Mr Maduro not qualified to lead, but…

Editorial

Mr Maduro not qualified to lead, but…

Friday, March 27, 2020

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The timing of the United States' action against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro yesterday may very well raise some questions in the international community. After all, the political tension between Washington and Caracas had indeed taken a back seat to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which has dominated news cycles as the virus continued its unrelenting march across the globe.

Whether the United States decided to pursue this action against the Maduro regime at this time to deflect some attention from its own fight against he spread of the virus is yet to be proven. However, people who have been following developments in Venezuela for the past year would not be surprised by the Donald Trump-led Administration's latest push against Mr Maduro.

As was reported yesterday, the United States indicted President Maduro and several top aides for “narco-terrorism” and offered a US$15-million reward for information leading to his capture.

According to the US Justice Department, Mr Maduro led a cocaine-trafficking gang called The Cartel of the Suns that shipped hundreds of tons of narcotics into the United States over two decades, earning hundreds of millions of dollars.

Wire service reports of the indictment say investigators allege that the cartel worked hand in hand with the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which the United States has labelled a “terrorist organisation”.

American officials, we are told, accuse Mr Maduro of using cocaine as a “weapon” to damage US society.

“For more than 20 years, Maduro and a number of high-ranking colleagues allegedly conspired with the FARC, causing tons of cocaine to enter and devastate American communities,” US Attorney General Bill Barr was quoted as saying.

“It's time to call out this regime for what it is,” he added. “The Maduro regime is awash in corruption and criminality.”

In response, Mr Maduro's Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza described the charges as an attempted overthrow by Washington.

“The Government of Donald Trump is once more attacking the Venezuelan people and its democratic institutions, using a new form of coup d'etat based on miserable, vulgar, and unfounded accusations,” Mr Arreaza is reported as saying.

The response was not unexpected. For each time the Americans moved against Mr Maduro he has used the coup d'etat defence.

We have always maintained in this space that it is the people of Venezuela who should decide the make-up of their Government. The preservation of the democratic process is vital. That, though, does not seem to be the position held by Mr Maduro and his cabal. For he has repeatedly trampled on the democracy and the right of the Venezuelan people to voice dissent, even going as far as imprisoning people opposed to his leadership.

Indeed, last June, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet was strident in her call for him to release jailed dissidents as she lamented that the crisis-wracked country faced a “serious” humanitarian situation.

We recall that in January this year his allies attempted to orchestrate a takeover of the Opposition-controlled congress as Opposition Leader Juan Guaidˇ was blocked by security forces from presiding over the start of the legislative year.

In short, Mr Maduro has displayed despotic behaviour, a quality that does not qualify him to lead a country.

There needs to be a peaceful settlement to the crisis in Venezuela; however, we don't get the impression that Mr Maduro is committed to that.


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