Venezuela is in crisis. Although the Trump administration has recognized Juan Guaidó as acting president of Venezuela, despot and dictator Nicolas Maduro remains in power.
U.S. support of Guaidó was one of former national security advisor John Bolton’s chief initiatives, one it is hoped U.S. President Donald Trump will continue. It is in the interests of the free world to make sure we get to the finish line on this vital mission.
While there have been some positive developments, like Citgo oil and gas being taken over by forces aligned with Guaidó, for the most part Maduro has been on the offensive, viciously attacked the opposition. He controls the military. Anyone that speaks out is immediately jailed, as happened to Vice President Edgar Zambrano.
But there is hope; U.S. sanctions, I am told by reliable sources, are working. These sanctions have hurt Maduro, just as sanctions have been hurting Venezuela’s chief sponsor, Iran.
If Iran is removed from the equation, then Maduro falls. Unfortunately, until the mullahs in Iran are toppled, Venezuela will remain one of Iran’s prime proxies. Iran has sent money and weapons to Maduro to prop him up, but notwithstanding Iranian funding, Maduro has reportedly stolen $380 billion from the Venezuelan people.
Although the main base of the Iran-backed Shi’ite terrorist organization outside its home base of Lebanon is along the “triple frontier” border of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, Hezbollah has a significant presence in Venezuela. The country acts as a conduit for Hezbollah to other parts of South America. The terrorist organization has been helping Maduro’s military.
Iran is the chief sponsor of terrorism in the world today and its actions in Venezuela speaks volumes.
Venezuela is salvageable. America can win this one. Sanctions are working, both on Iran and Venezuela. It is certain that Bolton will keep working from the sidelines on this and other matters vital to America’s and the world’s interests. I have faith in President Trump and his administration that they will set Venezuela free.
Dr. Joseph Frager is first vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.