Trump, out of nowhere, delivers a masterstroke on Venezuela – Washington Examiner
Earlier on Tuesday, I criticized President Trump’s reaction to the violent crackdown on Venezuelan protesters by forces loyal to Nicolás Maduro. I suggested Trump’s tweets in support of interim President Juan Guaidó were insufficient.
I am happy to admit that I was premature in my criticism. Because later, Trump sent out a couple of remarkable tweets:
….embargo, together with highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba. Hopefully, all Cuban soldiers will promptly and peacefully return to their island!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
April 30, 2019
This is excellent. Trump has recognized the subjugation of the Venezuelan people and American credibility to the violent authoritarianism of Nicolás Maduro. He has responded by pledging the calibrated application of American power to the accession of interim Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó.
The focus on Cuba is well-designed. The island nation’s highly capable security forces are the primary mechanism by which Maduro has kept his power. I strongly suspect Cuba’s hand will be shown as instrumental in the crackdown on Tuesday against various military officers. But by focusing pressure on Cuba with far greater purpose than previously shown, Trump offers a diplomatic off-ramp for Maduro and his cronies. Without Cuba, those officials cannot bribe their way into continued power. Similarly, if Cuba goes without Venezuelan oil, as Trump’s threat of an “embargo” suggests, its leaders will have to abandon Maduro.
But thanks to Trump’s tweets, Cuba faces a moment of truth. Does it choose Maduro, or does it test American resolve?
Cuba should choose wisely. As President John F. Kennedy showed 57 years ago during the Cuban missile crisis, it is unwise to bet against a determined American president.