ANALYSIS - US Taps Regime Change Specialist As Venezuela Envoy, Hopes To Provoke Maduro

ANALYSIS - US Taps Regime Change Specialist as Venezuela Envoy, Hopes to Provoke Maduro

(UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 29th January, 2019) The Trump administration has appointed a Reagan-era official linked to war crimes in Latin America as special envoy to help develop options for luring Venezuela into a military confrontation, analysts told Sputnik.

On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Elliott Abrams would serve as special envoy to Venezuela to lead US efforts to bring democracy to the South American country. The move came after Trump earlier in the week had recognized National Assembly Speaker Juan Guiado as interim president of Venezuela and called on twice-democratically-elected President Nicolas Maduro to step down.

As the diplomatic crisis heats up the violence on the ground is escalating. The number of people killed during mass protests in Venezuela amid the escalating political crisis in the country increased to 35 people, the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict (OVCS) said on Monday.

At a UN Security Council meeting on Saturday, Abrams, betraying his Cold War mindset, alleged that Venezuela had become a "satellite" of Cuba and Russia. Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia refuted the allegation and said that Russia does not even use that terminology.

Russia has stressed that it only recognizes Maduro as the legitimately elected Venezuelan president.

Francis Boyle, a Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois and a global human rights activist, is very familiar with Abrams' violent efforts to undermine governments especially in Latin America.

Boyle is also a specialist in the area of war crimes - in 2012 he led the prosecution at the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal that found US President George W. Bush guilty of war crimes. As a lawyer he was also involved in a large number of CIA protest cases back in the 1980's because of what was going on in Central America.

Boyle told Sputnik Abrams' appointment is controversial because of the role he played in funding anti-communist resistance paramilitary forces in Nicaragua, the Contras, and in supporting the armed forces of Guatemala and El Salvador in repression campaigns that took hundreds of thousands of lives.

As assistant secretary of state for Latin America under President Ronald Reagan, Abrams' policies were even condemned by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Boyle recalled.

On April 9, 1984, he pointed out, the United States was charged by the ICJ for engaging in paramilitary activities against the government of Nicaragua in violation of the Charters of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. A month later, the court ordered the United States to cease its "covert" war against Nicaragua. The vote was 14-1, with only the US judge dissenting.

In addition, Abrams was also a classmate of Boyle's at Harvard Law school - and the professor minced no words in describing the new US special envoy's track record.

"Abrams is a war criminal and a genocider and a neocon," Boyle said. "He is absolutely the worst kind of person you could put in there. It is a very dangerous appointment."

The law professor outlined the carnage left due to the policies spun and implemented by Abrams.

"35,000 exterminated in Nicaragua, 75,000 exterminated in El Salvador, 200,000 exterminated In Guatemala - mostly Mayan Indians, outright genocide," Boyle said.

Boyle warned that there was no reason to believe this tour of duty would be any different.

Abrams' policies were certain to have similar ramifications in Venezuela.

"The war criminal returns to the scene of his crimes in Latin America," Boyle said.

On Saturday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described Abrams appointment as an attempt to impose direct rule over Venezuela, an accusation backed by valid historical evidence. In fact, former US presidential candidate from the Green Party Jill Stein has accused Abrams of leading the 2002 failed coup in Venezuela.

However, Abrams told the UNSC on Saturday that US efforts were not about foreign intervention because "democracy never needs to be imposed."

Boyle said Abrams' new job proved that neocon hardliners who dominated US foreign and national security policies under President George W. Bush were now back in control with Trump, despite his 2016 campaign promises to pull the United States out of wars rather than igniting new ones.

Neocons like Pompeo and White House National Security Adviser John Bolton are now in charge of Trump, he said.

Abrams' new appointment, Boyle argued, coupled with Pompeo's refusal to evacuate US diplomats from Caracas as demanded by the Maduro government indicated that the hardliners in the Trump administration wanted to provoke or orchestrate a violent confrontation with Venezuela.

"It sounds to me that they are trying to precipitate something similar to the [1979] Iran hostage crisis by leaving the US diplomats in Caracas," Boyle said. "The US diplomatic staff still in Caracas is being used as pawns in a bigger game. If any harm comes to them it would be very easy take military action."

Besides, according to international law Maduro was within his rights and justified in calling for them to be withdrawn, Boyle pointed out. However, the US armed forces had already taken steps that prepared them to take hostile action against Venezuela, Boyle observed.

"The Fourth Fleet has been reactivated. It would be very easy for them to impose a blockade of Venezuela and collapse the economy," Boyle explained. "Any blockade would be clearly illegal under international law."

Washington would hope Maduro's reaction to the move would provide spurious legitimacy for US military action, he cautioned. Russia and China would use their veto powers on the Council to try and prevent it, Boyle said.

Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald, authors and foreign policy experts who witnessed the ramifications of US policy in South America during the 1980s, told Sputnik that they agreed Pompeo's appointment of Abrams was all about regime change.

Gould, who described Abrams as "vintage neocon Bush administration," said that people apparently have forgotten what the neoconservatives' agenda actually is. The new special envoy to Venezuela, she added, is simply the "fulfillment of that doctrine."

Like Boyle, Gould and Fitzgerald both believe that the neocon advisers are now fully in charge of US foreign policy and Trump is simply the vessel for realizing their dark vision. The couple likened Trump to the tragic figure in the fictional political thriller "The Manchurian Candidate," who is brainwashed by communists into serving as an unwitting sleeper agent.

"Trump is the Manchurian Candidate but the Manchurians are the neocons," Fitzgerald warned. "Americans just don't know it yet."

Your Thoughts and Comments