More than 40 countries, including most in Europe and South America, now support opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela, virtually isolating the autocratic regime of Nicolas Maduro. You wouldn't know that from listening to the rhetoric of the Trump administration and some of its leftwing critics, which often cast the United States as the instigator of the ongoing crisis. That's not the case, and if the cause of ousting Venezuela's illegitimate regime and ending its humanitarian catastrophe is to succeed, the Trump administration must take care not to let the United States become the protagonist of this drama.

President Donald Trump reportedly has been concerned by the ongoing implosion of Venezuela since early in his administration. But the key initiatives that have led to the rise of Guaido were taken by Canada and a dozen Latin American nations, which in 2017 formed the Lima Group to address the crisis. Last month, the group announced it would not recognize Maduro's inauguration for a new term as president, because his election had been fraudulent. That inspired the Venezuelan National Assembly to unite behind Guaido, whose subsequent declaration as interim president is grounded in the constitution.

The Trump administration joined those countries in recognizing Guaido and has since taken powerful steps to strip the Maduro government of resources, including $7 billion in Venezuelan state assets in the United States and up to $11 billion in annual oil revenues - a sum that covers more than 90 percent of what the country spends on imports. It has supported Guaido's call for the armed forces to switch sides. It's a high-risk strategy that could fail if the generals fail to respond and Maduro hunkers down with the support of Cuba, Russia, China and the handful of other governments that still support him.

That's why the administration should work closely with the Lima Group and avoid separating itself from the regional consensus. Trump and several top aides stray from that consensus when they suggest that U.S. military intervention remains "an option," as the president put it in an interviewthat aired Sunday. Not only has that course been rejected by the Lima Group, but also it is unrealistic; talk of it only alienates Latin Americans who otherwise support Maduro's ouster. Similarly, U.S. rhetoric tends to focus on urging action by the Venezuelan military, while the Lima Group and European nations stress the need for a peaceful transition and new democratic elections. The latter is a better focus.

The Trump administration is pursuing the right course in supporting an attempt by the Guaido administration to deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid. The effort, to which the United States has pledged $20 million, involves stockpiling supplies of food and medicine in Colombia, Brazil and a Caribbean location near Venezuela's borders, in the hope that the military and security forces will allow it into the country for distribution. If that happens, Venezuelans will receive desperately needed relief, and the Maduro regime will be further undermined. If not, the dire shortages afflicting 30 million people will soon grow far worse, with unpredictable consequences.

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