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Ocasio-Cortez Declines to Denounce Maduro

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a march organized by the Women’s March Alliance in Manhattan, N.Y., January 19, 2019. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday declined to denounce socialist Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, calling the country’s current crisis a “complex issue.”

At a press conference to mark the opening of her first congressional office in Queens, the freshman Democrat was asked about the “Venezuelan crisis” and her willingness to “denounce the Maduro regime.”

“Yeah, so I think that this is absolutely a complex issue,” Ocasio-Cortez began. “I think it’s important that we approach this very carefully.”

The congresswoman said she is “absolutely concerned with the humanitarian crisis that’s happening,” adding that it is important that “any solution that we have centers [on] the Venezuelan people and centers [on] the democracy of Venezuelan people first.”

“I am very concerned about U.S. interventionism in Venezuela and I oppose it,” she said, explaining that she particularly opposes the leadership of U.S. Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams, who is known for pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress during the Reagan administration’s Iran-Contra scandal. President George H.W. Bush pardoned Abrams in 1992.

“I am generally opposed to U.S. interventionism as a principle, but particularly under this administration and under his leadership I think it’s a profound mistake,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

In an interview published last week, another freshman Democrat, Representative Ilhan Omar, responded “absolutely not” when she was asked whether she, like the U.S. and dozens of other countries, recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.

The U.S. has levied heavy sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to cripple Maduro’s regime. The Trump administration has also pledged nearly $56 million in additional aid to partners in the region working to aid the Venezuelan people, many of whom are starving. Two weeks ago, troops loyal to Maduro shot tear gas and rubber bullets into convoys of opposition supporters attempting to bring food and medical aid to citizens.

President Trump said last month that military intervention in Venezuela is still “an option.”

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