Roosevelt Institute | Cornell University

Venezuela Seeks Equity in U.S. Relations

By Hannah CashenPublished March 13, 2015

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The tenuous relationship between Venezuela and the U.S. is no secret. But what happens when the government takes action in forcing out U.S. presence?
By Hannah Cashen, 03/13/15

In reaction to recent tensions between the governments of Venezuela and the United States, the government of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has taken action against what he views as consistent and permeating foreign meddling. Maduro has given the United States fifteen days- until March 15- to drastically reduce the numbers of Americans in the Venezuelan Embassy (cited as 100) to match the number of Venezuelans present in the American embassy (cited as 17). 

Maduro cites his goal of striving for equality between the two countries as sufficient reason for the attempted diplomatic overhaul. In further attempts to ensure equality and reciprocity, "Mr. Maduro also said Saturday that Americans traveling to Venezuela would now need visas to enter the country and that they would have to pay a fee equal to what Venezuelans pay for a visa to the United States." Venezuela has further developed a list of US individuals (such as Dick Cheney and George Bush) who are not welcome in the country at all.

Although this action is indeed drastic, it is not entirely unwarranted. The US cannot hope to meddle endlessly in foreign affairs without some repercussions. Maduro has discussed the inevitability of his actions, saying that Venezuela has been fighting the type of "unconventional war that the US has perfected over the last decades." Indeed, the US can hardly ignore Venezuela's oil supply and it would be naive to assume that oil is not the driving force behind US intervention. That being said, Maduro is fighting an uphill battle with his own government and his empty claims that his country is being taken over by the rich simply illustrate his weak grasp on power. A volatile relationship with Vice President Joe Biden has oscillated from verbal commitments of friendship to Maduro's accusations that Biden is attempting to overthrow the Venezuelan government only exacerbates the issue. The State Department continues to stand its ground and affirm that, "The continued allegations that the United States is involved in efforts to destabilize the Venezuelan government are baseless and false."

Amidst all of these rumors of which secret agreements or debates actually occur behind closed doors, Maduro has taken a borderline disciplinary, perhaps excessive tone with the US. He is undoubtedly scapegoating US involvement for the country's financial and economic crises. At the same time, though, is certainly time for the US to face the reality that we are simply no longer strong enough to mandate sweeping changes in a continued effort to exempt ourselves from the rules we have created. This particular instance simply represents the reality that the USA has been avoiding: even if this is an isolated incident of Biden's eccentricity or even an empty accusation, our country's imperialist and exceptionalist tendencies no longer have unquestioned global power to back them up. Instead of running unchecked the US is being held accountable for our actions, and we must learn how to handle this new role on the global stage.