I want to thank you.
For many years, we have been blighted by an unrepresentative, unelected leadership that does not speak for us. Our nation has been condemned to unnecessary hardship by a regime that has surrendered our sovereignty to a failed communist dictatorship, and an opposition leadership more interested in safeguarding whatever little crumbs they can get.
Your words yesterday, during the Senate hearing on Venezuela, exposing shadowy and duplicitous characters from MUD that have lobbied the US State Department against sanctions intended to punish those responsible for human rights violations in our country, will hopefully have consequences.
We must thank you for this. While you refused to name them, we know exactly who you were talking about. There's this man in DC, Leopoldo Martinez, who claims to represent the MUD. Martinez has a couple of notorious distinctions: Venezuela's Finance Minister with the shortest ever period in office (during Pedro Carmona's 48-hour "administration"), and employee, defender and attack dog of David Osío, a Bolivarian "banker" very well known by US Federal Agencies.
Martinez has this joint called the Center for Democracy and Development in the Americas, in whose board one can see another of his associates: Ramon Jose Medina, long time employee and enforcer of Víctor Vargas, yet another Bolivarian "banker" well acquainted with US regulators.
Both of them get their marching orders from a third, called Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, spokesperson of MUD, whose best ability seems to be to be able to perpetuate himself indefinitely in unelected positions where he gets to dictate who is a legitimate member of the opposition to the Maduro regime and who isn't.
I heard you praising the televised dialogue between MUD and chavismo. Perhaps you are unaware of the meeting that went on in Aruba prior to that "debate", between MUD and government officials, where conditions were agreed: no naming victims, no pointing fingers, no attacking government-sponsored thugs, no mentioning Chavez or his legacy, no discussing stripping of seats or power of elected officials, no bringing electoral issues, no acknowledging political prisoners... The regime imposed conditions, and the MUD, as ever so diligently, went along with the charade, and gave another coat of legitimacy to a regime that systematically violates human rights.
Realpolitik tends to happen on the basis of cost - benefits. Venezuela, Latin America, the US, and the world in general, stand to gain, tremendously, from what you did yesterday. The sooner we rid ourselves of totally compromised leadership the better.
I have been told that your Department withdrew the visa of Alejandro Andrade, but that he is back in Miami sharing intel with other Federal Agencies. That may also be the case with Rafael Isea. Carry on like that, please. There's a wealth of information that the US government could tap at a moment's notice from Venezuelan "exiles" and "businessmen" living in your midst. Call them up, they will sell their children to keep their ill gotten fortunes, the bulk of which is in America in the form of bank accounts, jets, mansions, yachts, horses, art collections, etc.
A recent poll showed that favouritism of rank and file opposition is almost equally shared between Henrique Capriles (MUD) and Leopoldo Lopez (non-aligned with MUD). In fact, same poll results suggest that those asked feel equally strongly against both MUD and Maduro, with respect to their willingness to solve Venezuela's problems through dialogue, and that the student movement has the largest level of support among all opposition political actors. What you will be hard pressed in finding, is any indication of positive support for the likes of Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, or his sidekicks. Bear that in mind next time they come knocking.
On the issue of what some members of MUD may have told you regarding sanctions to target government officials, let me just say that their line, of being against wholesale sanctions or an oil embargo, comes straight from Maduro and his Cuban handlers. As Senator Rubio explained very clearly, an oil embargo was never in the cards, Senator Rubio has said, repeatedly, that proposed sanctions are to target individuals involved in wholesale and systematic human rights violations, and NOT on Venezuelans as a whole. Therefore, I would like to encourage you to call Mark Weisbrot instead, next time you want to get MUD's official stance.
I would like to remind you that systematic violations of human rights in Venezuela have been taking place for a long time. The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) has placed Venezuela in Chapter IV, every year since 2005, and, in case you are unaware, I do encourage you to read IACHR's criteria to put countries in Chapter IV.
Dialogue with chavismo is not going to bear fruit, unless those that chavismo want it to bear, for instance regaining legitimacy by sitting with MUD. At this point, chavismo needs MUD, perhaps for the first time, as much as MUD needs chavismo. This is not due to MUD's actions, but rather by MUD coattailing on efforts, deaths, and blood shed by regular Venezuelans who do not feel represented by MUD. Actual "meaningful discussions" are taking place behind close doors, and what's at stake is how MUD will serve chavismo's purposes going forward, by requesting to have the token representative in the Supreme Court, Electoral Council and so on. Make a mental note for the future: none of those figures will ever manage to turn any of those institutions to bring even a sliver of accountability to the regime.
To conclude Roberta, thank you. I am forever grateful for having shown MUD for what they truly are.
PS: as I told your colleagues last time I was in DC, Venezuela is signatory to a number of international human rights treaties that are binding and have, in most jurisdictions, supra-constitutional character. It is worth mentioning that Venezuela submitted itself to treaties' premises on its own, without coercion from any nation. Getting chavista officials to uphold those treaties shouldn't even be a matter of debate.