First, authoritarian regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was forced to contend with a group of dissident police officers who dropped grenades on the country’s Supreme Court from a hovering helicopter. Then, Mr. Maduro was targeted by a pair of exploding drones at a military parade in August.
But as Maduro finds himself increasingly vulnerable to being violently overthrown, the South American dictator just received words of support from an unlikely source. Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose own critics are notorious for meeting violent or suspicious ends, publicly condemned international meddling in Venezuela and declared: “The terrorist methods to overthrow power in the country are unacceptable.”
Referring to the August attempt on Maduro’s life, where two drones packed with C4 explosives failed to dispatch the socialist leader, Putin asked, “Are we going to approve [of] these type of political fights?”
Putin was hosting the International Energy Week in Russia when he called the drone strike an act of terror. The conference addressed the political factors which affect the stability of international oil prices.
However, Maduro has been more concerned in recent years with how consistently low oil prices have affected his own political situation. Despite controlling the largest proven oil reserves on the planet, Maduro has effectively wrecked the Venezuelan economy by insisting on socialist reforms, leading to hyperinflation and shortages of basic medical goods, food, and services.
While Venezuelans contend with a humanitarian disaster instigated by government incompetence, Putin spoke out against intervention.
“No one should go into the pottery shop like an elephant without understanding what is going on, just thinking that the elephant is the biggest and smartest animal,” he said.
A festering crisis
As children starve to death in hospitals across Venezuela, Putin suggested that non-intervention in the country was about respecting this civilian populace. He argued that the malnourished masses “should have the opportunity to resolve the situation on their own” as “a matter of principle.”
But the Trump administration doesn’t share Putin’s optimism for the ability of ordinary Venezuelans, who experience regular government crackdowns, to resolve their increasingly unsustainable situation.
In August 2017, President Donald Trump said plainly that America had a “military option” for Venezuela. When a group of rebellious military commanders sought to make contact with his administration, Trump was initially hesitant.
Yet, as the country descended into chaos and the humanitarian crisis worsened, the U.S. president met with these dissidents and considered a plot to overthrow the dictator. The plan was eventually scrapped, likely because of the poor human rights records of the rebellious plotters.
Trump continued his anti-Maduro hard-line stance during last week’s 73rd United Nations General Assembly, declaring: “We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela.”
Responding a day later on the same world stage, Maduro played the victim.
“Our nation is a country that is harassed and attacked,” Maduro said. “Yesterday, in this very place, the president of the United States of America spoke once again against the noble people of Venezuela.”