Venezuelan socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro’s days are numbered because his inner circle has no personal loyalty towards him or his ideology, and, after last week’s military uprising, Maduro now knows it, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told Breitbart News in a conversation Tuesday.
Rubio, who has become one of the most prominent voices in Congress on the spread of communist ideology in 21st century Latin America and plays a key role advising the White House on Venezuela, added that Maduro’s decision to shut down three of the country’s private airports in the aftermath of the uprising led by legitimate Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó indicates he suspects at least some around him are plotting their betrayal.
Rubio claimed Maduro forced all those in his inner circle to take polygraph tests after they stood accused of negotiating their escape with the United States in exchange for helping end Maduro’s regime.
He lists among the most important players keeping the Maduro regime in power figures like Tareck El Aissami, considered Hezbollah’s representative in the country; cocaine kingpin Diosdado Cabello; and Delcy Rodríguez, who recently warned starved Venezuelans not to eat food sent by the United States because it allegedly contained “chemical weapons.” Maduro typically rotates those in power from job to job, so all three have been at one time Venezuela’s vice president. Rodríguez holds the position currently.
Unlike Maduro, most of his inner circle is not loyal to socialist/communist ideology, a key vulnerability for Maduro, according to Rubio.
“Maduro is most certainly ideological, I mean, he wants to transition Venezuela to a Cuban-style system of governance, one party. He spent a lot of time in Cuba; it’s the reason the Cubans wanted him to be [late dictator Hugo] Chávez’s successor: because he is committed to that model,” Rubio told Breitbart News. “But the majority of the people in his inner circle, the key people, the seven to eight people that really hold up the regime, are not ideological, to varying degrees, but not like him.”
“They are primarily motivated by keeping and continuing to make the millions of dollars that they make from corruption opportunities and providing for the safety and security of themselves and their families – staying out of jail and allowing their families to continue to enjoy their wealth at home and abroad,” he added.
“There is no loyalty to Maduro,” he argued. “[There] is basically loyalty to a system that is making them rich and has allowed their families to enjoy life and stay out of jail.”
Maduro may have long suspected this, Rubio said, but after Guaidó’s call to remove Maduro permanently on April 30, he can no longer ignore it.
Guaidó claimed last week, appearing at dawn Tuesday at a military airbase outside of Caracas, that military leaders had finally agreed to take orders from him. Guaidó legally became the president of Venezuela, and, thus, commander in chief of the armed forces, in January, but Maduro has refused to vacate the presidential palace, and his loyalists still control the nation’s top military positions. Maduro responded to Guaidó’s challenge by claiming his socialist troops had “nerves of steel” and sending repressive forces into the streets to attack and kill the peaceful protesters Guaidó galvanized. Maduro’s official troops and his street gangs, the colectivos, have killed five people at press time, among them, three teen minors. The youngest victim was 14 years old.
As the week progressed, both Guaidó and U.S. officials claimed that senior military leaders, among them Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino López, were ready to abandon Maduro and changed their minds at the last minute. Leopoldo López, the head of Guaidó’s Popular Will party and a recently escaped political prisoner, said in an interview this week, “Maduro can’t even trust whoever makes him coffee.”
U.S. officials have long suggested that Maduro stopped using Venezuelan troops for his personal security team, opting instead for Cubans.
Rubio confirmed that top Venezuelan officials have discussed leaving the regime with the Americans.
“The proof exists. They know that it exists. They know that Maduro has it through Cuban intelligence,” Rubio said. “He submitted a bunch of them to polygraph tests last week. Imagine coming in and hearing, ‘Everybody in my inner circle is going to have to take a polygraph test.'”
“The one thing that last Tuesday did long-term was expose an irreversible internal fracture,” Rubio said. “One thing I’m confident of is that almost every single one of these people on the inside realize that Maduro will never, ever be able to get the country stabilized.”
Rubio listed the seven members of the Venezuelan socialist regime with the most power:
- First lady Cilia Flores, a member of Maduro’s fraudulent lawmaking body, the “National Constituent Assembly” (ANC). Flores’s nephews were sentenced to 18 years in prison by a New York court for cocaine trafficking. They claimed the cocaine belonged to Diosdado Cabello.
- Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, a loyalist who has served as foreign minister, president of the ANC, and communications minister.
- Vice President Delcy Rodríguez’s brother, Jorge Rodríguez, current communications minister.
- Diosdado Cabello, ANC president and TV show host, who has held nearly every top job in the Chávez and Maduro regimes and is believed to be the head of the Cartel de los Soles, an intercontinental cocaine trafficking enterprise.
- Industries Minister Tareck El Aissami, who now controls the nation’s oil but has served as vice president and interior minister and is believed to operate on behalf of Hezbollah.
- Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino López, among those identified as ready to abandon Maduro.
- Minister of the Interior Nestor Reverol, accused, like others on this list, of a litany of human rights abuses while in power and indicted in 2016 by the Department of Justice for involvement in cocaine trafficking.
Rubio suggested that the Rodríguez siblings and, of course, the first lady, are too loyal to the communist ideology to turn on Maduro. But they are outnumbered, he said, by those who simply want to maintain their lavish lifestyles.
While Maduro may have considered his subordinates would betray him in the past, “the difference between now and last week is that Maduro now knows that for a fact,” Rubio argued. “He may not know the full extent of the details, but he is now well aware that there are a significant number of people in his own regime that were prepared to join or entertained joining an effort to oust him.”
“Today, the security forces seized three private airports in Venezuela,” Rubio noted Monday, “and that’s a very clear messages to elements in his [Maduro’s] own regime that if you move against me, and you fail, you’re not going to be able to get out of the country; you’re going to stay here and pay the price.”
“Some of them he can move against him immediately, some of them will have to wait, but those people have to realize now that they are Fredo Corleone in The Godfather,” he concluded. “They are going to be dealt with.”