By Carlos Alberto Montaner
It seems the right way to me. On October 8, Mike Pompeo announced the name of another sanctioned individual, José López Bello, one of the Venezuelans indicted. Pompeo is the US Secretary of State. Previously, he was the CIA director. The department that Pompeo heads today offers five million dollars as a reward to any person or group that puts López Bello before the U.S. justice system. In the Wild West, where bandits and bounty hunters roamed, the method paid off and put an end to that plague. In those days the operations were tougher: “Wanted, dead or alive.”
Colombian-Venezuelan Alex Saab, an alleged thief, can attest that the matter is being taken seriously. He is being held in Cape Verde awaiting extradition to New York or Miami, where he will be on trial. He is accused of having stolen -- in collusion with the Venezuelan authorities -- hundreds of millions of dollars related to the food that the dictatorship imports for the “people”. In short, he is accused of being part of the international network of organized crime that plagues Venezuela, where all of them are “wallowing together”– Iran, the FARC, the ELN and other unpresentable criminals.
The perception that Venezuela is an infectious pigsty whose government is part of the transnational organized crime is very important. Recently, this became evident at the U.N. A vote was taken to determine if a commission watching over the violation of human rights in Venezuela should remain in place for two more years. It was the same commission, chaired by Michelle Bachelet, which had published an exhaustive analysis of the crimes committed by Maduro’s henchmen. As expected, Cuba and Venezuela moved behind the scenes trying to get the proposal rejected.
The outcome: Twenty-two countries voted in favor of keeping that sword of Damocles on Maduro’s neck, 22 abstained (which was a shameful way to pass the resolution) and only three nations dared to vote for the Maduro Regime.
What nations were capable of supporting the dictator Maduro? The government of Venezuela, Eritrea (which votes what Cuba suggests), and the Philippines, ruled by the lawyer Rodrigo Duterte, a kind of crazy “vigilante”, who has had thousands of people killed extrajudicially, accused of drug use or trafficking.
The composition of the three groups is very interesting. In the one that approved the resolution, there are many established democracies, including Argentina, where President Alberto Fernández himself instructed the Foreign Ministry to oppose the Maduro regime, contradicting the instructions of his vice president Cristina F. Kirchner.
The group that abstained includes almost all the Islamic states and some African satrapies that are part of the U.N. Human Rights Commission. However, López Obrador’s Mexico is also part of that group. López Obrador is a colorful character who has serious problems with the violations committed in his country that he does not want to face -- among them, the heinous murders of 43 Ayotzinapa students.
As the political scientist Sánchez Berzaín has repeatedly emphasized, the problem of regimes such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua – Bolivia and Ecuador have provisionally eluded this characterization – should not be seen within the ideological framework, but from the perspective of transnational organized crime, for which there is an antidote: the Palermo Convention, organized under the auspices of the UN in order to confront the mafias.
At the same time, the specialist Sánchez Berzaín has warned against the immobility of international organizations. What’s the use of the denunciations by the OAS, the Lima Group, or the UN, if the regimes of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua continue to exercise power there, even if they violate human rights and impoverish their peoples insensibly?
It is true, even though at least the punishments come with a full name. The sanctions and rewards program did not begin with President Trump, but in 1986 with Ronald Reagan. However, it has been enriched and used by the Democratic administrations of Clinton and Obama, so it is ridiculous to expect that whoever occupies the White House will eliminate it.
Over the years, the State Department has doled out $130 million and will continue “honoring its commitments.” So far 75 major criminals have ended up behind bars. That will continue, no matter what happens in the November 3 election. For sure. ©FIRMAS PRESS Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is Sin ir más lejos (Memories), published by Debate, a label of Penguin-Random House.