Nicolás Maduro’s regime has turned Venezuela into a paradise for drug traffickers, guerrillas and criminal organizations, positioning the country at the center of a vicious cycle of criminal activities that threatens the security of the region, the head of the Southern Command said on Thursday. , Admiral Craig Faller.
Faller, who was speaking at a forum organized by the Atlantic Council, said that the flow of drugs leaving Venezuela has skyrocketed in recent times, while the president has allied with Colombian guerrillas and criminal organizations, yielding to them as part of the deal. territorial control within the South American country.
Latin American democracies and institutions “are under attack by a brutal circle of threats, the center of which is Venezuela,” Faller declared during the forum “Countering the global network of illicit activities of the Maduro Regime.”
Maduro has created within Venezuela “an environment where criminal organizations and narco-terrorists can prosper (…) We see the FARC dissidents [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia] and the ELN [Ejército de Liberación Nacional] expanding its territory within the state ”, while“ the drastic increase in drug trafficking leaving Venezuela kills people here, in the United States, be it Miami or Pittsburgh ”.
Faller, who heads the military operations in the Caribbean ordered by President Donald Trump to contain the shipment of drugs from Venezuela, admitted that the outbreak of the coronavirus is limiting the options for action against the regime.
Maduro, on the other hand, has benefited from the pandemic because it has allowed him to cage the population even more, by decreeing quarantines that keep people in their homes and ordering the security forces and allied bands of armed paramilitaries to take control of streets.
The operations in the Caribbean undertaken by the United States count on the operation of Latin American nations concerned about the volumes of drugs that leave Venezuela
Nations generally share intelligence on illicit operations, and 22 agents from other countries participate in a command center set up south of Key West.
Even though the Southern Command considers that Venezuela is at the center of the pan-regional security threat, Faller said that would not be possible were it not for the support that the Maduro regime is receiving from hostile nations, including Cuba, Russia and Iran. .
In all this, it is Cuba that plays a fundamental role in sustaining the Caracas regime.
“In essence, the entire Maduro intelligence system and all of his presidential guards are controlled by the Cubans. But in reality, he is essentially a puppet, ”Faller said.
The admiral said that the support that Maduro receives from his allies helps him stay in power, so any attempt to remove him from power must go beyond just blocking the income he receives from drug trafficking.
The US military, however, did not elaborate on what kind of additional actions would be necessary to achieve this.