By Kyle Varner:
The Council on Foreign Relations recently published position statements from the Democratic Presidential candidates regarding the crisis in Venezuela. The vast majority of the candidates express a clear commitment to respecting the rule of law in Venezuela, to the continued recognition of Interim President Juan Guaido’s transitional government, and continued rejection of the mafia state constructed by Nicolas Maduro and his evil predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
Senator Bernie Sanders, however, has a markedly different take on the matter. He took the opportunity to say that he would continue to support negotiations between the “Maduro Government and the opposition.” He goes on to criticize the history of US foreign policy in Latin America and cites unnamed Venezuelan activists who oppose sanctions against individuals in Maduro’s narco-regime.
While to the casual reader this may not seem explicitly supportive of Maduro’s tyranny, a close assessment reveals that it is, in fact, a vocalization of support for Maduro. By using the word “Maduro Government” he endorses the legitimacy of the usurpation and elevates to the status of a government what is, in reality, a criminal enterprise that has murdered tens of thousands and driven millions from their homes. He undermines the attempts of the Venezuelan people to avail themselves of constitutional means to re-establish the rule of law. The unnamed activists he cites? Almost certainly members of Maduro’s criminal organization, the PSUV, seeking to deflect blame for the economic crisis.
The real blame for the economic crisis lies squarely on the shoulders of the economic policies of Chavismo, including mass expropriations of private property, currency controls that resulted in effective tax rates of 70% of gross export revenues, nationalization of vast swaths of the private economy, and rampant corruption that is an inevitable feature of the centralization of economic power. Those who deny this shocking reality are either dumb or dishonest. That Bernie Sanders chooses to quote unnamed sources blaming the crisis on sanctions reveals a deplorable level of intellectual rigor.
One cannot credibly express a belief that Maduro is a legitimate world leader, that the constitutional efforts of the country’s citizens to eject him from power are illegitimate, and then claim to “not support” him. Especially not when one has a vile history of support for left-wing totalitarianism–which is the case with Bernie Sanders.
In 1985, Sanders visited Nicaragua, attending a Sandanista rally where the crowd changed “Here, there, everywhere, the Yankee will die.” On this trip, he offered praise for Ortega’s economic policies including the violent expropriation of farmland and state-run health care (Ortega is the current dictator who has driven more than 60,000 people from their homes and whose military forces are currently hunting and murdering dissidents.)
In 1988, Bernie Sanders visited the Soviet Union, where he criticized the costs of health care and housing in the United States and praised the low prices in the Soviet Union. During his trip he never mentioned the plight of the millions of people murdered by the Soviet regime, nor did he criticize Soviet funding of marxist guerillas who had been terrorizing and destabilizing Latin America for decades.
Sanders later expressed support for the Castro regime in spite of the thousands of political prisoners who remain incarcerated in abhorrent conditions to this day. Sanders’ support of oppressive leftist regimes was recognized by Nicolas Maduro himself when he called Sanders “Our revolutionary friend.”
On Sanders’ campaign website, he claims to stand with Native Americans and support the rights of indigenous people. Yet when the Maduro regime emptied two prisons, armed the convicts, and carried out a massacre against the Pemon indigenous people, Sanders didn’t say anything. He speaks up for indigenous rights only when it serves his ideological agenda. For Sanders, if a left-wing dictator commits murder, it’s best to just look the other way.
When the socialist ex-president of Chile Michele Bachelet published a UN human rights report revealing that Maduro’s death squads murdered at least 7,000 political dissidents in the last 18 months, Sanders again remained silent. This rigid ideological loyalty is frightening.
Sanders has a long history of flirtation with left-wing totalitarianism and an equally long history of promotion of leftist schemes domestically. In Venezuelan slang, he would be called “un ñangara”, roughly translated as an extreme, militant leftist.
Is it any wonder, then, why he continues to legitimize Maduro’s mafia state? It is not hard to understand what is happening: Bernie Sanders finds himself faced with a moral dilemma. On the one hand, he believes with every fiber of his being that centralization of economic power in the hands of a political elite will lead to a more just society. As a result, when he saw these things happening in places like Nicaragua and the Soviet Union, he responded with enthusiasm.
Later, when it became evident that this type of centralization of power leads to mass murder, he was forced to make a choice: oppose mass murder, or shill for his ideology. Sanders chose his vile ideology and stood with some of the most prolific butchers in human history.
This is a natural human instinct that we frequently see played out in politics. Republicans, for example, were highly critical of deficit spending under Obama. However, under Trump, they are oddly silent. Politics is a team sport and Bernie Sanders is another team player. His team, rather than being a political party, is a global movement of totalitarian leftists intent on subjugating as much of the globe as possible under the yoke of socialism.
Bernie plays for a team of murderers and that should scare the hell out of American voters. We will have to confront this leftist threat in the upcoming Democratic primaries. While we all hope and expect that very soon Maduro and his henchmen will be dead or in prison, we must ask ourselves if it is acceptable for a militant leftist whose flirtations with totalitarianism earned him the praise of the Butcher of Caracas to occupy the White House.
For anyone who values freedom, human dignity, or human life, the answer is a resounding no. When someone is so blindly committed to leftism as an ideology that they are able to consciously overlook mass murder, it is evidence of profound moral turpitude. Bernie Sanders is an enemy of not only the Venezuelan people but of the American people as well. There is only one way to describe someone like him: profoundly evil. We must not allow this profound evil to occupy the White House.
Thankfully, there will be only one competitive primary election for President of the United States. No matter your ideology, you can vote in a Democratic primary–in many states, without even registering as a Democrat. Americans who are appalled by totalitarian leftism should avail themselves of this opportunity, and vote strategically in the Democratic primaries for the candidate who emerges as the most likely to defeat Sanders. It is not only American liberty that is at stake, but the liberty and stability of the entire hemisphere. Let’s keep this ñangara out of the White House!
Dr. Kyle Varner is a practicing hospitalist. He serves on the board of directors of Liberty International and travels frequently to Latin America to promote free markets and human rights. He has provided volunteer humanitarian medical care to Venezuelan refugees in Colombia and is an active supporter of Movimiento Libertario Venezuela. You can read his website at DrVarner.com and follow him on twitter @Doctor_Varner