In order to force embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to act to defuse the current situation affecting the south-American nation, which has led to millions of citizens fleeing the country, a US intelligence expert is recommending that all cash inflows to Venezuela be stopped immediately.
In addition, he said another sign of good faith by Maduro would be the immediate release of close to 800 political prisoners.
Speaking at a public lecture hosted by the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC), in collaboration with the US Embassy on the Regional Impact of the Current Political and Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela on Wednesday, Jose Cardenas said, “Let them all out. If Maduro is interested in a negotiated solution, demonstrate it by releasing all the political prisoners.”
He said, “T&T is what we call, through no fault of your own, a front line State in one of the most difficult humanitarian crises the Western hemisphere has ever seen and its impact affects all of you directly.”
Claiming that geography had landed T&T in this position, Cardenas sought to reassure those present as he said, “The US is not going to invade Venezuela.”
Justifying this statement as he addressed persons at USC, St Joseph, Maracas, he added, “There is a reason that policymakers in the US continue to say all options remain on the table and that is because past national security policymakers do not unilaterally take options off of the table when facing any kind of international situation.”
“You want all options available to you to address all contingencies.”
Stressing that he was not speaking on behalf of the US Government, Cardenas said, “They are sending a message to Nicolas Maduro…don’t do anything egregiously stupid…harming American citizens or provoking a confrontation with Colombia.”
Cardenas warned that if either scenario was to occur, “You have to accept that there could be some limited military action to deal with those contingencies.”
Referring to US President Donald Trump’s election campaign during which he promised to bring back US soldiers from overseas military operations, Cardenas said this had resonated with the American people who were tired of their family and friends being deployed to war-stricken areas of the globe.
He said, “There is very little appetite in the US for new military adventures.”
Acknowledging diplomatic and economic pressure continued to be heaped on nations to tackle the continuing situation in Venezuela, Cardenas said, “I think Nicolas Maduro is a dead man walking.”
Explaining that this claim was meant in a figurative context, Cardenas added, “I do not think his regime will withstand the global pressure for a return to constitutional government in Venezuela.”
Predicting that Maduro would continue to “Muddle through for a year or so…it could happen sooner, but I do not believe the Venezuelan future rests with Nicolas Maduro in power. What comes next is certainly something we can discuss.”
Charting the way forward, Cardenas said, multi-lateral action was needed. He said it was important for the US to act with the LIMA Group who was supporting Opposition Leader Juan Guaido.
Twelve countries initially signed the declaration including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru. Guyana and Saint Lucia joined later.
Claiming the ongoing situation was a regional issue, Cardenas said, “It is not a bilateral US/ Caracas spat.”
Calling for a restoration of institutions in Venezuela, he said, “We are not seeking a return to the past.”
Referring to past policies implemented by former President Hugo Chavez which magnified the inequalities between the upper and working classes, Cardenas warned, “We can’t get ourselves in a situation whereby we are seen as advocating the return to Venezuela before Chavez.”
He said, “Venezuela going forward has to be a new and better Venezuela. One that is more socially inclusive, one that is more politically inclusive, economically inclusive.”
He said the Venezuelan economy began breaking down following the decline of international oil prices almost seven years ago, coupled with massive corruption and mismanagement of the oil company—crowned by the war against the private sector.
Cardenas said regional counterparts were still largely unaware of how their own interests were being impacted by the Venezuelan meltdown.
With Venezuelans citizens fleeing to every country in South America, Cardenas said, “They are coming here and they are only going to continue to come.”
“The numbers are only going to grow because there is no effort within the Maduro regime to rectify the situation.”
He warned, “They are hunkering down and just trying to buy time. They aren’t even interested in any more programmes to mitigate the economic disfunction. All they are about today is remaining in power and so, that means the economy is going to continue to get worse than it is already is if that is even imaginable.”
- by Anna-Lisa Paul. Photo by Abraham Diaz.