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Venezuela crisis: more imagination needed, military intervention non starter

Expectedly the Lima Group just said it won't support military intervention in Venezuela. Nothing new there really. No South American nation is about to attack another, despite Venezuelans' baseless hopes to that effect. What puzzles is the lack of imagination that Juan Guaidó, Venezuela's opposition, and its coalition of friendly nations have shown thus far. U.S. Treasury just came with further sanctions, against four completely irrelevant chavistas.

The showdown at the border over the weekend was a poor man's telenovela. The opposition show of strenght, with that concert and subsequent attempt to bring in two trucks of humanitarian aid, was pathetic to put it mildly. Do read Kurmanaev's thread from tweet above. Nicolas Maduro must have thought: "if all it takes to stop Guaido's assisted foreign invasion is to burn one truck, we've got nothing to worry about."

The U.S., till now the only country imposing sanctions, keeps missing an important group that continues to operate unimpeded, and provides much needed assistance to the chavista regime. Call them facilitators, middlemen, enablers... Many members of that group actually live in the U.S. -we're talking about the Francisco D'Agostinos, the Luis Obertos, the Gonzalo Moraleses, the David Osios- while others, like Oswaldo Cisneros, Alejandro Betancourt, Juan Carlos Escotet, Victor Vargas, Armando Capriles, Danilo Diazgranados, etc., continue living large within easy reach.

If the U.S. wants to choke Maduro's finances, it must hit where it matters, and not some entirely irrelevant governors. Arresting Rafael Ramirez should be first order of business, he knows where some of the hidden cash is and has incriminating evidence by the truck load. Get to Jesus Vidal Salazar and his Helios Petroleum, to Atahualpa Fernandez Arbulu, to Manuel Chinchilla, to Majed Khalil, hit Castleton Commodities, Reliance Group and Mukesh Ambani. Put real pressure on Glencore, Trafigura, Vitol and Lukoil. Ditto Gazprombank, Rosneft, Repsol, and every single partner of PDVSA. Impound every ship leaving Venezuelan waters, especially the ones operated by Cubametales.

Create a task force, immediately, of all federal agencies and their counterparts across the countries that have recognised Guaidó. Use INTERPOL Red Notices to curtail international travel. Get to the families and relatives of chavista officials. Remove visas, freeze accounts, seize their assets, send them back to Venezuela only with the clothes they're wearing.

The nations that form the Lima Group and Europe ought to replicate U.S. sanctions, so the entire playground becomes hostile territory to the people that prop Maduro up. It has got to be a concerted effort. Chavistas and its network of enablers should be afforded the same treatment they dispense Venezuelans, but on a global scale. Only then will such thugs sit down and agree to their exit. Hashtags and photo ops will not bring about transition in Venezuela.


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