech outside his presidential palace in Caracas Wednesday.

Trump’s announcement came after Guaido, 35, declared himself the country’s interim president amidst “nationwide protests” Wednesday, reported NPR. Guaido is the head of Venezuela’s Congress, according to CNBC. CNBC also reported:

Venezuelan opposition sympathizers had been urging Guaido to assume the presidency since Maduro was inaugurated to a second term on Jan. 10 following a widely boycotted election last year that the United States and many other foreign governments described as a fraudulent.

Brazil and Canada have also recognized Guaido over Maduro. Maduro compared Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to dictator Adolf Hitler in a speech on Jan. 14 after Brazil recognized Gauido.

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