This is a pivotal week for Venezuela.
Today, Vice President Mike Pence is meeting with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido [Gw-eye-doe] and several other regional diplomats in Bogota, Colombia. Their meeting has new urgency after Venezuela's socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro showed his true colors over the weekend.
On Friday, the Venezuelan military shot and killed two villagers – a man and a woman – and injured a dozen more. The villagers were apparently trying to stop a military convoy from interfering with deliveries of food and medicine along the border with Brazil. Maduro has closed the border with Brazil to prevent aid from entering the country. Because, you know, they don't need the help. Everything's fine. Socialism's got this.
On Saturday, over 300 more civilians were wounded by Maduro's forces, who also burned two aid trucks. Maduro's regime said it was protecting the country from aid that was poisoned by countries trying to interfere with Venezuela's affairs. He says the aid from the U.S. and other countries is just a precursor to invasion.
By Saturday night, the world-wide top trending topic on Twitter was the Spanish version of "#MilitaryInterventionNow."
A lot of Twitter users may want military intervention to remove Maduro, but so far most Latin American countries are tapping the brakes on that. The attempt to transport humanitarian aid into Venezuela over the weekend was a test of the Venezuelan military's loyalty to Maduro. Despite his crackdown, 100 military officers defected to Colombia and Brazil. One sergeant who defected said:
My colleagues also want to get out, but it's dangerous, it takes courage. People insult us, but they need to understand we are afraid. We are military. If we try to leave we risk prison and even death. They threaten our family.
This humanitarian aid stuff and diplomatic meetings in Colombia may be the wrong approach. After all, Maduro's just a well-meaning socialist dictator who has lost his way a little bit. But Congress has several socialists now, led by Bernie Sanders, who could simply go down to Venezuela and give Maduro some pointers. Maybe lend him a copy of the Green New Deal, so he can adapt it for Venezuela – a Verde New Deal. I'm sure the Venezuela situation is nothing that can't be fixed by socialism done right.