During his travels in South America, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called the ongoing tragedy in Venezuela a “human-imposed condition.”
“This is not some act of God,” he noted. “It's not something that just had to happen because it was a natural disaster. In fact, they sit on enormous oil reserves. They've got tremendous opportunity for their people.”
The United States abhors what the “misguided Maduro regime” has done to the once prosperous country. “We stand with the people of Venezuela in the midst of the tragedy that's forced on them by the power-hungry oppressive regime that has compelled the citizens . . . to flee their own country,” declared Secretary Mattis.
President Nicolas Maduro has lashed out against and threatened neighbors who have pointed out the regime's failures. “Maduro,” said Secretary Mattis, “should know that we do not solve our problems in this hemisphere in that way, and that we democracies will stand together in rejecting such bellicose language and the saber rattling that is behind it.”
Simon Bolivar, a Venezuelan military and political leader who liberated Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, among others, from Spanish rule, once said that the most perfect system of government is that which produces the highest sum of societal security and the highest sum of political stability. “It was Maduro and his inner circle,” said Secretary Mattis, “that violated the liberator's proud legacy.”
Democracy, the rule of law, individual freedom, and human rights cannot be taken for granted, warned Secretary Mattis. It is important to remember this when looking at what Maduro has done to destroy Venezuela’s democratic government.
A key characteristic of a professional military is democratic, civilian control. You see this in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia, observed Secretary Mattis. But “you will not see it in Cuba, you will not see it in Venezuela, you will not see it in Nicaragua, where the military is used to oppress their own people and keep certain regimes in power,” noted Secretary Mattis.
As a bulwark against these repressive regimes, the United States is seeking to broaden and deepen cooperation with allies and partners committed to strengthening democracy and the rule of law in the Western Hemisphere.