Offensive to eliminate ‘chavismo’

Nicolás Maduro, president of Venezuela

Nicolas Maduro's head has already been priced: $15 million, the fourth highest ever offered by the United States, after the liquidated Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden ($25 million), his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri ($25 million), and Mexican drug trafficker Rafael Caro ($20 million). The U.S. State Department could still raise the reward, both for him and for the number two in the Chavista regime, Diosdado Cabello, and for the defence minister, General Vladimir Padrino, for whom it would pay $10 million, the same amount, incidentally, that it offered for the already eliminated leader of Daesh, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 

Dead or alive? For the moment, the State Department only wants information leading to his arrest, and for him to be able to appear before a U.S. court, accused of having created a drug trafficking network with the purpose of flooding the United States with cocaine. The plot, nicknamed the Suns' Cartel (after the insignia worn, instead of stars, by the high commands of the Bolivarian Armed Forces), backed by supplies from former FARC narco-guerrillas, would have already introduced hundreds of tons into U.S. territory, and whose enormous profits would have made Maduro and the other accused billionaires. The immense fortunes of these Bolivarian revolutionaries are spread throughout the world, laundered in large part through assets of all kinds, mainly real estate. 

William Barr, the U.S. Attorney General, charges Maduro, who he accuses as the head of the Cartel de los Soles, and thirteen other prominent members or former members of Chavism, some of whom later became dissidents of Bolivarian socialism. Among the latter are two former generals: Hugo 'el Pollo' Carvajal, former director of Military Intelligence, and Clíver Alcalá, major general of the Army. 

Two testimonies that will be fundamental

Carvajal, a refugee in Spain, vanished while his extradition to Washington was being processed, although various Venezuelan opposition media in exile continued to place him somewhere in the Iberian Peninsula in late March. 

As for Clíver Alcalá, who last week had also been accused by Caracas of preparing a coup d'état in collusion with the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, he preferred to turn himself in to the Colombian authorities and have them put him on a plane to the US capital. Alcalá stated before handing himself over that he was willing to testify against Maduro, Cabello and Padrino, which automatically makes him a specially protected witness. His deposition in court, as well as the hypothetical one of 'Chicken' Carvajal, is supposed to be devastating enough for narco-terrorist inmates to spend several lifetimes in high security prisons, perhaps in the company of former, cunning and allegedly all-powerful traffickers such as Mexican drug lord 'Chapo' Guzman.

The offensive of Attorney General William Barr, in agreement, of course, with the State Department, is intended to deal the final blow to the Chavista regime, which is still supported by Cuba, China, Iran and Russia. It is precisely President Vladimir Putin who holds the reins of power in Venezuela, having in fact seized its dwindling oil production, and whose strongman in Caracas is coincidentally General Padrino. This move by the United States can therefore also be interpreted as a very serious warning to Russia. The same goes for Iran, whose 'delegate' in Venezuela is the also accused Minister of Industry and National Production, Tareck el Aissami, whom Prosecutor Barr also links to Hezbollah terrorists.

Nicolás Maduro and his allies must have foreseen the future so badly that in the middle of last week they sent a joint letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, urging him to “request the complete and immediate lifting of these illegal, coercive and arbitrary measures [international sanctions] of economic pressure”. The eight countries that have signed it, Venezuela plus China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, and Syria, are taking up the war against the “common enemy” that is the coronavirus to practically ask for plenary indulgence from the international community. It does not seem that they will get it, at least not this Lent.