The US State Department is dangling millions of dollars in reward money in exchange for information that could be used to arrest Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, his VP, or other senior officials on drug trafficking charges.
The eye-popping reward of up to $15 million is being offered for “information related to Nicolas Maduro Moros” with regard to his alleged involvement in “international narcotics trafficking,” the State Department announced on Thursday, signaling a hard shift in its regime-change policy against the socialist nation.
Tips leading to the narcotrafficking arrest or conviction of National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello Rondon, retired generals Hugo Carvajal Barrios and Clive Alcala Cordones, or Minister for Industry and National Production Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah can net as much as $10 million, the statement continued.
The rewards were unveiled on the same day as the US Justice Department unsealed indictments against the Venezuelan leaders for the same drug trafficking crimes – suggesting that Washington’s evidence isn’t as solid as Attorney General William Barr has claimed.
Indictments in Miami and New York accuse the officials of participating in a “narco-terrorism conspiracy” with Colombian guerrilla group FARC, to “flood the United States with cocaine.” But if evidence against Maduro and his compatriots is at such a premium that the State Department will pay $15 million for it, the Venezuelans are unlikely to see the inside of a US court anytime soon.
The one-two punch is a profoundly cynical move in the US’ continuing assault on sanctions-starved Venezuela, especially in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic.
After over a year of pushing its preferred leader, Juan Guaido, accomplished nothing except wearing out the latter’s welcome in the opposition National Assembly, Washington appears to have lost patience with their golden boy’s failed coup attempts, pushing him aside to play hardball.
The last Latin American leader charged with drug trafficking by the US was Panama’s Manuel Noriega, whom Washington essentially stabbed in the back after a long and profitable partnership running drugs with the CIA, invading his country and hauling him back to Miami to stand trial on drug trafficking and money laundering charges.__RT.com