- Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday would not refer to Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro as a “dictator,” despite criticism he’s faced over his stance on this issue in recent days.
- During a CNN town hall focused on his 2020 campaign, Sanders conceded there has been undemocratic aspects to Maduro’s rule, but warned against leaning toward military intervention.
- “I think we’ve got to do everything we can to create a democratic climate, but I do not believe in US military intervention,” Sanders said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday stopped short of referring to Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro as a “dictator” as he expanded on how the US should address the crisis there.
During a CNN town hall, Sanders was asked if he believes Maduro is a dictator after facing criticism from Democrats and others in recent days over his stance on the pandemonium in Venezuela.
Sanders replied, “It’s fair to say the last election was undemocratic, but there are still democratic operations taking place in that country. What I am calling for right now is internationally supervised free elections.”
“I think we’ve got to do everything we can to create a democratic climate, but I do not believe in US military intervention,” Sanders also said on Venezuela as he cited the disastrous history of US interventionism in Latin America.
Bernie Sanders: “My view is that whether it is Saudi Arabia, which is a despotic regime, or whether it is Venezuela, I think we’ve got to do everything we can to create a democratic climate, but I do not believe in US military intervention in those countries.” #SandersTownHall pic.twitter.com/W6nTSl8V4c
— CNN (@CNN) February 26, 2019
Maduro is widely viewed as an authoritarian and has been rebuked throughout the international community for undemocratic practices and policies that have helped push his country into economic collapse and chaos.
But Sanders has avoided referring to him as a dictator and has not embraced Juan Guaidó, the self-declared interim president, as the Latin American country’s legitimate leader. The US government and many of its allies have firmly supported Guaidó.
Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala of Miami, Florida, who represents Venezuelan exiles, on Friday slammed Sanders in an interview with Politico over this. “He is not going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. He has demonstrated again that he does not understand this situation,” Shalala said. “I absolutely disagree with his imprecision in not saying Maduro must go.”
Over the weekend, there were violent clashes at the Venezuela-Colombia border amid efforts to bring in humanitarian aid. Forces loyal to Maduro have sought to block the aid convoys from entering the country.
A truck in a convoy attempting to deliver humanitarian aid into Venezuela from Colombia went up in flames and crowds started taking boxes of supplies from another truck, as Nicolas Maduro has refused to allow any kind of international aid in the country. https://t.co/nmlqoBh818 pic.twitter.com/KUIIgqe52p
— ABC News (@ABC) February 25, 2019
As Sanders answered questions on Maduro on Monday night, reports surfaced that Univision reporter Jorge Ramos and his crew had been briefly detained in Caracas because the Venezuelan leader apparently didn’t like the questions Ramos asked during an interview.
Ramos reportedly referred to Maduro as a “dictator” and a “murderer” as they spoke.
Maduro was really set off and abruplty ended the interview when Ramos showed him a video of young men eating from a garbage truck, BuzzFeed News reported.
Estas son las imágenes que @jorgeramosnews le mostró a Nicolás Maduro y que provocaron que Maduro se levantara de la entrevista, que retuvieran al equipo de Univision y que confiscaran su trabajo. Esto es lo que Maduro no quiere que vea el mundo. pic.twitter.com/UfSZ3lr5Jm
— Enrique Acevedo (@Enrique_Acevedo) February 26, 2019
“We don’t have anything,” Ramos told Univision after his team was released. “They took our cameras, everything. They have the interview.”
Ramos described the experience in a video on Facebook. He said Maduro “couldn’t stand” the questions he was asked and “tried to close my iPad where I showed him the video and then he said the interview was over.”
“They took me into a security room, with producer Maria Guzman and they asked for our mobile phones. I didn’t want to give them my mobile phone. So they turned off the light of the room and a group of agents came in,” Ramos said. “They took forcefully my backpack, my mobile phone, they did the same thing with Maria’s, and they forced us to give them our pass codes for the mobile phones. We didn’t know what was going to happen to us.”
The team of journalists was detained for roughly two hours, Ramos said.
“I think we’ll never have that interview again. They don’t want the world to see what we did,” Ramos added.