(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a member of Democratic Socialists of America, sidestepped an opportunity Monday to condemn Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime in Venezuela.
She called the issue “complex” but then segued into an attack on U.S. “interventionism” – and special representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams.
Asked during a press conference in New York City for her thoughts – “as a democratic socialist” – on Venezuela, and whether she would “denounce the Maduro regime,” Ocasio-Cortez began, “So I think that this is absolutely a complex issue. I think it’s important that we approach this very carefully.”
She declared herself to be concerned about the humanitarian crisis, before targeting “interventionism” under the Trump administration.
“Myself, just like anyone else, is absolutely concerned with the humanitarian crisis that’s happening, and 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. I think it’s – he's pled guilty to several crimes related to Iran-Contra.”
“I don’t think that we should be – you know, 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," Ocasio-Cortez added, before moving to another questioner.
(Abrams, assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration, was convicted in 1991 of withholding information from Congress relating to the Iran-Contra affair, in which U.S. officials covertly enabled the sale of arms to Iran – in a bid to buy freedom for American hostages held by Iranian-backed terrorists in Lebanon – and channeled the money to Contra rebels fighting the leftist regime in Nicaragua. President George H.W. Bush pardoned him, and he went on to serve in the George W. Bush administration. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named Abrams special envoy in January.)
Critics say the socialist policies of Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, along with rampant corruption, have impoverished one of the hemisphere’s potentially most prosperous countries.
The U.S. and more than 50 other nations have recognized National Assembly head Juan Guaido as interim president, pending new elections.
Ocasio-Cortez and fellow freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) are both members of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Another newcomer in the House who gets a lot of attention, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has also aired provocative views about the situation in Venezuela.
She has characterized the Trump administration’s recognition of Guaido as interim president as “a US backed coup,” and called U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector “economic sabotage designed to force regime change.”
When Abrams appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last month to testify on Venezuela, Omar engaged him in a heated exchange, also bringing up his background.
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted afterwards that watching Omar, a refugee from Somalis who has “felt the ravages of war,” question Abrams, “feels like justice.”