Is this the beginning of the end of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela?
Venezuela’s embattled socialist president said in one of his endlessly boring TV speeches that his government had been holding secret talks with members of the Trump administration in order to “normalize” relations between the two countries. To that end, he offered to meet with Donald Trump sometime in the near future.
“We’ve had secret meetings in secret places with secret people that nobody knows,” Maduro said, adding that these talks took place with his “direct” authorization.
Hours earlier, Trump said at a White House event, “We are talking to various representatives of Venezuela … I don’t want to say who, but we are talking at a very high level.”
Recent reports said the U.S. had opened up secret communications with top power brokers in Venezuela, including a meeting in the capital of Caracas with Constituent Assembly president and alleged drug lord, Diosdado Cabello.
Maduro is putting a brave face on the talks, but national security advisor John Bolton injected some reality in Maduro’s fantasy.
As the President has repeatedly stated, to end the pilfering of the Venezuelan people’s resources and continued repression, Maduro must go. The only items discussed by those who are reaching out behind Maduro’s back are his departure and free and fair elections.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) August 21, 2019
What’s significant here is that some of Maduro’s closest aides appear to be trying to negotiate Maduro’s exit from Venezuela — and theirs. Maduro probably found out about the talks and rather than admit he didn’t have control of this own administration, he took ownership of the negotiations himself.
Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido said Wednesday his rival Nicolas Maduro had been made to look ridiculous by insisting he had authorized back channel talks with Washington, only for a top US official to reveal it was Caracas who had made the initial approach behind the president’s back.
The sole aim of the secret talks was to discuss Maduro’s exit from power and organizing free elections, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said Wednesday.
Bolton’s comment came after Maduro said he had authorized the contacts with high level US officials, casting them as a long-standing initiative that he was aware of and had approved.
The problem, as it has been since the beginning of the crisis, is that Maduro still has the backing of most of the military. And as long as he does, he doesn’t have to go anywhere.
The only way regime change will happen is if Maduro loses the support of key officers in the military. We don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors, but it would hardly be surprising if the CIA wasn’t involved up to their necks in trying to engineer a military coup.