August 9, 2022

Protestors cry for freedom in Ukraine, Venezuela, but U.S. response is barely audible


Quick, what do the Ukraine and Venezuela have in common besides being the scenes of thousands of demonstrators clashing with police in bloody confrontations?

Both countries are also deserts of economic freedom and official corruption, with the Ukraine ranking 155th on the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom and Venezuela ranking 175th.

In other words, nobody should be surprised that when economic freedoms are suppressed or destroyed, assaults on political freedoms are invariably right behind. Dictators cannot abide economic or political freedom for anybody but themselves and their favorites.

Will Obama act or just talk?

The Ukrainian uprising against an entrenched corruptocrat regime is further advanced, with an acting parliamentary government now issuing an arrest warrant for the deposed former president, Viktor Yanukovych.

But President Obama has been all but immobile as the violence escalated on the streets of Kiev and spread to other cities across the country, with nearly 100 people killed in recent days.

As Heritage’s Niles Gardiner notes, “The leader of the free world has been largely invisible as Ukrainian demonstrators are ruthlessly picked off by government snipers and left for dead, while Russian President Vladimir Putin vows that Ukraine will remain in Russia’s orbit.”

Closer to home

Meanwhile, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez’s death has left a political vaccum in Caracas that his hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, has been unable to fill.

But while Maduro lacks the charisma of Chavez, he has no qualms about being just as ruthless in silencing political opponents.

Soaring crime and inflation are fueling the protests, but years of political repression are also behind the demonstrations that have seen government forces using live bullets, tear gas and heavy armored vehicles against demonstrators.

The bigger threat?

It’s tough to decipher which is the more serious threat to U.S. national security interest. The Ukraine is right on the border between East and West, which makes it a perennial powder keg of tension.

But, as Heritage’s Ana Quintana points out, “Not only are the regimes governing the socialist ALBA bloc of Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua hostile to their own people, but they are a danger to the United States.”

It is no surprise then that both Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the Iranian mullahs have been meddling in Venezuela and elsewhere in South America. They see weakness and vacillation in Washington.