According to Republican polls, the longest holdup in paychecks in the history of U.S. federal employees has damaged Donald Trump’s prospects in 2020. This, among other things, has led him to seek political victories on other fronts, including complicated Venezuela. He has gone public with his preference for the Venezuelan opposition government, led by Juan Guaido, who, for his part, expects to be arrested by the Nicolas Maduro regime at any moment.

Whether this is enough to calm the Trump base so that hopefully they vote for him and his political inconsistencies in the future is another matter. What is clear is that Venezuela needs free elections right now after persistent internal and external tensions that at best prolong the well-known cost in lives and property among a population that, since Hugo Chavez rose to power, has given everything in return for injustice, scarcity, shame, disgrace and, above all, the administrative poverty of the Maduro regime, which owes its continuation to the armed forces ... and Cuban assistance. Today, Miguel Diaz-Canel, president of Cuba, said, unbelievably, “Nicolas [Maduro] is a constitutional president.”

When the U.S. government rushed to recognize the government junta that overthrew President Chavez in 2002, it had to withdraw with its tail between its legs because the self-proclaimed leader of the Bolivarian revolution returned to power three days later, disgusted more than ever with the U.S. There were Latin American governments that condemned the anti-Chavez coup. Today those same countries say that Maduro’s 2018 election was fraudulent and that Cuba interfered in the same way that it has meddled in other countries.

It has been observed that the hasty recognition of Guaido by the U.S. invites history to repeat itself. However the geopolitical situation is more complicated due to the number of international players, some voicing opposition to, and some support for the Maduro regime; and because of the disastrous economic situation in Venezuela, the thousands of Venezuelans escaping oppression and disorder and the antagonism surrounding Venezuela that exists between China and Russia versus the U.S. − which favors Maduro − and with the fact that Chavez did not succeed. Today Vladimir Putin affirmed, “Maduro is a legitimate president.”

That Guaido, Trump, the Lima Group, the European Union and others have spoken out supporting the return to democracy in Venezuela through free and appropriate elections has prompted Turkey’s dictator, Recep Erdogan, to back the Maduro regime out of fear that a similar movement could erupt in his country. This is not about the political left or right, but about any dictatorship or strong government that confronts a latent contempt for their leadership encouraged mostly through extensive social media networks. Even Putin, supported by oligarchs, the armed forces and questionable elections, takes a dim view of a population asking for free elections in order to put a dictatorial regime behind them. The truth is that the Venezuelan people are not only up against an unprecedented internal conflict, but they also confront a number of international umbilical cords that are defending their own interests. Against this backdrop, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton stated on Thursday, Jan. 30: “The fact is Venezuela is in our hemisphere.”*

*Editor’s note: John Bolton’s statement was made on Jan. 24, 2019.