Will the State Department legitimize a narco-authoritarian regime in Venezuela?

As cancer-stricken Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez remains in Cuba recovering from emergency surgery, rival factions within his leftist movement may be closing ranks to hold on to power for the foreseeable future. At this critical moment, rather than pressing Chávez’s successor for progress on drugs or democracy, U.S. diplomats are secretly plotting to normalize diplomatic ties with Caracas. Such a move would bestow the Obama administration’s blessing on a criminal, autocratic, and anti-American regime.

Before rushing back to Cuba, Chávez anointed his vice president and foreign minister, Nicolas Maduro, as his successor. After hiding the gravity of his condition for two years, Chávez conceded that he might not recover fully after this latest surgery and implored Venezuelans to vote for Maduro in any election to choose his successor.

Critics have tried to belittle Maduro as a former bus driver. However, he has served in the National Assembly and, for the last six years, has run circles around the U.S. State Department as Chávez’s foreign minister. Chávez, his Cuban handlers, and others in his inner circle believe that Maduro stands the best chance of connecting with the country’s very poor majority in a snap election required to choose a successor. Described in the Western media as “affable,” Maduro is poised to be a front man for a dangerous regime.

The full text of this article is available on The American’s website

 

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About the Author

 

Roger F.
Noriega
  • Roger F. Noriega is a former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs (Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean) and a former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States. He coordinates AEI's program on Latin America and writes for the Institute's Latin American Outlook series.


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