Why is Venezuela on the verge of democracy? President Trump’s leadership has a lot to do with it.
Eight years ago, I was evacuated from Egypt due to the Arab Spring uprising. As I learned then, repressive governments can turn off free speech with a flip of a switch. In Egypt, the Mubarak regime disabled the internet for millions of Egyptians as protests intensified in the streets.
The night before my evacuation, we frantically positioned fire hoses, kitchen knives, and empty glass bottles to defend our dorm, which was located not too far from Tahrir Square in Cairo. Meanwhile, fighter jets flew low over the city as the failing Egyptian dictator grasped for control.
It was the military versus the people.
From Egypt to Latin America
This unexpected evacuation from Cairo sent me to Latin America. To finish my semester abroad, I went to Argentina to study journalism at la Universidad Nacional de La Plata (“UNLP”). While attending UNLP, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was given a “Journalism Award” from the faculty and, to my surprise, came to La Plata to accept it.
I stood in the back of a field to hear Hugo Chavez speak. During his speech, Chavez yelled that ‘’The Yankee Empire is sucking the blood of the Latin American People.” Students around me cheered. The speech ended.
After that, I witnessed first-hand how socialist policies crippled Latin America. I left Argentina for Nicaragua, where I taught English in a pro-Ortega neighborhood outside Managua. Like in Egypt, the government controlled the free-speech switch. Propaganda lined the streets while basic needs such as water and sanitation were ignored. Still, in places like Nicaragua, Chavez was a hero.
Empty promises of socialism failed then, and they will fail today.
Today: Venezuela’s Return to Democracy
Fast-forward from Egypt to Venezuela. The Maduro regime is using its speech switch to disable the internet in a futile effort to prevent this constitutional transfer of power. Venezuelans, like so many Egyptians that I met, are crying out in the streets for liberty.
But what’s different about Venezuela today? America now provides a clear alternative to the empty promises of socialism.
The American economy is booming, and unemployment is at a 50-year low in the Land of the Free, disproving Maduro’s rhetoric. The Trump administration’s support of the pro-democracy movement reassures Venezuelans and our allies that America first doesn’t mean America alone.
Democrat leaders, on the other hand, seem to think the U.S. should shun the Venezuelans and their courageous efforts for democracy despite Maduro’s crackdowns.
Look no further than Twitter. The same day that President Trump became the first leader in the world to recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted about the “Maduro Government” and cautioned against regime change. American leadership shouldn’t appease an illegitimately elected socialist.
The economic devastation in Venezuela, and the uprising it has sparked, should be clear reminders to all Americans of socialism’s empty promises — especially as more Democrats run for President on such policies.
But for now, America will continue to offer our allies a better alternative. America will help the people of Venezuela restore freedom and democracy to their land. Because this time, there is one key ingredient that was lacking in the past: President Trump.
John Pence (@JePence) is a senior adviser to the Trump 2020 campaign. He holds a law degree from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and is obtaining an MBA from New York University. His views and opinions are entirely his own.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.