Maduro is about as legitimate a leader of all Venezuelans as any apartheid president could claim to be of all South Africans. He rigged the polls, banned the opposition and seized control of the electoral and judicial institutions

“Imagine,” a Western diplomat from a leading investor nation in SA told me recently, “if we had said during the struggle for democracy here: ‘It’s not our business’. And if we had added to this that the future of SA cannot be determined by outsiders, least of all by those from the West. “There might be terrible violations of human rights in the country, but that is for the government and the people of SA to sort out.” Of course, the ANC in exile in the 1980s and 1990s took a radically different view of things. Whatever their limitations on the battlefields and on the front line states surrounding apartheid SA, its diplomatic pressures on the West were hugely effective. It lobbied successfully for the imposition of sanctions; and it persuaded the US Congress to over-ride the presidential veto and introduce the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act. It used its international leverage, and moral suasion, to ensure that even the more reluctant economic actors with clout, Britain and West Ger...

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