Many have argued that Latin America is not a priority for the United States, and Venezuela even less so. But that is rapidly changing. The certain indifference of George W. Bush, the line of appeasement by Barack Obama, and the confrontation of Donald Trump indicate a series of changes that have put the region and Venezuela in focus for the Americans. Look, I don't want to say that the topic of Venezuela is more important than Syria or Israel, but rather that (although a marginal issue) it becomes one of a certain importance or maybe the most important issue of the region. At least that is what this last Organization of American States Assembly has demonstrated.
The Trump policy on Venezuela contrasts radically with Obama's, who chose to move closer to Cuba and facilitate the demobilization of the FARC* narco-guerrillas in exchange for maintaining the status quo in Venezuela, that is, the castrochavism** in power. For Trump the enemy is castrochavism, which has expanded in the region, and his enemies are the Cuban and Venezuelan regimes (and probably Nicaragua) to which he doesn't intend to make concessions and which he sees as terrible threats. The current ambassador of the United States in the OAS was more clear in declaring that "Cuba is the mother of all evil" in terms of destabilizing democracies on the continent.
These changes have just been reflected by the recent OAS General Assembly, which coincides with the nomination and the appointment of Mike Pompeo as the new secretary of state. Since last March the State Department has taken a hard line toward Venezuela. The exiting of Thomas Shannon, who represented the stance of the previous administration, is a demonstration of this. Vice President Mike Pence has also actively participated in this, showing this hard line but with a rapprochement to the different democratic leaders of the continent. Pence has taken various trips to the continent and has taken a very active role.
With Rex Tillerson, the United States had given room for the Latin Americans and Canadians to lead the pressure against the Venezuelan regime. It did not even become part of the Lima Group*** in order to keep a certain distance. But since the Summit of the Americas this seemed to have changed. There, Pence reaffirmed that "the United States will not rest ... until democracy is restored in Venezuela," and a month ago at the OAS he announced the initiative to suspend the Venezuelan regime from the century-old organization. At the same time, the United States began openly working with the Lima Group to create mechanisms geared toward sanctioning the castrochavist faction that rules over us, incorporating individual financial sanctions.
In this OAS assembly, Pence and Pompeo played a very active role, meeting with ambassadors and communicating with presidents in order to successfully pass a forceful resolution condemning the regime, creating the base for more sanctions and paving the way so that it will not leave without applying the Democratic Charter.**** I don't know if we are a priority to the United States or not, but what has been demonstrated in the past few days is that it is very committed to returning democracy to our country. Nicolás Maduro knows that the United States comes at [Venezuela] with everything it has.
*Editor’s note: FARC is the acronym for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia−People’s Army, a Marxist-Leninist group involved in the Colombian armed conflict from 1964-2017.
**Editor’s note: The term castrochavismo is a combination of the words Castroism and Chavism, which refer to political ideologies of the communist left. It is a newly coined word originating in politics in Colombia that describes a supposed leftist ideology that could allow communism to be installed in Colombia.
***Editor’s note: The Lima Group is a multinational body that was established following the Lima Declaration on Aug. 8, 2017, in Lima, Peru, where representatives of 17 countries met in order to address the political crisis in Venezuela.
****Editor’s note: The Inter-American Democratic Charter was adopted on Sept. 11, 2001, by a special session of the OAS General Assembly. It is binding on all 34 of the currently active OAS member states, and spells out what democracy entails and how it should be defended when it is under threat.