By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton
Amid all the political uproar here in the US, a headline concerning Venezuela surfaced that should be getting far more attention than it is currently. It’s being said that the Trump administration is prepping to add Venezuela to the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. That would be the right move and a good thing.
In South Florida, that is very welcome news to thousands of refugees who have fled Nicolas Maduro’s socialist/communist utopian dictatorship. The Trump administration would officially declare Venezuela an enemy of America – and they are. There’s a whole list of reasons why. This designation would put Venezuela on a list reserved for governments repeatedly accused of being “a state sponsor of terrorism,” like Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Sudan. Venezuela’s comrade, Cuba, fought and won removal from the notorious list in 2016 during the Obama administration. They should also be placed on that list.
Senator Marco Rubio has been ringing alarm bells over this for a long time. He should be commended for that. In fact, it’s rumored that President Trump is acting on Rubio’s advice on this. I hope is also getting counsel from Senator Ted Cruz. Rubio has savaged Maduro like a pitbull and rightly so. He tears into the power-hungry dictator who has made a mockery of his country’s democracy every chance he gets. Venezuelans blame Maduro for rampant corruption across the government and mishandling of the economy.
Over the past few years, Maduro has imprisoned scores of his political opponents. He has cracked down on growing street protests with lethal force. He repeatedly postponed regional government elections in order to stave off threats to his party’s power. And last year, he held a rigged election for a special legislative body that supplanted the country’s parliament — the one branch of government that was controlled by the political opposition.
Trump has heavily criticized Maduro in the past, and at one point openly considered a military invasion to overthrow him. in September, the Trump administration placed sanctions on many of Maduro’s allies, like the first lady and members of the regime’s top ranks.
And on November 1, National Security Adviser John Bolton gave a speech in which he listed Venezuela among a “Troika of Tyranny” — three countries that the US firmly opposes in Latin America. “Under President Trump, the United States is taking direct action against all three regimes to defend the rule of law, liberty, and basic human decency in our region,” Bolton said.
Emanuele Ottolenghi, an expert on Iranian terrorism at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington, told me that Caracas has longstanding ties to Hezbollah. The terrorist group had a base in the country, and the regime shares two joint banks with Iran that fund its and other operations.
The country is also a major throughway for narcotraffickers who move their products northward, Ottolenghi added. While he’s unsure that Venezuela has earned the designation of a state sponsor of terror, putting it on the list could prove useful in “breaking the back of the elites in power,” he said.
Those three countries would be Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
The strong ties between communist Cuba and Venezuela are evident:
Miguel Díaz-Canel, president of the Councils of State and Ministers, expressed his sorrow for the death in Havana of Alí
Rodríguez, Venezuela’s ambassador to Cuba and a prominent Bolivarian fighter.
Our heartfelt embrace goes to the Bolivarian family that suffers the loss of an exemplary revolutionary, Ali Rodriguez Araque, Ambassador of Venezuela in Cuba. Guerrilla, political, intellectual and Latin Americanist, already inseparable from Cuba. Until always, brother, the Cuban leader wrote in his Twitter account.
Rodríguez Araque died on Monday in Havana, where he had served as ambassador since 2014, before serving as Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur).
Rubio, a Cuban American who organized a letter in late September calling for the terrorism designation, has clamored for tough measures against Venezuela, a longtime backer of the Castro regime in Cuba. Communists of a feather. The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on a number of people in Maduro’s inner circle, accusing the first lady, the defense minister, vice president and other allies of helping the socialist leader “plunder” the nation’s wealth. And they have. While Venezuelans starve, Maduro and company are living high off the hog.
Rubio, John Cornyn of Texas, and Cory Gardner of Colorado wrote a letter lobbying Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to add Venezuela to the list, highlighting the regime’s links to US-designated foreign terrorist organizations, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) as well as to Hezbollah supporters. Many international drug traffickers also operate out of Venezuela. The left is claiming there is no solid proof of these ties which is just ludicrous.
