Amid warnings that the Trump administration is actively seeking to topple the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday spoke out against the U.S. government’s “long history of intervening inappropriately in Latin America” even as he criticized Maduro for his violent crackdown on opposition protesters and violations of the country’s constitution.

“The Maduro government in Venezuela has been waging a violent crackdown on Venezuelan civil society, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly and was re-elected last year in an election that many observers said was fraudulent,” Sanders said in a statement. “Further, the economy is a disaster and millions are migrating.”

Sanders continued by saying the U.S. while “should support the rule of law, fair elections and self-determination for the Venezuelan people,” it must also “condemn the use of violence against unarmed protesters and the suppression of dissent” in the country.

“However,” he added, “we must learn the lessons of the past and not be in the business of regime change or supporting coups—as we have in Chile, Guatemala, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. The United States has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries; we must not go down that road again.”

Prior to Sanders’ statement on Thursday, as Common Dreams reported, more than 70 activists and scholars issued an open letter condemning recent moves by the Trump administration—including its decision earlier this week to officially recognize the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the “Interim President” of the country.

While the letter acknowledged the very real and difficult domestic conflict within Venezuela, it stated: “In such situations, the only solution is a negotiated settlement, as has happened in the past in Latin American countries when politically polarized societies were unable to resolve their differences through elections.”

Standing against further outside agitation from the U.S., the signers called for “international actors” to instead “support negotiations between the Venezuelan government and its opponents that will allow the country to finally emerge from its political and economic crisis.”

While Sanders has yet to announce whether or not he’ll run for president in 2020, In These Times this week has been tracking the reactions to the situation in Venezuela by declared or likely Democratic candidates.

“Of the major Democrats or progressives who have declared–or are expected to–only [Democratic Congresswomen from Hawaii] Tulsi Gabbard  and Bernie Sanders have made statements,” the left-leaning outlet reported Thursday.

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