President Donald Trump surprised the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday when he remarked that the collapsing situation in Venezuela was not due to the poor implementation of socialism, but rather its successful implementation.
"The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented," he said.
Trump paused, and there was audible muttering in the chamber before some tepid applause broke out.
"From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure," he said.
Trump said, as a responsible neighbor and friend, the U.S. had a goal for the Venezuelans to recover their freedom and "restore their democracy."
Venezuela has collapsed under the repressive socialist regime of President Nicholas Maduro. Maduro has cracked down on political opponents, held a rigged election and effectively sidelined Venezuela's parliament, and his security forces have killed citizens at mass protests.
Starvation has gotten so bad that the government has urged citizens to eat rabbits in the midst of its food crisis. Venezuela's turn toward socialism under Hugo Chavez and Maduro has led to the country's woes, most economists agree, as price controls and the nationalization of private companies led to food and medicine shortages.
Trump said Monday the U.S. was prepared to intervene if the country's deterioration continued.