President Trump’s Speech deserves praise for denouncing the repressive regimes of Venezuela and Cuba in his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, although his speech has generally been music to the ears of dictators around the world.
Unlike former President Obama, who did not mention the word “Venezuela” in his last two annual speeches to the UN General Assembly, Trump criticized restrictions on basic freedoms in the two Latin American countries in his speech to the UN on Tuesday .
Without repeating his disastrous August 11 error, when he said the United States was considering a “military option” in Venezuela and caused many countries to move away from US diplomatic efforts to isolate the Venezuelan regime, Trump said it will continue to apply ” “To the regime of Venezuela.
Translation: threatened to gradually scale financial sanctions against members of the Venezuelan revolutionary elite and government institutions, and called on other countries to do the same.
“The socialist dictatorship” of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro “is completely unacceptable,” Trump said. He added that the goal of the international community should be “to recover freedom, restore the country, return to democracy.”
On Cuba, Trump called the Cuban regime “corrupt” and “destabilizing.” But his words were largely symbolic: he did not announce the closure of the US embassy in Havana, nor a drastic reduction of US flights and cruises to the island, or anything like that.
To put things in context, Trump’s speech confirmed that Cuba, Venezuela and the rest of Latin America are the last of Trump’s international priorities. Trump spoke about the crisis with North Korea, Iran, radical Islamic radical terrorism, “uncontrolled migration” throughout the world, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Cuba and Venezuela.
Earlier, the State Department had sent a press release to reporters that Trump’s “priorities” in his first speech to the UN would be North Korea, Iran and terrorism. The speech did not mention Venezuela or Cuba.
Anyway, Trump’s references to the lack of fundamental freedoms in Venezuela and Cuba were something positive. Considering the Trump government’s lack of attention to Latin America-and, worse, Trump’s hostility to Mexico and its obtuse vision of trade, immigration, the environment, and other issues of concern to the region- which he dedicated to these two countries.
So why should we be worried about Trump’s speech? Because it was a flagrant contradiction: it began by pointing out that democracy and human rights will no longer be among the pillars of US foreign policy, and ended up calling for “freedom” in Venezuela.
The new “Trump Doctrine” turns the back on a long bipartisan tradition of US presidents defending democracy and human rights as fundamental principles. Trump said that, “from now on, US foreign policy will be guided by sovereignty, security and military force”.
This contradiction raises disturbing questions. Does it mean that Trump will forget the abuses of Venezuela and Cuba the moment he can reach an agreement with Russia or China on higher priorities such as North Korea?
Does it send a signal to other aspiring dictators around the world that Washington will accept the autocrats, as long as they do not bother Uncle Sam?
The United States has taken this road before, and was counterproductive. President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in 1939 that the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza “may be a h.d.p., but he is our h.d.p”. The outcome of Roosevelt’s support for Somoza and his disdain for democracy and human rights in Nicaragua led to the emergence of Marxist guerrillas and anti-American regimes like the one in power in that country today.
If the new Trump doctrine continues to deface the defense of democracy and human rights everywhere, Trump’s statements about Venezuela and Cuba can only be seen as contradictory, opportunistic and not as important as they should be.
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