Organization Trends

The Democratic Socialists of America Back Strongman Maduro

This week, opponents of Venezuela’s revolutionary socialist regime asserted power, with National Assembly President Juan Guaido taking the oath of office as Acting President. The Lima Group of Latin American states, the United States, Canada, and a number of European states endorsed Guaido, recognizing his opposition government. The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) did not.

It joined Russia, China, and Iran in support of Nicholas Maduro, successor to former leftist dictator Hugo Chavez and a beneficiary of one of the largest corruption scandals in world history. The DSA joined that gallery of rogue states, condemning American sanctions on the Maduro regime and deeming the constitutional assumption of executive authority by the democratically elected Guaido to be a “U.S. driven coup.”

The DSA stands mostly alone among Americans in endorsing Maduro’s dictatorship, for now. Even DSA-endorsed former candidate for Florida governor Andrew Gillum praised Guaido and the “tens of thousands of brave protestors” who supported his inauguration.

The dream of “democratic socialism” in Venezuela and across South America once bewitched a number of American left-wing figures. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, left-wing activist Jesse Jackson, and actor Sean Penn were among the radicals who praised the Chavez-Maduro regime for bringing economic equality and resisting Anglo-American “neoliberalism.” Indeed, the American Left wove the story of Venezuela into a tapestry showing a broader, Pan-American resistance to the American liberal capitalist model from Argentina to the Amazon—a “pink tide” that Oliver Stone promoted in his 2009 propaganda film South of the Border.

Watch our video on this wrong-headed support for socialism.

And then cops in southern Brazil started investigating a car wash. That investigation led them to corruption at Brazil’s government-owned oil company, Petrobras. Those findings led investigators to corruption at the highest levels of business, most notably the public works contracting conglomerate Odebrecht. And through the findings of the investigations into Petrobras, Odebrecht, and other businesses, investigators found bribery and influence-buying not only in Brazil but across South America—including in Maduro’s Venezuela.

The investigation is now one of the largest corruption scandals in world history, known by its Portuguese name Operação Lava Jato—in English, Operation Car Wash. Investigators have identified at least $1.9 billion in bribes. According to testimony by a Brazilian political consultant to Hugo Chavez, $11 million in payments went into Chavez’s 2012 re-election campaign.

Venezuela’s socialist revolution should have receded after its 2015 legislative elections brought its opposition bloc into control of the National Assembly. Maduro responded by having his socialist-packed high court create a rubber-stamp faux-legislature which purported to replace the Venezuelan constitution. Maduro then held sham elections under the new constitution; his opponents took to the streets.

In backing Maduro against his democratically elected and constitutionally authorized rival, the DSA has endorsed not only an anti-democratic regime but the beneficiary of massive corruption, one that privileged oil cronies and oligarchs over the will of the people.

Michael Watson

Michael is Research Director for Capital Research Center and serves as the managing editor for InfluenceWatch. A graduate of the College of William and Mary, he previously worked for a…
+ More by Michael Watson