FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 30, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC—On Tuesday, an uprising in Caracas unfolded after Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guiadó called on citizens and members of the military to join him in challenging president Nicolás Maduro. Defense Priorities Policy Director Benjamin H. Friedman issued the following statement in response:
“Venezuela’s economic crisis is a humanitarian disaster for Venezuelans. Americans should offer sympathy, aid, and best wishes for the restoration of true democratic rule, but we should not try to force regime change there.
“Military intervention should be off the table. Forced regime change is never easy and quick, and it is far from certain it would improve the lives of Venezuelans. Toppling governments brings chaos and makes exiting difficult. Regime change could make Venezuela’s problems America’s problems.
“Even non-military efforts to aid Juan Guaidó’s gambit should be approached with great caution. A government of Venezuela that seems like a U.S. creation would lack legitimacy and could totter and induce more chaos. Statements of support are understandable, but it is unclear how much good they do, given the sensitivity to past U.S. interventions there.
“If Maduro prevails, as seems likely, the push to restore democracy in Venezuela will not disappear, but it will have suffered a serious setback. Washington will have to ask whether grudging acceptance of Maduro’s rule is better than prolonged hostility.
“The U.S. should strive to be an exemplar of liberal values and to advocate for those values where they are assaulted, as in Venezuela. But we should be not an exporter, especially by force, of our form of government.”