Venezuela’s Mocked Election

from The Wall Street Journal,

How Trump and the OAS can respond to Maduro’s power grab.

Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro went ahead Sunday with elections for a new assembly, claiming that eight million people voted to replace the sitting legislature. Let it be noted that if Mr. Maduro could legitimately turn out eight million voters like this, he would not have had to precipitate the current crisis by blocking a recall referendum on his regime last year. The questions now are what comes next and what should the U.S. do?

The 545 newly elected representatives are supposed to arrive in Caracas and take their seats within 72 hours of the election. This new constituent assembly will have absolute sovereignty. They will rewrite the Venezuelan constitution and have the power to make law. They will surely fire the legitimate national assembly, which is controlled by the opposition. Unclear is whether the current assembly will leave their seats by themselves or force the Maduro national guard to remove them. Mr. Maduro is already threatening to strip the current legislators of legal immunity before their powers are abrogated. The new assembly is also expected to fire Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, an outspoken opponent of Mr. Maduro. President Trump warned Mr. Maduro that pursuing this course would trigger U.S. sanctions, and on Monday the U.S. followed through by freezing any assets Mr. Maduro has in the United States. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called the election “illegitimate” and Mr. Maduro a “dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people.”

But the statement made no mention of sanctioning oil exports, which are crucial to the regime’s survival.

ome will say that oil sanctions can only hurt the Venezuelan people, but they are already suffering extreme deprivation. Some are starving. The U.S. and the willing members of the Organization of American States need to form a united front not to recognize this vote or the regime it has produced.

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