In the midst of Venezuela’s fight against Covid-19, the Trump Administration has taken a dramatic and unprecedented step in criminal maneuvers seeking to overthrow the Venezuelan government. It’s official: The United States opts for the outsourced route of armed violence, relying on a court case without evidence.
By Mision Verdad – March 27, 2020
A false accusation from the main narco-state on the planet
This Thursday, March 26, the attorney general of the United States, William Barr, filed charges for drug trafficking against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, the president of the National Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello, the Minister of Industry and Production Tareck El Aissami, the minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino López and the president of the Supreme Court of Justice Maikel Moreno.
In the absence of solid evidence, Justice Department prosecutors have appealed to a propaganda product that has been the spearhead of media attacks by the United States and Europe against Venezuela for several years: the non-existent “Cartel de los Soles”.
According to the Department of Justice, “since at least 1999, Maduro Moros, Cabello Rondón, Carvajal Barrios and Alcalá Cordones acted as leaders and managers of Cartel de los Soles (…) to facilitate the transport of tons of cocaine into the United States. The “Cartel de los Soles” sought not only to enrich its members and improve their power, but also to flood the United States with cocaine and inflict the harmful and addictive effects of the drug on the users of the United States.”
The alleged link with the FARC that has been the leitmotif of Colombia and the United States to accuse Venezuela of being a “sanctuary” for armed groups, is another of the central points of the accusation, including Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich:
“From around 1999 (…) the FARC leaders agreed with the leaders of the Cartel de los Soles to relocate some of the FARC operations in Venezuela under the protection of the Cartel. Later, the FARC and the Cartel of the Suns sent processed cocaine from Venezuela to the United States through transshipment points in the Caribbean and Central America, such as Honduras. In approximately 2004, the United States Department of State estimated that 250 or more tons of cocaine transited through Venezuela per year. Maritime shipments were shipped north from the Venezuelan coast using fast boats, fishing boats, and container ships.”
This is affirmed by the Justice Department, paradoxically suggesting that its drug trafficking prevention system is so ineffective that it cannot stop “fishing boats”.
The organic relationship of the United States with drug trafficking has been amply demonstrated:
- Antonio Maria Costa, director of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, stated in 2009 that capital from drug trafficking saved the bankrupt banks that caused the 2008 financial collapse, which had its epicenter in the United States.
- In 2012, the FBI found evidence that Mexican cartels “used Bank of America accounts to hide money and invest illegal drug proceeds in American racehorses.”
- That same year, it was also revealed that the Mexican cartel Los Zetas laundered its drug profits at the JP Morgan bank, making direct transfers from Mexico under an amalgam of funds and companies that also placed the authorities’ focus on the Wells Fargo bank.
All of these banks continue to function as if nothing had happened.
The proven permissiveness (and the logic of direct benefit) of the US financial system and its political elite with respect to international drug trafficking, blurs the accusations against Venezuela and their tone of supposed defense of American public health.
Just two years ago, Colombia broke records in the production and export of cocaine to the United States, figures that coincided with a dizzying increase in the number of consumers in the United States. On this, a DEA report revealed:
“Record levels of illicit cultivation and coca production in Colombia, which was the main source of cocaine seized and analyzed in the United States, has expanded the cocaine market, which has led to an increase in domestic abuse.”
The Justice Department tries to hold Venezuela responsible for the flood of cocaine in the United States, even though it has been demonstrated by its own anti-drug agency that the increase in consumption that affects millions of Americans lies in the uncontrolled production of Colombian cocaine.
They are also trying to position Venezuela as a “transit country” for cocaine to the United States, although data provided by the US government itself indicates otherwise.
A report from the Washington Office for Latin American Affairs (WOLA) study center concludes :
“About 90% of all cocaine destined for the United States is trafficked through the Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific routes, not through the Eastern Caribbean seas of Venezuela.”
A fake accusation
As an article from Mision Verdad ran down at the time, the narrative of the “Cartel de los Soles” is above all eccentric and inexplicable.
It has been promoted as a broad and dangerous organization, but there are no conditions to demonstrate it: there is no murderous fight between cartels like in Mexico or Colombia, a stash bearing the mark of this alleged organization has never been seized, neither has it been shown that the logistics of the Venezuelan army are being used to traffic drugs.
The ghostly “Cartel de los Soles” is a product for mass consumption that reinforces the narrative of the hawks and the most extreme sector of the Venezuelan right.
In this same chain of false premises, the Justice Department incurs in a fatal miscalculation: it places Maduro as the “leader” of the “organization” even when he is not a military man, and when he was just beginning his political career in 1999 after Hugo Chávez’s victory in 1998.
It is totally illogical that Venezuela is a narco-state led by Maduro and Diosdado Cabello. In 2010, according to a Wikileaks leak , the then-US ambassador to Venezuela, Patrick Duddy, wrote to the State Department acknowledging the extradition of drug trafficker Salomon “Big Daddy” Camacho by the Venezuelan authorities.
Venezuela has captured 102 drug lords of different nationalities (the largest proportion comes from Colombia), has reinforced seizures both on the border and by destroying illegal airstrips, and has shot down narco planes in national territory as a systematic anti-drug policy.
The narrative of the Department of Justice fails under the weight of these data.
Financing the assassination: deciding on the intervention routes
In the wake of the Justice Department’s fallacious accusation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed an official statement authorizing the offer of “a reward of up to $ 15 million for information related to Nicolás Maduro. The Department also offers rewards of up to $ 10 million each for information related to Diosdado Cabello, Hugo Carvajal Barrios, Alcalá Cordones and Tareck El Aissami.”
