Washington, D.C. – The Justice Department announced on March 26th that they’ll be offering a $15 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro.
The charges the DOJ has brought forth are related to narcoterrorism, according to Attorney General Bill Barr.
Feds charge Venezuelan President Maduro, other top officials with narco-terrorism https://t.co/DpKWLZzdQP
— Miami Herald (@MiamiHerald) March 26, 2020
AG Barr unveiled the news via a digital press conference for the DOJ, where he alleged that Maduro has been conspiring with the leftist Colombian guerrilla faction called FARC to unleash literal tons of cocaine throughout the United States:
“We estimate that somewhere between 200 and 250 metric tons of cocaine are shipped out of Venezuela by these routes. Those 250 metric tons equates to 30 million lethal doses.”
Justice Dept. Charges Fmr. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with Narco-Terrorism, Drug-Trafficking & Other Criminal Charges #RicoTheDems #ArrestThemAllNow #ImpeachObamasJudges https://t.co/w3I9nJudr3 #news #feedly
— Keith Westbrook (@kcjw33) March 26, 2020
The release of the indictment is sure to ruffles some feathers, especially with so much going on with the current pandemic.
Not to mention, Maduro also has the support of both China and Russia as well. If the U.S.’s allies in Europe and Latin America, who are part of a US-led alliance against Maduro, think the indictment is going too far then that coalition could become damaged.
Roberta Jacobson, a former State Department diplomat for Latin America, stated the following about the revealed indictment:
“This kind of action does nothing to help a negotiated solution—something that’s already really difficult.”
President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela was indicted in the United States in a narco-terrorism and cocaine trafficking conspiracy in which prosecutors said he led a violent drug cartel even as he amassed power. https://t.co/a5h7fjx6hc
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) March 26, 2020
Maduro has been highly critical of the United States over time, and has labeled the country as seeking any reason to forcibly take ahold of the world’s largest oil haven.
This indictment will likely serve as more fodder for Maduro to peddle those very same conspiracy theories about the United States.
The indictment carries some remarkable parallels to the 1989 indictment of Manuel Noriega, too.
Consider that Noriega was indicted in Florida for charges of racketeering, drug smuggling, and money laundering. He also happened to be the leader of Panama from 1983 to 1989 when the U.S. sought to charge and extradite him. If Maduro is captured and convicted as Noriega was, then that too would create a form of a political void in the country they oversaw.
U.S. brings drug trafficking charges against Venezuelan President #NicolasMaduro and several others, accusing them of trying ‘to flood the United States with cocaine,’ and offered a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of #Maduro #Venezuela pic.twitter.com/RvySdHmOvZ
— DailyNewsf (@DailyNe25683877) March 26, 2020
Of course, the other obvious likeness between Maduro and Noriega is that both countries became a hotbed for drugs when they came to power.
The DOJ have also claimed government officials within Venezuela have forged ties with business men toting a healthy amount of clout who’ve stolen hundreds of billions of dollars from the state funds. From what the DOJ claims, a lion’s share of those funds came directly from PDVSA, an oil company within the country.
While some could claim that Maduro can’t be touched by the United States due to him being the sitting president, that’s not how the United States sees things.
From a U.S. perspective, Maduro lost power back in 2018 when Juan Guaidó won a special election in December of that year. The U.S. isn’t alone in that observation either, as 59 other countries recognize Guaidó as the leader of the socialist country.
The investigation into Maduro has been taking place for several years, which was done in tandem with investigating those in Maduro’s inner circle as well.
These investigations that had transpired saw charges levied against those close to Maduro that include drug trafficking, foreign bribery and money-laundering charges.
From what the investigations have unveiled, everything seems to trace back to or connect with PDVSA. Which that is hardly surprising, considering that oil is Venezuela’s number one export. In turn, the United States forbade any U.S. based company from doing business with PDVSA as of 2019.
So, how has this Maduro character managed to stay in power despite there being someone else elected?
Even after months of protests and U.S. military backing to help enact the rightful leader, many of those who helped elect Guaidó are simply trying to leave the country. With the shortages of food and varying levels of inflation, people are beginning to lose hope within the Venezuela.
In 30 years looking back, the people who defended the children-starver monster Nicolas Maduro will be on the definite wrong side of history. pic.twitter.com/pecKHLVN0h
— Kareem Rifai (@KareemRifai) March 26, 2020
A former official from the Pentagon, Frank Mora, believes that the United States has every right to go after Maduro. When reviewing the rationale for the indictments, Mora concurred Venezuela has become a cesspool of corruption and crime.
However, he does carry concerns that the spirit of the indictment will get swept up in misinterpretation:
“We’re not going to go in and capture him. This isn’t about regime change or restoring democracy to Venezuela. It’s about electoral politics.”
While the effort may not be for the sake of a regime change, if an arrest takes place, then a regime change transpires as a result.
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