In this story.
Before I go on, let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Yes, the human rights situation in Venezuela sucks (and I’ve not been shy about admitting it here). The government is getting increasingly authoritarian there, and anytime opposition leaders are routinely jailed it’s outright creepy.
But, Venezuela is hardly the only place where the human rights situation sucks. Let’s compare two other petro-states.
First, Malaysia. It’s probably the closest situation to Venezuela of the two I’m comparing, because like Venezuela it’s (in theory) a democracy. It’s also a place where opposition leaders get jailed (and sometimes tortured). Venezuela has been dominated by the Chávistas since 1999. Malaysia has been dominated by its ruling coalition (without interruption) since 1957.
Second, Saudi Arabia. Here there’s not even the pretense of democracy. It’s a flat-out absolute monarchy. Remember all the hand-wringing about the evils of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and how they were thoughtlessly demolishing their country’s historic legacy and had a tyrannical “Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue” enforcing the strictest possible interpretation of Islamic law with an iron fist? Well, Saudi Arabia has both those attributes: Exhibit A and Exhibit B.
And please, cut the crap about Venezuela being a security risk to the USA. What’s happening there isn’t nice, but it’s also internal nastiness and not an external security threat. It bears pointing out that this is in distinct contrast to Saudi Arabia, which has proven itself to be a breeding ground for terrorists.
It’s not a surprise Venezuela is coming up again in US Establishment politics. First, the regime there is looking increasingly shaky. Second, there’s presently an oil glut (which is in fact a big part of why the regime is losing its popularity). That means that if worse comes to worst, the ruling class won’t be provoking a big oil shortage if the US loses access to Venezuela’s oil as the spat escalates. In fact, I’m sort of surprised that it’s taken this long for the ruling class to bring the issue up again.
But please, get real. The issue isn’t human rights (as much as the US ruling elite might assert it is). It’s merely that someone other than who the ruling elite desires is in power there. Just look at what’s happened in Honduras since the US ruling class installed a regime there if you have any doubts about that.