Our Opinion: We can’t ignore

Quite a few countries have shaky economies, with double-digit unemployment, crumbling treasuries and even food shortages. One of them has the largest petroleum reserves in the world. It is Venezuela.

Months of demonstrations in the streets have left nearly 100 Venezuelans dead and at least 1,500 wounded. The country’s corrupt socialist government, headed by Nicolas Maduro, has been unmoved by the unrest, the suffering of its people and even a referendum last week in which millions of people demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the regime.

Within a few days, Venezuela will hold an election meant to name a new constituent assembly that is to rewrite the nation’s constitution. Whether it is conducted honestly, which is highly doubtful, and whether the government bows to the will of the people will be important.

For months, few world leaders have shown any desire to intervene in Venezuela’s internal affairs. But last week, that began to change. Canada, Mexico, Brazil and the European Union have expressed concern about the upcoming vote.

President Donald Trump issued a statement proclaiming that, “The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles.” He vowed “strong and swift economic actions” if the Maduro regime installs a puppet assembly.

If that is done, care must be exercised to avoid hurting the very Venezuelan people Trump wants to help. And under no circumstance should the United States intervene directly against Maduro’s government.

Clearly, however, neither our government nor others can continue to ignore what is going on in Venezuela, where enormous suffering is being caused by an autocratic regime that is not supported by the people of that country.