After a Dismal Start on Venezuela, Trump Attempts a Sharp Course Correction

After a Dismal Start on Venezuela, Trump Attempts a Sharp Course Correction
A shaman performs a ceremony holding a portrait of Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, upside down, as another holds a poster of U.S. President Donald Trump, Lima, Peru, June 12, 2017 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

Some of the Trump administration’s most recent foreign policy pronouncements have put Venezuela, perhaps the biggest crisis in the Western Hemisphere, front and center. The statements signal that the administration is not only placing more importance on Venezuela, but also that it is attempting a much-needed course correction.

Last week, in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald Trump spoke at length about the political and economic unrest in Venezuela, outlining Washington’s new approach. On the evening before the speech, Trump met with a group of Latin American leaders, and Venezuela was topic No. 1 ahead of the General Assembly. In addition, when the Trump administration unveiled its new policy on travel restrictions to replace the controversial measure that had been described by critics as a “Muslim ban,” the list of eight countries subject to the most severe restrictions included, to almost everyone’s surprise, Venezuela.

It all suggests the Trump administration is trying to correct a haphazard policy that started with disastrous first steps. Trump’s pronouncements regarding Latin America, particularly about Mexico, left a bitter taste in the region even before he came to office. His seemingly-off-the-cuff threats against Venezuela made matters much worse. The damage was so severe that Vice President Mike Pence tried to allay concerns by traveling to Latin America, where Trump already squandered improvements in U.S. relations and is generally despised.

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