In furtherance of its pressure campaign against Nicolas Maduro’s illegitimate government, the U.S. and its allies in the Americas, Asia, and Europe should sanction Venezuelan military officers, including junior ranks, who are preventing aid from reaching Venezuelan soil.
Sanctions would be justified for two moral reasons. First, because the only legitimate democratic authority to accept or reject the U.S. aid is interim president Juan Guaido. He has accepted the aid while calling on the military to reject Maduro’s diktats. Second, because the Venezuelan people are in desperate need of the aid. This is not a concern for fatso Maduro and his cronies. They spend Venezuela’s shrinking wealth reserves in the world’s finest restaurants. But Venezuela’s children are starving, and adults are going without basic medicines. The consequence is immense human suffering.
But beyond the moral exigency of the moment, sanctioning these officers would also serve the broader U.S. strategy of decoupling Maduro from the military that keeps him in power. If Venezuelan captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels realize that their futures are being tied to Maduro, rather than picking the most powerful figure in any one moment, their incentive to keep Maduro in power will be reduced. This conception of interests already finds a strong foundation in that the junior ranks of the Venezuelan military are deeply disenchanted with the regime already. After all, many are suffering in similar ways to their fellow civilian citizens. But U.S. sanctions threats will mean that when the tipping point of a popular, partly military-led revolution finally comes, and it will come sooner than you think, these officers will have reason to support the revolutionaries.
Pressuring Maduro here is also important for a political reason. With Guaido under increasing threat from Maduro’s regime, the U.S. and its allies must do everything in their power to show Maduro for what he is: an enemy of the people. The evidence of this is abundant and measured in forensic fashion by the conduct of his cronies. Consider the video published by a local anti-Maduro politician on Wednesday, which shows civilians protesting an army crew acting under Maduro’s direction to obstruct aid convoys.
That’s what the apex of socialism looks like. The destruction of Earth’s most oil-rich nation into beggary and starvation.