Amid the strongest anti-leftist efforts Venezuela has seen since the rise of Nicolás Maduro in 2013, reports of potential talks between Maduro’s rogue regime and Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó have alarmed Venezuelans who remember the failed talks of 2015-2016.
Such talks may undermine American efforts to help weaken the drug traffickers and jihadists associated with Maduro.
Recent reports from Norwegian outlet NRK claim secret talks have begun in Oslo and Havana between Maduro and the “opposition.” Those allegedly attending these meetings are regime propagandist Jorge Rodríguez, United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) henchman Héctor Rodríguez, and “opposition” former congressmen Gerardo Blyde, Fernando Martínez Mottola, and Stalin González [VP of the National Assembly].
Responding to the report, President Guaidó said no negotiations occurred, but he still sent negotiators. “We went. Yes, we went. But of course, not to engage in anything,” said at the press meeting.
These non-negotiations inspire concerns that an arrangement will be made to keep the socialist system as it is, with the simple replacement of Guaidó as the head of the government and some minor changes. Many of Maduro’s top repressors may survive the change with a pardon and the talks may even yield a “normalization of relations” with the criminal Castro regime in Cuba, according to Guaidó.
Exacerbating these worries was a tweet sent by National Security Advisor John Bolton directed at Armed Forces leader Vladimir Padrino López, Chavista Supreme Court head Maikel Moreno, and Iván Hernández Dala, the head of the DGCIM (Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence). “Accept Interim President Guaidó’s amnesty, protect the Constitution, and remove Maduro, and we will take you off our sanctions list,” Bolton wrote.
Bolton’s offer is part of an “amnesty law” passed by Guaidó’s National Assembly. The law offers a wipe-out of any criminal record, an end to criminal investigations, and impunity to Maduro regime figures who defect. The law can pardon anyone, from Padrino López, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of protesters, to a known drug lord like Hugo “El Pollo” Carvajal, a high-ranking military official who evidence revealed once conspired to import 5.6 ton of cocaine to the U.S. and is currently “cooperating with” Guaidó.
Another dangerous condition later reaffirmed by the new multilateral “International Contact Group for Venezuela” was to have elections before ousting Maduro, remaking the Nicaragua case, where communist Daniel Ortega made a pact with Violeta Chamorro and several other hard Marxist leaders — only to calm the waters, let the “opposition” fail, and ultimately return to power.
These negotiations will stunt a systematic change in the political infrastructure of Venezuela. Without this change, narco-terrorist organizations like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) will still be protected in Venezuela, the Cartel that controls the Bolivarian Armed Forces called “Cartel de los Soles” (“Cartel of the Suns,” named after the Venezuelan military uniform’s sun medallion) will still operate, and Islamic terrorist organizations like Hezbollah will remain active there, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has acknowledged.
The Colombian narco-Communist paramilitary forces massively export drugs to the U.S. and serve as Maduro’s military allies. Hezbollah, like the Colombian paramilitaries, focuses on drug trade, but also on money laundering, gun running, strategic assistance, and military training in Venezuela and at the “tri-border area” of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. The Suns Cartel will still be hostile to the U.S. through drug trade and the systematic financing, protection, and training of Islamic and Communist terrorist proxies. All of them operate together across the region, according to former DOS adviser Matthew Levitt.
All these organizations are greatly dangerous to Americans. They represent a continental political project based on Marxism, radical Islam and drug-trafficking exemplified by the Foro de São Paulo, a transnational organization created by dictator Fidel Castro and former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva.
An American soft power strategy will drastically fail against Marxists, druglords, jihadists and their enabling corrupt elite. Instead, Trump should pursue new Venezuelan allies and new options, making clear he is protecting American interests first.
Rafael Valera is the Communications Director of the Venezuelan conservative movement Rumbo Libertad.