Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaidó at a rally in Caracas, March 2019
Carlos Jasso / Reuters

On January 23, the Venezuelan National Assembly swore in 35-year-old Juan Guaidó as the country’s interim president. In the hours and days that followed, the United States and more than 50 other countries recognized Guaidó, declaring the regime of President Nicolás Maduro illegitimate. At the time, it seemed that Maduro’s government might collapse within days. It didn’t. Now, almost three months later, Venezuela has become even more of a failed state than it was before. Devastated by economic and humanitarian crises and a predatory government and military, the country is now locked in a standoff between two men claiming to be its rightful president.

Responsibility for the tragedy in Venezuela lies squarely at the feet of Maduro and his predecessor, former President Hugo Chávez. But the United States’ attempts to force regime change risk making things worse. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has tried

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  • CHRISTOPHER SABATINI is Executive Director of Global Americans, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and Non-Resident Fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute.
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