US in­tel­li­gence ex­pert on Venezuela cri­sis: Stop all cash inflows immediately

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.

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