In this way, it can be deduced that the United States indirectly finances a covert military operation that could lead to the murder or kidnapping of high-level Venezuelan authorities, in a clear act of armed intervention against a sovereign State that contravenes the basic principles of international law.
By way of the facts, the United States makes official the assassination plan that had its most notable antecedent in the failed attack of August 4, 2018, the attempted assassination of President Maduro with drones armed with explosives.
To inclyde the Department of Justice implies additional institutional coverage for the 2015 Executive Order to justify direct aggression against the country’s political-military high command, knowing that large-scale armed intervention is out of the equation due to energy positioning and economic interests of China and Russia in Venezuela, and also, for the political cost that would imply declaring war on a country that is fighting a pandemic under conditions of blockade and illegal sanctions.
The idea is to destroy the Venezuelan state by murdering or kidnapping its main leaders under the excuse of defending “national security” of the United States. Exceptionalism on steroids.
Another armed plan from Colombia that failed: the key to Clíver Alcalá
On Wednesday March 25, the Minister of Communication and Information Jorge Rodríguez alerted public opinion at a press conference about the “existence of three training camps in the city of Riohacha, Colombia, where the same number of paramilitary groups are training with weapons and explosives to carry out terrorist attacks in Venezuela, with the support of US mercenaries and the support of the government of the US.”
The plan was to promote selective assassinations of high-level Venezuelan officials, including the placement and detonation of bombs in Venezuelan military units and centers of political power, with the aim of generalizing a situation of chaos and terror taking advantage of the Covid-19 situation.
But the central objective of the operation was a new attempt to assassinate Maduro.
The three mercenary groups in charge of Juvenal Sequera Torres (implicated in the failed coup of April 30, 2019), Félix Mata Sanguineti and Robert Colina Ibarra, alias “Pantera”, had North American advisers and military deserters from February 23 who would take the first line of attack.
The weapons and equipment would go to Riohacha to enter Venezuela, a movement that was frustrated since the Colombian National Police seized on March 23 “26 AR-15 5.56 caliber assault rifles and accessories for this type of weapons such as eight silencers, 36 butts, 45 sight units and 30 laser sights. Likewise, three bulletproof vests, 37 night vision goggles, four binoculars, two communication radios with 43 batteries and 15 helmets, among other elements, were found, ”according to a report by W Radio in Colombia.
The intelligence and security services of Venezuela anticipated the events and captured Rubén Darío Fernández Figuera, alias “Búho”, who described in his statements the scheme of the operation: three US mercenaries, together with alias “Pantera” and Clíver Alcalá, constituted the directive layer of the actions and were set up as the logistical and operational organizers.
The operation was frustrated before the first of the planned incursions happened.
Alcalá acknowledged through his Twitter account that the weapons seized by the Colombian police were part of the plan and said that with them the “liberation of Venezuela” would begin. He later confessed that they “were part of an agreement between him and Juan Guaidó with American advisers that were intended to be used in an operation against Nicolás Maduro.”
The former Venezuelan general has participated in other plans to direct armed incursions from Colombia against Venezuela, assuming a leading position in the creation of a mercenary army fed by FANB defectors last year who were advised by the US military.
Dragging Colombia to the precipice: the neoliberal and private war
With the offer of “rewards” for the head of Maduro and other leaders, the United States has outsourced the war against Venezuela, taking advantage of the ecosystem of military contractors and irregular groups that live in Colombia, guarding the businesses of multinationals.
Many of the military contractors that are active in Colombia belong to Israel and the United States, which train paramilitary groups in activities to control rural populations with strategic mineral resources.
Thus, in times of health crisis and electoral campaigns, the White House washes its hands, privatizes the war against Venezuela, putting millions of dollars on the table, and saves the political and economic cost of direct intervention.
Accelerating the coup: Maduro’s “Noriega-ization“
The devastating global effects of Covid-19 have also shattered expectations of regime change by employing the figure of Juan Guaidó. While the Venezuelan government has taken the measures required by the WHO and recognized by the United Nations system, Guaidó has been left in media anonymity and without a presence on the national and international political scene.
In recent days, the Venezuelan government proposed coordination with multilateral entities to reinforce the national fight against the pandemic, thus pressing for the lifting of the economic blockade imposed by Washington and endorsed by multinational corporations.
With the request for a loan of 5 billion dollars to the IMF, which was quickly denied by that organization through spokesmen, Nicolás Maduro obtained the first support from the European bloc in its demand for international financing. These actions have exposed the US interference policy as a factor that deepens the effects of Covid-19 and that harms Venezuelans.
In light of this reality, the United States has been forced to escalate its pressures against Venezuela, appealing to the mantra of “national security”, an aspect that attempts to create a historical mirror dangerously close to the invasion of Panama in 1989 that led to the capture of President Manuel Noriega, also accused of drug trafficking by the United States.
However, the conditions of Panama in 1989 and those of Venezuela in 2020 are very different, due in part to the context of geopolitical alliances that the country has built together with the multipolar order. Noriega had no political or international backing to defend himself against his former North American partner; quite the opposite happens with the government of President Maduro, which has China and Russia among its main strategic allies.
Maduro’s international offensive along with his early and timely reaction to the Covid-19 crisis have exasperated the White House, precipitating increasingly erratic measures such as spurring the murder or kidnapping of a head of state and key officials from a government on which millions of people depend to overcome the most dangerous pandemic of the 21st century.
They are wrong again.
Translated by JRE/EF