“The crisis in Venezuela is dire and worsening every day,” the senators wrote. “The United States must use all available tools to protect the American homeland and our people from the Venezuelan dictatorship’s egregious support for terrorism and narcotrafficking. We strongly believe that the Maduro regime meets the criteria necessary to designate the current Venezuelan government as a state sponsor of terrorism.”
Sanctions are a great start but at some point, we will probably have to militarily intervene in Venezuela and other communist regimes down that way. They aren’t going away and they are linking up with Iran, Russia, North Korea, and China. Maduro is a clear and present danger to all of us, not just to his country. Hello Monroe Doctrine. The designation would limit our aid to Venezuela and tighten the economic noose by prohibiting any remaining financial transactions between the United States and Venezuela. Hopefully, there will also be an embargo on Venezuelan oil over all of this. In the end, Maduro needs to be ‘removed’.
Venezuela is also cozying up with Russia:
Venezuela is interested in Russia’s participation in gold exploration and mining on the territory of the Bolivarian Republic, Minister of Industries and National Production Tarek El Aissami said on Friday.
“We want Russia to participate in exploration and mining of gold and coltan in the country. Venezuela is finishing the certification process to confirm its status as a country with second or third largest gold deposits in the world,” Venezuela’s media quoted the minister as saying.
El Aissami noted that the agreement is planned to be signed on December 13. He added that Caracas and Moscow will continue to develop strategic cooperation. “Cooperation is aimed at protecting our national resources and interests,” he said.
On November 1 US President Donald Trump issued an executive order ordering sanctions on Venezuelan gold.
Russia has also sent a high-level official delegation to Venezuela, including a deputy finance minister, to help advise the cash-strapped country on economic reform. They don’t do that out of the goodness of their communist hearts. There will be strings. “Venezuela’s government asked (Russia) to send relevant employees from Russian government ministries to share their experience of economic reform,” said Andrei Lavrov, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance. You mean “communist economic reform.”
And the Chinese are in Venezuela too. They lent $5 billion to them… again, with strings. Minister Simon Zerpa told Bloomberg News that Venezuela would pay back the loan with either cash or oil. The countries were expected to sign what Zerpa described as a strategic alliance on gold mining. “Venezuela has a great alliance with China,” Zerpa. So, both Russia and China want Venezuela’s oil and gold. And the overall underlying theme is communism.
I am aware this would skyrocket tensions between our country, Venezuela, and others. Unfortunately, this will also hurt the people of Venezuela who are already starving to death and suffering under an oppressive communist dictatorship. Colombia is also suffering because Venezuelans are fleeing to their nation. Over 1 million refugees so far have gone there and they can’t handle that kind of influx in population. There are also disease outbreaks and the left is using that as an excuse not to deal with Venezuela. The exact opposite is even truer. You won’t stop the disease and the refugees unless you handle the root cause of the suffering… communism.
There is no love lost between President Trump and Maduro. That’s also a good thing and if I were Maduro I’d take Trump’s threat of military intervention to heart. Another smart move by Trump would be to team up with Brazil’s president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro. It would be a show of strength to Venezuela and might give them some pause in their communist-spreading military ways.
Bolsonaro contends that the people of Brazil – which was ruled by the military for two decades – “still don’t know what dictatorship is.” That is true – a brutal communist dictatorship is a whole different kind of animal. He said that Hungary “is a country that has suffered a lot with communism in the past, a people that know what dictatorship is.” “The Brazilian people still do not know what dictatorship is, do not know what it is to suffer at the hands of these people.”
The European Union also announced earlier this month it would extend its existing sanctions against Venezuela for a further year after accusing the regime of violating democracy and human rights.
A timeframe on the decision to add Venezuela to the terrorism list has not been established. All of this is still being bandied about. But there is no doubt that Trump would be within his executive powers to do this and he should. Venezuela is a communist regime that we are going to have to deal with sooner than later, just as Cuba and Nicaragua are. It’s time to dance down in South and Central America.