Maduro’s latest outrage proves the Trump administration is failing in Venezuela – Washington Examiner

President Trump must respond forcefully to Nicolas Maduro’s arrest on Thursday of interim Venezuelan President Juan Guaido’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero.

In allowing its rhetoric to exceed its actions, the Trump administration has ceded the strategic initiative to Maduro. In recent weeks we’ve seen repeated pledges for new tough action against Maduro from officials such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton. But President Trump and President Ivan Duque of Colombia have been reluctant to embrace those bolder actions. The consequences are clear: Maduro’s retained power, Guaido’s inability to win greater support from Venezuela’s military, and the escalating suffering of Venezuela’s people.

And while the Trump administration points to new sanctions, such as the new sanctions applied this week on Venezuela’s gold sector, these are not enough. Weak U.S. action has fostered Maduro’s growing perception that he can outlast the U.S. pressure campaign. And that he can crackdown on Guaido and other officials tempted to align with Guaido without facing commensurate U.S. counterforce.

Marrero’s arrest represents Maduro’s next step towards reestablishing control over the levers of power. If Trump allows this arrest to stand without powerful rebuke, Juan Guaido’s detention will follow. Then the game’s up, or the U.S. responses become very narrow.

Trump should respond positively to Juan Guaido’s request for more meaningful actions. One stands out here: the involvement of the U.S. and, potentially, Brazilian and Colombian navies in obstructing Maduro’s oil supplies to Cuba. U.S. action here would fall far short of combat action, but it would create an immediate obstacle to one of the key elements of Maduro’s sustaining power: his reliance on Cuban security forces paid for by Venezuelan oil.

Absent such action, Maduro, will retain power for the foreseeable future. This arrest is a wake-up call. It proves that the current divergence between words and actions is no longer strategically viable.

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