by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro’s attempt to stay in power could ultimately drive half the country’s population to seek refuge abroad, according to a key U.S. diplomat.
“Very, very, possible 15 million people leave,” Carlos Trujillo, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, told the Washington Examiner. “Right now, only four [million] have left, and four million has overwhelmed Colombia, Brazil, Chile, and Peru … Imagine what eight [million] does. Imagine what 10 [million] does. Imagine what 12 [million] does.”
That dire portrait, Trujillo suggested, guarantees that Maduro will not be able to withstand regional pressure to relinquish power. The regime has retained control of the military in the three months since President Trump and other major Western democracies recognized top opposition lawmaker Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president. Trujillo dismissed the idea that the momentum to oust Maduro is slowing, even if U.S. officials don’t have a quick-fix plan in place. …
… “Here’s what my days have been like lately. I get up to see if there’s any power in town,” José Antonio Ocanto, a Venezuelan radio host, explained in a Los Angeles Times column published Sunday. “If there isn’t, not only does it mean I can’t work; it also means my family doesn’t have water to drink or shower with. It means our refrigerator doesn’t work, so any perishable food has to get cooked right away.”
U.S. officials tried to deliver humanitarian aid in February, in coordination with Guaidó, but the effort was thwarted by colectivos, armed gangs loyal to the Maduro regime.