February 22, 2019

Against Maduro, For Socialism

“Nicolás Maduro’s decision to block humanitarian aid to the starving Venezuelan people is no surprise. It’s already well-established that the dictator and his Cubans backers are tyrants.

What really matters politically is the effect of new U.S. Treasury rules mandating that payments for Venezuelan oil go to an escrow account for the government of interim President Juan Guaidó. As the Journal’s Kejal Vyas and Bradley Olsonreported Feb. 4, the restrictions “are making it difficult for the Maduro regime to secure payment for the oil.”

A severe cash-flow disruption increases the odds that Mr. Maduro will have to move out of the presidential palace. Even so, democracy advocates had best not get ahead of themselves. Many risks would remain even if Mr. Maduro retires.

From the earliest days of Hugo Chávez’s rule, oil money has been the key to power in Venezuela. Chávez tightened his grip at first not by executing opponents but by buying them off. This is why friends of the region’s hard left are wringing their hands and crying that the Treasury rules will hurt the Venezuelan people.

The Venezuelan people are already destitute, and anything that accelerates Mr. Maduro’s demise is good for them. But what happens next?”

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