Venezuela’s socialist regime used the nation’s state-run oil industry as a protection racket in a years’ long, systematic scheme to buy political loyalty across the hemisphere while shortchanging its own citizens, according to a major study that shines a fresh light on the regime’s corrupt dealings, Ben Wolfgang writes for The Washington Times:
The sweeping report, a collaboration among numerous journalists, was released Tuesday by the Washington-based think tank Inter-American Dialogue as President Trump and allies across the region increase their diplomatic and economic pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime. Mr. Trump told reporters once again Tuesday that “all options are open” to remove Mr. Maduro and install opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s rightful president, although he avoided a question about how long the U.S. government expects Mr. Maduro to hold out.
The U.S. is planning tougher sanctions on the regime’s kleptocratic elite, reports suggest.
The report on Venezuela’s oil corruption was the subject of a forum (above) – Buying Votes and Lining Pockets: Venezuela’s Petro-Diplomacy – organized by the Inter-American Dialogue and CONNECTAS, the International Center for Journalists, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Transparency International.
Panelists: Suhelis Tejero Puntes, reporter at Diario Libre; Miriam Kornblith, senior director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment for Democracy; Carlos Eduardo Huertas, director of CONNECTAS; David Gonzalez, investigative journalist at CONNECTAS; Zoe Reiter, senior project leader, Transparency International; Michael Camilleri, director of Inter-American Dialogue Rule of Law Program; Luis Botello, deputy vice president for new initiatives and impact, International Center for Journalists; and Michael Shifter, president of Inter-American Dialogue.