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The Donald Trump government’s announcement closes the door to a negotiated solution in Venezuela and reaffirms Iván Duque’s position not to speak with the government of the neighboring country.

The head of the National Constituent Assembly of Venezuela, Diosdado Cabello (i) and Nicolás Maduro. / EFE

Taking action against Nicolás Maduro at this time is not only harmful for Venezuela, but for Colombia. This is how experts analyze the announcement by the United States government to offer a series of rewards for information that leads to the arrest and / or condemnation of the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro Moros, and of strategic statements from his government, Diosdado Cabello Rondón; Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino; the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Maikel Moreno, as well as the vice president in charge of the Economy, Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah, for “his role in international narcotics trafficking,” according to the State Department.

The price for the head of Maduro is up to US $ 15 million and for those of the other accused, which also includes the fled former head of security for Hugo Chávez, Hugo Carvajal, and the former deputy chief of the late president, Clíver Alcalá Cordones, amount reaches US $ 10 million. The President of Venezuela was accused of “having participated in a criminal association that involves an extremely violent terrorist organization, the Farc, in an effort to flood the United States with cocaine,” said Attorney General Bill Barr.

The worst of this decision, according to analysts consulted by The viewer, is that all possibility of a negotiated solution to the Venezuelan crisis is closed. “This does not help solve anything and reinforces Maduro’s anchoring in power and his reluctance to consider negotiating the political transition,” explains Arlene B. Tickner, an internationalist at the Universidad del Rosario.

Tickner believes that this Trump decision will further complicate coordination between the representatives of Colombia and Venezuela, “since the decision by Washington reaffirms the position of Colombian President Iván Duque not to speak to the regime so as not to lend him no hint of legitimacy. ” Duque has refused to speak to the Maduro government even during the COVID-19 crisis. In mid-March, the Colombian president ordered the closure of the border with the neighboring country and assured that “there will be no direct line with the Maduro regime to coordinate actions against the coronavirus outbreak.” He reported that everything would be done through the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), through which, in effect, the Colombian Minister of Health has contacted the Maduro government.

A position that even one of the most fierce critics of Maduro in Colombia, former President Andrés Pastrana, qualifies as an error at this time when the coronavirus pandemic is spreading: “It is important to build bridges as soon as possible with the Venezuelan president to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. We have to take joint measures (…). If someone is detested by Nicolás Maduro, it is me; If I detest someone, it is Maduro ”, he assured.

Adam Isacson, director for Defense Oversight at the Washington Office for Latin American Affairs (WOLA), explains that the Trump administration’s announcement does nothing more than “hinder any effort to resolve the Venezuelan crisis through political negotiation and is a a sign that the current sanctions in the oil sector are not going to be eased ”. The director for Venezuela of the Washington Office for Latin American Affairs (WOLA), Geoff Ramsey, explains that Trump’s decision to offer a reward for Maduro and his people was “terribly short-sighted” and the only thing that causes is the regime to entrench itself more in power. ”

Ronal Rodríguez, coordinator of the Venezuela Observatory of the Universidad del Rosario, is categorical in affirming that the great victim of all this is also Colombia: “Taking action against Maduro at this time is very damaging for Colombia. He has control of the State and of the Armed Forces, that is, if he were to leave power at this moment, a power vacuum and instability so unpredictable could be generated that the Colombian State would be the most affected. ”

The expert points out that at this time the region is not in a position to make a transition, because “we have already seen that when some dictatorships fall they leave a void that is filled with extreme violence, the same could even happen as in Libya, where the Gaddafi’s fall generated anarchy and a violent power struggle. ”

He warns that the announcement by the United States only generates opportunities for the radical opposition, “who believes that the time has come to go over the regime due to the conjuncture of COVID-19, something very serious for Colombia in its border area, where there are many actors illegals that can start to move generating very high risks ”.

According to the accusation, Maduro and his environment conspired “for more than 20 years” with the FARC for drug trafficking to the United States. Court documents indicate that the Farc and the Cartel de los Soles (in allusion to the stars who carry generals in their uniforms) sent processed cocaine from Venezuela to the United States through transshipment points in the Caribbean and Central American countries, such as Honduras. “Maduro, leader of the Suns Cartel, used cocaine as a weapon.” For years, the organization has been discussed, but only until 2019 did the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) acknowledge its influence on drug trafficking in Venezuela. In this document, INCB reported evidence of the existence of an informal network of members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) and other government institutions dedicated to facilitating the entry and exit of drugs from the country.

“There are indications that, in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, criminal groups have managed to infiltrate government security forces and have created an informal network known as the Cartel de los Soles to facilitate the entry and exit of drugs,” said the report published in February 2020.

But there are voices that indicate that Venezuela is not the transit country that the US government says. USA now. “The claim that Maduro is deliberately ‘flooding’ the United States with cocaine is absurd. The DEA’s own data shows that Venezuela is far from being an important transit country for cocaine destined for the United States. USA, ”explains Geoff Ramsey, who cites a report released two weeks ago by WOLA that was based on data from the US Southern Command. According to that document, “recent data from the United States Consolidated Anti-Drug Database (CCDB) indicates that 210 metric tons of cocaine passed through Venezuela in 2018. In comparison, the State Department reports that six times more cocaine (1,400 metric tons) passed through Guatemala that same year.

The key to all this, adds Michael Shifter, of the Inter-American Dialogue, is how the Venezuelan military, the pillar of support for Maduro, will react. “Experience shows that they do not respond well to external threats, particularly from the United States. This will only weaken the possibility of a truce between Maduro and Guaidó to work together to deal with the terrible coronavirus, the consequences of which in Venezuela could be catastrophic. I ratify my complaint! From the USA USA and Colombia conspires and they have given the order to fill Venezuela with violence. As head of state I am obliged to defend the peace and stability of the entire homeland, in any circumstance that comes our way. They could not and will not!

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