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MIAMI – US President Donald Trump announced today the deployment of Navy ships to Venezuela to reinforce his anti-drug operations in the Caribbean , after filing drug charges against President Nicolás Maduro.
Shipping ships to the Caribbean and also to the Eastern Pacific is “a global approach to prevent the introduction of illegal drugs into American territory and protect Americans,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a press conference, along with Trump.
After speaking of the transnational criminal organizations that are dedicated to drug trafficking, Esper added that: “The Maduro regime, as well as other countries, rely on the profits of drugs to earn income. The Venezuelan people are suffering greatly, the drug traffickers are increasing their activities. “
Trump added after Esper that it was an operation in the northern hemisphere against drug trafficking linked to the coronavirus epidemic. “We must not allow them to take advantage of this pandemic,” he said.
On March 26, the United States accused the questioned President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and several of his key officials of narcoterrorism and corruption, and offered millions in rewards for information leading to his capture.
According to the statement issued at the time, “the State Department offers a reward of up to $ 15 million for information related to Nicolás Maduro Moros . The Department also offers rewards of up to $ 10 million in each case for information related to: Diosdado Cabello Rondón, president of the illegitimate National Constituent Assembly; general (retired) Hugo Carvajal Barrios, former director of military intelligence of Venezuela (DGCOM); Clíver Alcalá Cordones, major general (retired) of the Venezuelan Army; and Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah , Minister of Industry and National Production “.
The mission is part of the commitment previously announced by Washington to strengthen anti-drug operations in the hemisphere. But it became more urgent after the charges were filed against the Venezuelan high command, accused of leading a narco terrorist conspiracy responsible for the traffic of 250 tons of cocaine a year to the United States, almost half of that amount by sea.
The announcement also comes as Maduro increases his attacks on the opposition Juan Guaidó , who has the support of the United States. Maduro’s chief prosecutor ordered Guaidó to testify tomorrow as part of the investigation of an alleged coup attempt. The legislator, whom almost 60 countries consider Venezuela’s president, is unlikely to show up, raising concerns in the United States that he will be arrested. Washington insisted that it will not tolerate any harm to Guaidó.
“No matter what their ideology is, any measure to try to restore democracy in Venezuela first requires recognizing the criminal nature of the Maduro regime and taking actions that lead the regime to negotiation,” said Raúl Gallegos, director for the Andean region of Control. Risks, a group of consultants.
Maduro lashed out at the Trump administration’s decision to offer a $ 15 million reward for his arrest, saying it was the work of a “racist cowboy” seeking to give the United States control of Venezuela’s vast oil reserves, the largest in the world. world. It also highlights that most of the cocaine leaves South America through Colombia, a firm US ally.
Others criticized a plan by the United States, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presented yesterday, to create a five-member council without Maduro or Guaidó to govern the country until elections can be held within a year. Although this is Washington’s first attempt in several months to seek a negotiated solution to the stagnation in Caracas, given shortly after the announcement of formal charges, many assure that it has little hope of succeeding and possibly further distances Maduro from the table. of negotiations.
The Trump administration has long insisted that all options for removing Maduro from power are on the table, including the military. Still, there was and is no indication that an invasion is being planned.
Instead, the shipment of ships coincides with a persistent call from the US Army’s Southern Command for additional resources to combat drug trafficking and other security threats in the hemisphere.
In January, another Navy ship, the USS Detroit, carried out a freedom of navigation operation off the coast of Venezuela, in a show of pressure against Maduro.
“This presence represents a huge message about the commitment of the United States, it is a great message to comfort our friends, and it is also a message to our adversaries that those (ships) have capacity,” said Admiral Craig Faller, director. from the U.S. Army’s Southern Command, in testimony before Congress last month.
Source: La Nacion