WITH A reported 3 million Venezuelans having left their country to escape the tyranny of dictator Nicolas Maduro, the Trump administration has recognized Juan Guaido as the interim president of the once prosperous South American country.
Not surprisingly, most Democrats have remained mum on Trump’s recognition of Guaido. Their hate for the president and their allegiance to “the resistance” prevents them from publicly supporting Trump, even though most other democratic governments have followed Trump’s lead.
Although Democrats are generally sympathetic, as they should be, with those seeking asylum in the United States, most have also remained silent on the reason a significant number asylum-seekers at our southern border are from Nicaragua.
Like the Venezuelans, they are fleeing tyranny—at the hands of Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega.
Perhaps it should not be surprising that many Democrats are loath to support publicly Trump’s Venezuela policy or to recognize Ortega’s contribution to what they have described as a humanitarian crisis at our border with Mexico. Particularly now that those on the far left of the party are proud to call themselves socialists.
After all, Maduro and Ortega are both proud socialists as well.
Indeed, it is the self-described democratic-socialists in the Democratic Party, including at least one likely candidate for president of the United States, who have been willing to oppose Trump’s recognition of Guaido.
In a January 24 news release, Sen. Bernie Sanders proclaimed that “we must learn the lessons of the past and not be in the business of regime change or supporting coups—as we have in Chile, Guatemala, Brazil and the Dominican Republic. The United States has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries; we must not go down that road again.”
The New York Post reported that newly elected Rep. Ro Khanna of California stated that “the U.S. should not anoint the leader of the opposition in Venezuela during an internal, polarized conflict.” He urged the administration to “end sanctions” against the Venezuelan regime.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez of New York, the new darling of the far left, re-tweeted Khanna’s statement.
The Post also reported that Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota labeled Guaido’s installation as interim president a coup: “A U.S.-backed coup in Venezuela is not a solution to the dire issues they face. … Trump’s efforts to install a far-right opposition will only incite violence and further destabilize the region.”
Fox News reported that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii urged the United States to “stay out of Venezuela.” “We don’t want other countries to choose our leaders,” said Gabbard, “so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.”
These newly elected members of Congress are only following the earlier lead of Bernie Sanders and other stalwarts of the Democratic establishment who were supporters of Daniel Ortega the first time he rose to power in Nicaragua.
Aspiring presidential candidate Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that those seeking entry at the U.S. border with Mexico were “fleeing oppression.” He failed to mention that the oppression is at the hands of a man he once admired.
According to the New York Times, de Blasio was an early admirer of Ortega’s Sandinista party, an employee of the Quixote Center that likened American involvement in Nicaragua to a “policy of terrorism,” and a volunteer for the Sandinista-supporting Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York.
Sanders toured Nicaragua in the 1980s and came home to declare: “Vermont could set an example to the rest of the nation similar to the type of example Nicaragua is setting for the rest of Latin America.”
Sanders was also an admirer of Fidel Castro’s example in Cuba. The Hill reported that Democratic Senators John Kerry (former secretary of state and the Democrats’ nominee for president in 2004) and Tom Harkin traveled to Nicaragua and “returned touting a peace plan with the Sandinistas that undermined President Reagan’s foreign policy.”
In his meeting with Ortega, Kerry “accused the Reagan administration of engaging in terrorism,” according to Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.
In the 1980s, Tim Kaine (now a senator from Virginia and the Democrats’ nominee for vice president in 2016) traveled to Nicaragua and Honduras, where he reportedly embraced the Sandinista-supporting liberation theology.
These old and new leaders of the Democratic Party have real ownership in the regimes that are driving refugees from Nicaragua and Venezuela to our southern border.
The lot of them might benefit from visiting the Mexican border and asking those seeking asylum how they feel about socialist Comandante Ortega now.
James Huffman is dean emeritus at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.