President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview this week that he would never consider buying oil from socialist Venezuela, calling such a deal – which U.S. President Joe Biden is reportedly considering – akin to “nourishing the devil.”
In a wide-ranging interview in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, Giammattei also suggested that rumored talks about lifting American sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry may be related to what he described as inaction on the part of the Biden administration in the face of drug traffickers flying planes full of product into America out of the Caribbean nation.
Reports began surfacing in March, later confirmed by Venezuelan socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, that Biden had sent a delegation to Venezuela for talks with the regime. America does not recognize Maduro as the president of Venezuela given that he formally lost that title after a sham election in 2019. Maduro confirmed again this week that the Biden administration representatives had met with a senior regime official in Caracas.
Giammattei, a hardline conservative, is visiting the U.S. for several engagements, including a meeting with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a leadership summit at the Organization of American States, and an address to the 2022 International Religious Freedom Summit:
Durante el inicio de mi gira de trabajo en Washington, sostuve un diálogo constructivo con @SecMayorkas, secretario de @DHSgov. Estrechamos relaciones bilaterales y abordamos temas de la agenda estratégica común, el combate al crimen transnacional y al tráfico ilegal de personas. pic.twitter.com/qWLbcRHRyo
— Alejandro Giammattei (@DrGiammattei) June 28, 2022
Giammetti is one of a dwindling number of conservative leaders in the Americas after the elections of leftists Biden, Chilean President Gabriel Boric, Argentine President Alberto Fernández, Colombian President-elect Gustavo Petro, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, and Bolivian President Luis Arce. In Central America, Guatemala shares the region with one of the most brutal dictatorships in the hemisphere, the communist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
Asked about the challenge of running Guatemala as a conservative, Giammattei laughed and replied, “Very difficult – it’s hard! But we’re moving, struggling for what we believe, what we really believe. For our principles.”
“I’ll give you an example. I could see myself [struggling] with many needs, but I would not make a pact with the devil,” Giammattei told Breitbart News. “Going to buy oil from Venezuela, from Maduro who has committed crimes against the Venezuelan people, who has the biggest immigration [crisis], that is negotiating with the devil and that is breaking with [my] principles.”
“If I believe in democracy,” the president concluded, “Maduro can have petroleum and I could have need, but I wouldn’t buy a gallon. I wouldn’t buy it for a simple reason: I would be nourishing the devil.”
Giammattei observed elsewhere in the interview that Venezuela is a major hub of drug trafficking and questioned why American officials appeared not to act sufficiently to prevent drugs from entering the United States from the South American country.
Years of evidence compiled by the American government and transnational crime experts implicates nearly every single senior Maduro regime official in drug trafficking, particularly cocaine. Diosdado Cabello, who runs Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), has repeatedly been identified as the head of the Cartel de los Soles, a cocaine trafficking organization run from within the Venezuelan military. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a fugitive alert in 2019 for Maduro’s oil minister, Tareck El Aissami, on charges of having “facilitated shipments of narcotics from Venezuela, to include control over planes that left from a Venezuelan air base and drug routes through the ports in Venezuela.”
Two of Maduro’s nephews, Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas and Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, were sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2017 for attempting to smuggle cocaine into New York.
“The fault is here,” the Guatemalan president said of the United States in relation to the transnational drug problem, “and I will explain why. 50 percent of the drugs consumed in the world are consumed here.”
“When we see every day the planes come down in Venezuela – which, it is known that in Venezuela is where the planes come down, which, there are negotiations with Maduro now, I hope they negotiate so that planes don’t leave with drugs from there,” Giammattei continued, “but 95 percent of the planes land in Venezuela and they come empty. They don’t bring money, they come empty and they fly with drugs. Where is the money? Here.”
“Why, if we know where the planes leave from, why has the United States done nothing to stop planes from leaving from Venezuela?” Giammattei asked. “Ah! They are negotiating oil.”
Reports first surfaced in March that Biden representatives had traveled to Caracas to discuss buying Venezuelan oil as a means of offsetting high gasoline prices in America and replacing supplies of Russian oil. Much of the Western world stopped buying Russian oil following Moscow’s escalation of its eight-year invasion of Ukraine in February. Venezuela is heavily indebted to Russia, however, meaning any oil profits the Maduro regime would see would likely fund the Russian government.
Following the reports in March, Biden administration officials told establishment reports in May that the White House would allow negotiations between the American oil company Chevron and the Maduro regime, “temporarily lifting a U.S. ban on such discussions,” according to Reuters.
“It does not allow (Chevron) entry into any agreement with PDVSA or any other activity involving PDVSA,” anonymous Biden officials reportedly claimed at the time. “So fundamentally what they’re doing is just allowed to talk.”
Nicolás Maduro himself revealed on Monday that Biden had sent a second delegation to meet with his officials this weekend.
“I am in communication with Jorge Rodríguez. He is currently receiving a delegation from the U.S.,” Maduro said, referring to the head of the socialist-controlled National Assembly. “An important delegation from the government of the U.S. that has arrived in Venezuela two hours ago. And he is working to continue communications initiated on March 5 and to continue the bilateral agenda.”
Giammattei has been one of Latin America’s staunchest opponents of the Venezuelan regime. As one of his first acts in office in 2020, Giammattei cut Guatemala’s diplomatic ties to Maduro, months after Maduro blocked him from visiting Venezuela to meet its legitimate but powerless president, Juan Guaidó.