Opposition Leader: Foreign Influence Growing in Venezuela, As U.S. is distracted with Impeachment

Media fails to spread truth about country's mafia-style regime

By Brendan Pringle

November 18, 2019

In recent weeks, the American media has almost exclusively focused its attention on Democrats’ efforts to impeach President Trump, while the story of the largest humanitarian disaster in the Western hemisphere has largely gone un-reported.

President Nicolás Maduro was elected to his first term in April 2013 to advance the socialist movement of his predecessor Hugo Chavez. Under Chavez, the Venezuela’s oil reserves paid for lavish social spending for a time, but under Maduro, the country’s once-booming economy collapsed under the weight of its radical socialist policies. Inflation has skyrocketed, leaving the poor struggling with hunger and malnutrition. A large portion of Venezuelans have neither the income nor the means to cover their basic nutritional needs.

“In daily terms, socialism [affects] every Venezuelan citizen whose income has no purchasing power,” said Fabio L. Valentini, a member of the Venezuelan opposition party Vente Venezuela, in an exclusive interview with Z News. “We see socialism in every street in Caracas, where thousands do not manage to eat twice a day, but the caste that governs power has luxurious vans, buys in markets for imported products and eats at the most expensive restaurants in the city. We have seen our fields unable to produce, the destruction of our oil infrastructure and an exodus that represents the lack of opportunity and hope.”

Opponents to the brutal Maduro regime argue that Maduro “usurped” power in his 2018 re-election by barring candidates from running, jailing candidates and forcing others to flee imprisonment. Maduro’s control isn’t completely centralized, which makes the situation complicated for those who dare to oppose the regime.

“[Maduro and his allies] have developed a mafia system, in which many key actors are involved,” said Valentini.

He explained that these “actors” control different areas of the regime. They include the Diosdado Cabello’s Group, which controls the narco-trafficking business; the National Armed Forces under Padrino López, who have created a business of controlling national companies, gold mines and other companies; and Tareck El Aissami, Minister of Industries and National Production, who has established relations with terrorist groups of various stripes including the ELN, Hezbollah, Hamas. They also include Russia, China and several countries in the Middle East.

Turkey has become an important ally of the Maduro regime. While President Recip Erdogan has led the charge the hashtag #WeAreMaduro quickly became popular with a broad spectrum of the Turkish electorate including Islamists, Kemalists and leftists. This support has moved beyond rhetoric with Turkey reportedly becoming an important life-line for the Maduro regime to transfer its gold bullion to the international market. With at least some of this Venezuelan gold being traded onward to Iran in potential violation of international sanctions. A situation that the U.S. Treasury Department is increasingly concerned with.

Another important country for Maduro in such international trade is Qatar. A Qatari jet is reported to have aided such transfers between Istanbul to Caracas in late October. This week a Venezuelan delegation visited Doha to ask for further investment from Qatar. Qatari authorities agreed to enact a 2015 economic agreement with Caracas offering a potential life-line for the regime.

Valentini believes such international support has allowed the Maduro regime to continue its policies despite growing internal pressure.

“We are talking about the installation of the most dangerous hub of anti-Western forces after the Bay of Pigs during the Cold War,” said Valentini. “Instability in the Western Hemisphere is promoted by Venezuela and Cuba, with the belligerence of Russia, China, Iran and other irregular forces.”

Valentini argues that the situation is not just internal, but rather represents a real threat to the Western Hemisphere and Western culture. While Maduro can count on a handful of countries to support his regime until the end the opposition has also received international support.

“Over 50 countries [have recognized] acting President Juan Guaidó’s interim government and the US sanctions against the Maduro regime, which have crippled the regime’s ability to sell oil and gain money,” said Andrés Guilarte, a young Venezuelan political activist who is now living in the US. “[However,] the main problems have not been resolved, and the Venezuelan people are demanding more action.”

Valentini argues that a reliable press is critical in spreading the truth about the regime and is the only way to encourage a credible threat to the mafia system in Venezuela from the international community.

“Our conflict is unprecedented, and this requires that the press review the true characteristics of the conflict in order to be able to inform what is really happening so that the world understands it and can act in favor of this reality,” said Valentini.

While the apparent collapse of the rule of Evo Morales in Bolivia has emboldened the Venezuela opposition, the Maduro regime has taken strength in its ability to continue to resist international pressure from the United States.

“The Bolivarian People who love peace went out to march against facism, but those who try to assault the Political Power in Venezuela by means of hatred, violence and illegality will not be able to do so. We are millions,” tweeted one Venezuelan supporter of the “Bolivarian” socialist regime. President Maduro quickly re-tweeted the tweet suggesting that Venezuela’s executive remains defiant in face of the ongoing international pressure.