US Must Let Venezuelans, Bolivians Sort Out Their Own Governments - Senator

© AP Photo / Alex Brandon / Activists walk past the front of the Trump International Hotel during the, "Hands Off Venezuela!", 16 March, 2019, Washington
Activists walk past the front of the Trump International Hotel during the, Hands Off Venezuela!, 16 March, 2019, Washington - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States must stop interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela and Bolivia and remove the crippling sanctions on Caracas, Virginia State Senator Richard Black said.

"We [the United States] simply need to leave Venezuela alone. Let them be. Let them sort out their own government. I think that would be best for the whole world," Black said.

The United States began intensifying sanctions against Venezuela in January just days after US-backed opposition leader and one term lawmaker, Juan Guaido, proclaimed himself president of the country. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused Guaido of being a Washington puppet and said the United States was orchestrating a coup to seize the country’s natural resources.

"The United States - the State Department, the CIA - chose this young fellow, Juan Guaido, to be the president," Black said. "He's a joke, nobody listens to him and he's a total puppet. Most nations don't recognize his presidency."

Although Venezuela’s socialist government has not been effective, the state senator added, outside forces should not try to determine the country’s future.

"But it's not my government and it's not for me or for any American to determine how the Venezuelans should run their affairs. I will tell you that my confidence in my analysis was a little bit shaken because I always thought that the Venezuelan economy was in bad shape because of the government. But it's hard to sort out how much of it is the government and how much of it is the sanctions," Black said.

Black continued to say that Washington should lift the blockade and the sanctions against Venezuela which is causing "unimaginable suffering" especially by cutting the country off from trading its oil.

"We have demonetized their currency, and through the international banking system we made the Venezuelan currency worthless and then we go and we say, ‘Well look how bad this government is, their currency is worthless.’ Well, they didn't make it worthless, we made it worthless," Black added. "Then, we've had a virtual blockade on their oil exports. And then we say, ‘well look they can't feed their people,’ - well they can't feed their people because we've cut off all of their sources of income. So, the whole thing has been so poorly done."

Black pointed out that the situation in Bolivia is "a little bit different."

"The coup in Bolivia was carried out by the military, which removed Evo Morales. While it's true that Morales’ re-election had irregularities, he did have strong support. And his successor was a virtual unknown," he said. "You know, again here we are, the US is selecting its anointed ruler. I just believe it would have been better for Bolivians to work things out themselves. The irregularities that had occurred were the subject of internal struggles in Bolivia. I just don't think it's up to us to sort it out."

Black believes, however, that the United States had a special interest with Bolivia because the Latin American country has very large deposits of lithium, which is an essential ingredient for modern batteries.

"I think this influence is our desire to see a new government there," he said. "I think there was concern on our part that the Chinese might begin to exert influence within Bolivia. And that it might have somehow make it more difficult for the United States to obtain lithium for batteries that we're now using in automobiles... I think it was part of the equation at least."

Venezuela and Bolivia are not the only countries that have recently experienced instability - protests have erupted in countries across Latin America including Colombia, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador.

"The United States, many years ago, hundreds of years ago, established the Monroe Doctrine which said, essentially, that Latin America would be under the dominion of the United States. And unfortunately, the way that we have applied the Monroe Doctrine has been very heavy-handed, and because of that, we have been involved, particularly in Central America, involved in overthrowing governments that we disliked," Black said. "Sometimes they were socialist or communist leading and we just did not like having that type of thing get closer to our borders."

"But the problem is, that all of this destabilization, that overthrowing one government after another has exacerbated the immigration problems and the problems with drug cartels; and having Latin America destabilized the way it is driving this massive uncontrolled immigration into the United States across the southern border," he noted.

Black continued to say that the destabilization has also empowered the drug cartels, like the Sinaloa Cartel and some of the others.

"It has really given them almost the power to govern Mexico and they have extended a web, a sort of a spider web of drug distribution points that extends to every city in every town and every village in the United States," he explained.

"And so, I just think if we stop micromanaging the region and we allow people to experiment with whatever form of government they want that we would be much better off," Black concluded. "I think Latin America would be far wealthier and far more stable, and that would relieve some of these pressures on the United States. But that would require us to just sort of take a new look at how we apply the Monroe Doctrine and it would require state to use a much gentle hand than we do now."

The United States and only 50 other countries have recognized Guaido as head of Venezuela. Russia, China, Turkey, and several other countries continue to recognize Maduro as the only legitimate Venezuelan leader.

Bolivia's former President Evo Morales stepped down on November 10 and later fled to Mexico following protests that broke out in response to his reelection for a fourth term and the military's calls for him to resign. Most of Bolivia’s senior officials have resigned as well. As a result, opposition lawmaker Anez declared herself interim president. Morales has characterized the situation as a coup.

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