Venezuelan Conservative Leader: Elliott Abrams ‘Undermined’ Trump Policy with Insults

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Machado — an elected federal lawmaker under socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro who sent the military to tear-gas her and ban her from her office in 2014 — has for years opposed any dialogue or negotiations with Maduro, predecessor Hugo Chavez, or any socialists in Venezuelan politics. Venezuela’s opposition is currently led by the nation’s legal president, Juan Guaido, a former member of the Popular Will party. Popular Will is a full member of the Socialist International.

Several other high-profile figures in the opposition also openly identify as socialists. Henry Ramos Allup, of the “opposition” Democratic Action party, is a vice president of the Socialist International.

Guaido announced an effort last week to participate in legislative elections organized by Maduro, scheduled for December. International observers consider none of the national elections held since Maduro took power in 2013 to have been free or fair. A month ago, Guaido used that as reasoning for vehemently rejecting participating in the upcoming elections.

Machado made news this weekend when, following a personal meeting with Guaido, she announced that she would not join his efforts to legitimize the election. Machado published a letter written to Guaido in which she called some of his policies a “fiasco” and accused him of tolerating corruption and socialist elements in his administration.

Abrams, technically the Special Representative for Venezuela at the State Department, responded to the news of the rift between Machado and Guaido with a laugh, calling Machado’s rejection of socialists around Guaido “magical realism” and claiming Machado did not “want to do that work” of uniting and instead wanted a “magical” solution to Venezuela’s woes.

“Recently, some spokesmen of the Trump administration have been saying, ‘well, this could be a fantasy,'” Machado responded in an interview with CNN en Espanol’s Fernando del Rincon on Monday, without naming Abrams. “The fantasy is believing that this regime will leave through any other mechanism than the construction of a real threat.”

“The truth is that I lament [Abrams’s] remarks because they undermine the very policy of President Trump, who has committed to the liberation of Venezuela,” Machado concluded.

In her letter to Guaido, Machado proposes a plan of action that involves the international community in the expulsion of Maduro’s regime, citing the fact that Maduro is a national security risk to the nations around him and has ties with a variety of criminal networks whose eradication is the common cause of the hemisphere. Among these groups is the Marxist terrorist organization the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Brazilian drug gangs like the First Capital Command (PCC), and the jihadist organization Hezbollah.

Machado specifically suggested the activation of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), which requires military action from all signatories to defend any one member. This plan would posit that Venezuela is under attack by a narco-criminal network led by Maduro and member states have a responsibility to defend the Venezuelan state from Maduro.

Machado also proposed the use of the Venezuelan Constitution’s Article 187.11, which grants the National Assembly, the federal legislature, the power to approve foreign military missions in the country.

Machado wrote in the letter that Guaido had failed to do his duties as an interim president and advised, “so long as you don’t cut the ties and links to corrupt people who have infiltrated [the opposition], you will not be able to try to assume the mandate granted to you in the four months you have left.”

Nowhere in her remarks did Machado call for an American invasion of Venezuela.

Abrams appeared on the Venezuelan news network NTN24 on Monday to mock Machado.

“We have an expression in the United States, ‘it’s a free country.’ Of course, Venezuela is not a free country, but Maria Corina is apparently free to say whatever she likes and I would not try to censor her remarks. But I am reminded of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the famous magical realism,” Abrams told the broadcast. “Maria Corina, seems to me, is calling for a kind of magical plan B that is going to solve all the problems of Venezuela and who is going to do the solving? Foreigners who intervene.”

Abrams then suggested that Machado was saying, “I don’t want to do that work” of building an opposition coalition, suggesting she was lazy.

Abrams has famously supported U.S. military interventions around the world for decades.

Abrams’ remarks rejecting Machado’s opposition to negotiating with socialists ran counter to the longtime position of the Trump administration. President Donald Trump has imposed strict sanctions on the Maduro regime — including its top industry, oil — a form of direct foreign intervention. In 2017, Trump said that he was open to sending troops to fight Maduro on Venezuelan soil.

“Venezuela is a mess; it is very dangerous mess, and a very sad situation,” Trump said at the time. “We have many options for Venezuela; I’m not ruling out military options.”

“The United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro,” Trump said during his State of the Union address in January, which Guaido attended. “Maduro is an illegitimate ruler, a tyrant who brutalizes his people. But Maduro’s grip of tyranny will be smashed and broken.”

While Guaido was negotiating with Machado, another faction of the socialist “opposition” reportedly launched talks with the repressive regime of Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of Maduro’s most vocal supporters internationally. Henrique Capriles Radonski, a two-time failed presidential candidate that Maduro ousted from the governorship of Miranda state, admitted that he had taken the liberty of conducting foreign policy behind Guaido’s back, despite not having any official government title. Capriles is a member of the center-left Justice First party. He reportedly engaged in talks with Turkey with National Assembly lawmaker Stalin Gonzalez of the Socialist International party A New Era.

“There is no negotiation between Turkey and the opposition in Venezuela. What there is is talking with all those who can bring us closer to a CREDIBLE solution,” Capriles wrote on Twitter. “Speaking to a member of the international community is normal when you believe in politics.”

Capriles affixed a photo of Erdogan with Trump to his remarks.

Neither side has revealed at press time what the Turks discussed with Capriles or what role they could play in helping the opposition.

Guaido published a terse statement through his administration asserting that Capriles’ actions “were taken with neither the knowledge nor the authorization of the interim government, the National Assembly, [or] our international allies.”

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