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U.S. sanctions Venezuelan Supreme Court judges over attempted power grab

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By —— Bio and Archives May 19, 2017

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How can the U.S. do that, you wonder? As bad as the Maduro regime is, Venezuela is a sovereign country outside our jurisdiction. How can we sanction them?

Remember: Life in Venezuela isn’t a day at the beach for anyone right now. And if you wanted a day at the beach, where you might you go? Yep.


The Trump administration sanctioned eight Venezuelan Supreme Court judges Thursday, freezing their assets and banning them from travel to the U.S. as punishment for stripping the Venezuelan Congress of all powers earlier this year, a decision the court later reversed amid widespread international outcry.

The sanctions are the first unrelated to drug trafficking imposed by the Trump administration against high-ranking members of the Venezuelan government. They are intended to continue to isolate the embattled administration of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, which has been besieged by weeks of escalating protests following an economic collapse that has left Venezuelans tired, poor and hungry.

“The United States is not going to allow those who impede democracy or violate human rights to go unpunished,” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who pushed for the sanctions, told the Miami Herald. He decried some of the judges by name Wednesday on the Senate floor, calling them “puppets who do [Maduro’s] bidding.”

The court, stacked with Maduro loyalists, declared in March it would assume all legislative functions from the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which had been deemed illegitimate after being held in contempt of previous court rulings. Denounced by the opposition and international community as an undemocratic power grab, the court’s decision was undone days later by the judges themselves, under apparent pressure from Maduro.

It sounds like this is being done very much at the behest of Marco Rubio, and if so then good on him. In the post-revolution workers’ paradise of Venezuela, the richest and most powerful certainly seem to spend as much time in the United States as they can, and apparently they’ve taken to keeping a fair amount of their assets here as well.


This is the inevitable conclusion of socialism

Things have gone from bad to worse in Venezuela in recent weeks, and there are now anti-government demonstrations in the streets not just daily but for all intents and purposes constantly. And Venezuelans may have learned something from Tiannamen Square too: You can stop a tank, although in this case it wasn’t just one person who did it. Sheer numbers help too.

The thing that concerns me, though, is that in a desperate attempt to hang onto power, the day might come when the tank drivers’ orders change and instead of stopping short of the crowd they simply run over them.

We can’t emphasize this point enough: This is the inevitable conclusion of socialism. Venezuela is a country rich with natural resources, but corrupt leadership can render that asset irrelevant and put the people in a position where they can’t even lay their hands on basic day-to-day goods. Like Hugo Chavez before him, Maduro was able to buy the people’s affection for awhile with gimmicks like price controls. But as anyone who understands markets knows, that will only lead to shortages of goods over time, and here we are.

Venezuela is a wonderful country that deserves much, much better than its current leadership. We just have to pray that there’s a way to rid of Maduro and his cronies and put in real leaders without blood - or I guess at this point I should say much more blood - being shed.

Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by, which can be found at

A new edition of Dan’s book “Powers and Principalities” is now available in hard copy and e-book editions. Follow all of Dan’s work, including his series of Christian spiritual warfare novels, by liking his page on Facebook.