Trump has recognized the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly as Interim President:
There we have it: Trump recognizes Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the Interim President of Venezuela pic.twitter.com/MNCOtdoioH
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) January 23, 2019
As general rule, it is very questionable for the U.S. government to throw its support behind an opposition leader during an internal political dispute like this. When this administration has flirted with the idea of backing a coup in Venezuela and the president has floated the possibility of invading the country, any overt U.S. interference in Venezuelan politics seems likely to do more harm than good. The U.S. should always be reluctant to take sides in any internal power struggle, and it should be especially cautious when it concerns a country whose people have strong anti-American sentiments. The side that the U.S. backs risks backlash from the population, and that risk is greater when the U.S. is backing a side that may not have the support of most of the people.
The best course of action for the U.S. in cases like this is to stay out of the dispute as much as possible until it has been resolved internally. Every time that the U.S. tries to interfere in Venezuela, it works to Maduro’s benefit, and this could end up having a similar effect. Trump has been taking the advice of reflexive hawks on Venezuela, and that has led him to make one blunder after another. This latest blunder could prove to be the worst yet.