Asked If She Denounces Maduro Regime in Venezuela, Ocasio-Cortez Attacks Elliott Abrams

March 4, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) didn't respond directly to a question Monday about whether to denounce the autocratic Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela, but she took it as an opportunity to attack U.S. special envoy Elliott Abrams.

At a press conference for her new congressional office's opening in Queens, a reporter inquired about the situation unfolding in Venezuela. The country's economy has collapsed under Maduro socialism, leading to food and medicine shortages and violent crackdowns against protests by his government.

"As a democratic socialist, I'm wondering what are your thoughts on the Venezuelan crisis happening right now and if you would denounce the Maduro regime?" a reporter asked.

Ocasio-Cortez said it was a "complex issue" and important to approach the humanitarian crisis there "very carefully."

"I think it's important that any solution that we have centers the Venezuelan people and centers the democracy of Venezuelan people first," she said. "I am very concerned about U.S. interventionism in Venezuela, and I oppose it, especially when we talk about a figure like U.S. special envoy Elliott Abrams here. He's pled guilty to several crimes related to Iran-Contra."

"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," she added.

The Trump administration is pressuring Maduro to step down after a re-election widely considered a scam that circumvented the Venezuelan constitution. The United States and dozens of other countries have backed Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela's National Assembly, as the country's rightful interim president and condemned Maduro as a dictator.

Maduro has the support of such countries as China and Russia, with the latter accusing the U.S. of preparing a military intervention to install Guaido, according to Reuters.

Ocasio-Cortez's broadside at Abrams comes after a fellow left-wing freshman lawmaker, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), attacked him as a genocide-promoting, amoral interventionist at a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing last month. She called him "Mr. Adams" at the outset of her questioning and, as anti-Trump columnist Max Boot put it, read "haltingly from a sheet of paper" that seemed like it was pulled from Al Jazeera.

Ocasio-Cortez praised Omar's questioning for feeling like "justice." Abrams pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress concerning the Reagan-era scandal and was later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush.

Omar has accused the Trump administration of backing a "coup" in Venezuela to install "far right opposition." Guaido's party is considered center-left. She retweeted Venezuelan and Russian state media in the aftermath of calling the popular opposition to Maduro a "coup."