Justice Dept indicts for Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro for narco related charges
AG William Barr Wednesday announced charges of narco terrorism against Maduro and a $15m reward for intel leading to his arrest and conviction of Maduro
Four Maduro aides ware also indicted the Venezuela leader on similar charges by the US Department of Justice
Maduro, who has been in power since 2013 debunked the charges on Twitter, calling them a ‘conspiracy’
AG William Barr hits President Nicolas Maduro with US ‘narco-terrorism’ charges: The US DOJ announced Thursday that it has indicted Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro [photo], and several key aides on charges of narco-terrorism
The US Department of Justice announced Thursday that it has indicted Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, and several key aides on charges of narco-terrorism.
Attorney General William Barr announced the charges against Maduro, who already faces US sanctions and has been the target of a US effort aimed at pushing him from power.
Justice Department offered a reward of up to $15million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Maduro, who has been in power since 2013.
AG Barr accused has president Maduro and his associates of conspiring with a dissident faction of the leftist Colombian guerrilla group FARC ‘to flood the United States with cocaine’.
Tareck el-Aissami [left], was appointed Vee-P last month by President Nicolas Maduro [Right] US sanctions Venezuela new vice-president over ‘narco’ trafficking […]
Maduro responded to the charges on Twitter, saying: ‘There’s a conspiracy from the United States and Colombia and they’ve given the order of filling Venezuela with violence.
‘As head of state I’m obliged to defend peace and stability for all the motherland, under any circumstances.’
With the mounting pressure of the global coronavirus pandemic and political crises from a recent botched presidential elections, analysts said the action may have been designed to boost Trump’s re-election appeal in the key swing state of Florida, where Venezuelans, Cubans and Nicaraguans fleeing authoritarian regimes have political muscle. Donald Trump the state by a narrow margin in 2016
However, it is unclear how it brings Venezuela any closer to ending a 15-month standoff between Maduro, who has the support of Russia and China, and the US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
It also could fragment the US-led coalition against Maduro if European and Latin American allies think the Trump administration is overreaching.
The US govt is also offering a $10million reward for information leading to the arrest of four members of the Maduro administration, highlighted [bottom left]
Maduro, a 57-year-old former bus driver, portrays himself as an every man icon of the Latin American left.
He’s long accused the US ’empire’ of looking for any excuse to take control of the world’s largest oil reserves, likening its plotting to the 1989 invasion of Panama and the removal of Gen Manuel Noriega to face drug trafficking charges in Florida.
Venezuelan president expelled U.S. Charge d’Affaires Todd Robinson and his deputy, Brian Naranjo, over election sabotage allegations “The empire doesn’t […]
Nearly forty years later, Barr and Elliott Abrams, the State Department’s special envoy on Venezuela, are driving the hawkish US stance toward Maduro much as they pushed for the ouster of Panama’s Noriega in the late 1980s — Barr as a senior Justice Department official and Abrams as assistant secretary of state for Latin America at the time.
US officials see other parallels as well. Noriega transformed Panama into a playground for violent, international drug cartels while the Trump administration has accused Maduro and his military henchmen of harboring drug traffickers, guerrillas from Colombia and even Hezbollah, a designated terrorist group.
They also have accused government officials and their well-connected cronies in the business sectors of stealing hundreds of billions of dollars from the state coffers, much of it from state oil giant PDVSA, which has seen its production plunge to a seven-decade low.
Still, charging Maduro was no easy task. Sitting foreign leaders normally enjoy immunity from prosecution under US law and international norms.
But the US is among 60 countries that no longer consider Maduro a head of state even if he does hold de facto power.
These countries instead recognize Guaidó, the head of congress, as Venezuela’s rightful leader following the socialist’s re-election in a 2018 race marred by allegations of fraud and an opposition boycott.
The botched elections rife with accusations of electoral malpractice ostensibly saw Guaidó leading in the polls, but to the surprise of many Maduro has stubbornly clung to power, withstanding months of street protests last year and even a US-backed military revolt.
In the aftermath millions of Venezuelans have left the country, fleeing hyperinflation and widespread food shortages.
With support on the streets for Guaidó fading, the Trump administration raised the ante last fall, withdrawing support for a Norway-sponsored mediation effort and extending sanctions so that even foreign companies faced retaliation for extending Maduro a lifeline.
Maduro [right], has long accused the US ’empire’ of political interference in the politics of his country with the ultimate aim of seizing control of the world’s largest oil reserves
The evidence against Maduro was collected over several years by investigators in Miami, New York, Houston and Washington who have brought drug trafficking, foreign bribery and money-laundering charges against several senior Venezuelan officials, members of the military and government-connected businessmen.
Much of those probes have focused on PDVSA, which is the source of practically all of Venezuela’s export revenue.
Last year, the US sanctioned PDVSA, barring Americans from doing business with the oil giant.
Separately, Barr, echoing calls from Sen Marco Rubio, [R-Fla], prioritized investigations into Maduro’s inner circle, according to two people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal Justice Department deliberations.
The pressure to deliver, the people said, went into overdrive around the time when Guaidó visited Washington in February and Trump praised him as his guest at the State of the Union address as ‘a very brave man, who carries with him the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all Venezuelans’.