Last Friday, President Trump said in an interview with Axios that he would be open to meeting with Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro. “I’m never opposed to meetings,” he said, and implied that he did not have much confidence in Juan Guaidó, the head of the National Assembly who has declared himself the rightful president of Venezuela.
In response to Trump’s openness to talks with Maduro, Joe Biden tweeted:
Trump talks tough on Venezuela, but admires thugs and dictators like Nicolas Maduro. As President, I will stand with the Venezuelan people and for democracy.
With this tweet, Biden is positioning himself to the right of Trump on foreign policy towards Venezuela, in line with his long-standing support for imperialism and regime change. Biden proudly supports Juan Guaidó, recognizing him as Venezuela’s legitimate leader (although Guaidó was never elected President) and lauds his “efforts to restore democracy.” Biden has on many occasions called Maduro a thug and tyrant, and has repeatedly called for increased multilateral sanctions on Venezuela.
On Monday, President Trump backed away from his earlier comments, instead tweeting that he would only meet with Maduro to discuss his exit from power in Venezuela. His press secretary, Keyleigh McEnany, assured reporters that Trump had full confidence in Guaidó, in contrast to earlier reports that Trump had referred to Guaidó as “the Beto O’Rourke of Venezuela.”
In other words, Biden exerted right-wing pressure on Donald Trump to have an even harsher imperialist line against Venezuela in the midst of the pandemic. This comes on top of the fact that U.S. embargoes have tightened during the pandemic, particularly around oil, which is wreaking further havoc on Venezuela.
As Ángel Arias, a leader of the Workers League for Socialism (LTS) in Venezuela explained at a May Day rally: “The Covid-19 crisis has deepened the people’s suffering, the government’s authoritarianism, and the criminal role of imperialist sanctions. In Venezuela, we are experiencing one of the worst crises in our history, with extensive hunger and misery — a level of crisis only experienced during the armed conflicts of the 19th century.”
But Trump’s political line in Venezuela has long been one of imperialist destruction. The attempt to overthrow elected president Maduro with unelected Guaidó was botched. Since then, there have been slow-moving attempts to destabilize the region and overthrow Maduro. This has primarily taken the form of sanctions, but the U.S. has also backed special operations to oust the Venezuelan president. The Trump administration filed drug trafficking charges against Maduro, and later, when U.S. mercenaries attempted an amateur coup attempt in Venezuela, Mike Pompeo promised to use “all means” to bring them back.
Trump and Biden are united in seeking a coup in Venezuela, but this is not the first time that Biden has attacked Trump from the right on foreign policy. In May, Biden released a racist, chauvinist ad accusing Trump of being “soft” on China. However, Biden’s imperialism goes far beyond mere rhetoric — he has played an active role in shaping the U.S.’s violent foreign policy throughout his entire political career. He voted for both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, advocated U.S. military involvement across the globe, is a staunch supporter of Israel and Zionism, and supported President Obama’s extensive drone usage.
Joe Biden is not a decent man — he is an imperialist, who is outflanking Trump from the right. Far from representing a break with Trump, Biden is simply a continuation of the bipartisan consensus that has led to suffering both domestically and abroad. Very little sets the men apart, and nowhere is this more clear than in their dedication to U.S. chauvinism and imperialism. As socialists, we must be anti-imperialist, and demand an end to violent U.S. policies in countries like Venezuela.