In March 2020, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office accused Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro of drug trafficking and offered a $15 million reward for his arrest and conviction. Since then, many things have changed, most of them in favor of Maduro and against the millions of Venezuelans who suffer from hunger, exile, prison or death.
By The Hill – Arturo McFields Yescas
Nov 17, 2022
Recently, on Nov. 7, Maduro walked over the red carpet of the UN climate summit COP27 in Egypt, shaking hands with French President Emmanuel Macron and the U.S. Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
Also, during the Paris Peace Forum, Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro said that in order to revitalize the Mexican Talks on Venezuela, it is critical to eliminate sanctions, promote a general amnesty and a pact of coexistence to ensure elections in the country.
And recently, former presidents Michel Bachelet (Chile), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), José Mujica (Uruguay), Dilma Rousseff (Brazil) and Ernesto Samper (Colombia), sent a letter to Maduro inviting him to promote the South American unity by relaunching UNASUR.“In times of crisis and adversity the experience and wisdom of the leaders is especially necessary. We trust in your vision to make South América a driving force for a new level of unity and integration in Latin América,” the letter states.
With that said, there are important reasons for why we cannot give the Venezuelan dictatorship a blank check:
Maduro blacklisted for human trafficking
In July 2022, the United States included Venezuela on the human trafficking blacklist. This means that Maduro does not comply with the minimum standards to combat human trafficking and protect the victims of it. Similarly, the United Nations has reported that the migratory crisis in Venezuela exceeds 7.1 million individuals who are fleeing desperately due to the manmade crisis provoked by Maduro.
The Venezuelan regime has been sanctioned for drug trafficking
The Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned Maduro in 2017 and in 2020, the Justice Department charged him with crimes related to narco-terrorism and drug trafficking. The illegitimate Maduro regime has facilitated widespread corruption and fueled hyperinflation, leading to negative economic growth, a humanitarian crisis, as well as widespread difficulty to access basic goods and services, including food, energy and potable water. Let’s not forget this is happening in a country with one of the largest oil reserves in the world.
Crimes against humanity neither prescribe nor are subject to amnesties
In recent days Human Rights Watch (HRW) has noted that amnesties and pardons can never be used in cases of crimes against humanity. Those responsible, including authorities at the highest level, must be duly investigated and punished. HRW has also stated that “since 2020, the United Nations International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela, an independent group of experts, has reported finding reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela. Most recently, in September 2022, the Mission reported that intelligence services committed such crimes following orders from high-level authorities, including Nicolás Maduro, in accordance with a ‘plan’ to repress government opponents.”
Maduro is to blame for the worst ecocide in the history of Venezuela
According to local NGO SOS Orinoco, during the last nine years the regime has devastated large portions of the Amazon region and it has violated the rights of indigenous peoples to carry out gold exploration and exploitation of other precious metals. While Maduro has a great business of blood gold. This nonstop ecocide has cost thousands of hectares of land in Venezuela.
Political prisoners rotting in jail for opposing dictator
According to reports by Foro Penal and various human rights bodies, more than 15,770 people have been detained for political reasons since 2014 and at least 258 remain incarcerated. Maduro has denied UN observers the possibility to visit the country and ensure prisoners the minimum humanitarian conditions established under the Nelson Mandela Laws.
The dictatorship is a threat to U.S. national security
In March, the United States extended for another year Executive Order 13692 and subsequent executive orders issued with respect to Venezuela, noting that the situation in Venezuela has not improved and continue “to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
In April, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) highlighted her concern about the links between Venezuela and the Iranian regime.
“For years, the Iranian and Venezuelan regimes have bonded over their hatred for the United States. Iran has recruited Venezuela as its proxy for terror, even supplying their government with advanced drones to use against the U.S., Colombia, and Jewish communities throughout the Western Hemisphere,” she said.
As of now, the dictatorship of Venezuela has not changed any of its actions against its people. So, why the world should give Maduro a red carpet, a strong handshake and full amnesty? I believe that dialogue is important to help return democracy, not to oxygenate dictators, to uphold justice and the rule of law, not to promote impunity, to empower the people’s rights and not the abuses of a dictatorship. This kind of dialogue is a great opportunity for peace lets give it a chance.