A Tale of Two Crises: Venezuela and Trump

With soaring disease, hunger, and mass emigration, Venezuela is experiencing its worst socio-economic crisis in history. As I predicted a month ago, conflict, violence, and death have further erupted along the Venezuela-Colombia border. No one knows the true casualty figures, although foreign news media are indicating it is, so far, a small number of persons shot and killed.

Along the Venezuela-Brazil border, large caravans of trucks with food and medicine from the United Nations’ World Health Organization for the people of Venezuela have been halted and prevented from entering by self-proclaimed leader Arturo Maduro. The U.S., most Latin American countries, and key European countries do not even recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

The Trump Administration assured the American public and the rest of the world that the Venezuelan military would turn on the Maduro regime, causing it to fall. Yet, as of this writing, the Maduro government still stands. And, as American propaganda is being promoted, Russia, China, and Cuba continue to build fortifications and pour assets into Venezuela in support of Maduro.

What happens in Venezuela will directly affect Black and Hispanic communities in the Twin Cities due to immigration. As three million Venezuelans have fled, the Twin Cities will no doubt be among those burdened with additional costs of education, housing, and health care.

In the meantime, it is clear to the trained eye that Trump is taking advantage of helpful diversions, including the meetings he had during the week of February 27 in Hanoi, Vietnam with Vietnam’s President Nguyen Phu Trong, and then with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as his upcoming meeting in March at his Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach, Fla., with Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the new team of Democrats in Congress need to study harder to better understand his playbook. The same disappointment holds regarding America’s Fourth Estate, which has also not figured out the rules of engagement with Trump nor with the special counsel’s playbooks, regarding perceived do’s, don’ts and can’ts.

How long will America’s future remain in the hands of those in Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, who continue to act like children on a New York city playground? Government — complex and challenging— needs grown-ups to operate with fairness, not just power, in order to maintain equality of opportunity for all (and not just partisan party favorites).

We are reminded of the adults like Thurgood Marshall and colleagues who dealt with Jim Crow by avoiding childish fits of violence and keeping their eyes on the prize. When they found the tough task of undoing Jim Crow causing them “distressed moments,” they turned to the single dissent of Justice John Marshall Harlan, a former slave owner.

In the “separate but equal” ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson, Harlan “grew up” to write that the Constitution as amended (especially the 14th Amendment), “removed the race line from our governmental systems” and prohibited any arbitrary separation of citizens “on the basis of color.”

We urge the elected and appointed officials in Congress and Senate houses to seek that same vision that Thurgood Marshall found in our Constitution.

Stay tuned.