Log this one under one of the odder stories of 2017 related to the crisis in Venezuela. According to The Miami Herald,
a Venezuelan millionaire [Raúl Gorrín] declared persona non grata by the City of Miami for his alleged ties to the Maduro regime is trying to broker an exit strategy with the Trump administration for his beleaguered government, according to various Washington sources.
Beyond what I read in the papers, I do not know Mr. Gorrín. When it comes to U.S. policy circles, he may have hidden in the shadows but he is an unknown person in the Washington, D.C. think tank and political world. He may mean well; however, a quote allegedly attributed to him is somewhat disconcerting.
According to the Miami Herald, Gorrín reportedly told U.S. officials that “[w]e don’t want another Nuremberg.” We? If Gorrín or one of his representatives said this, it is a rather odd pronoun choice. I’d think he would’ve said, “they,” as in regime officials. Is he seeking immunity as well? For what? But that is beside the point. There are more significant equities at play in Venezuela. Allowing crooked regime officials to keep their dirty money is not one of them, nor is giving all of them a free pass for gross human rights violations.
What I find curious about this fellow is that he appears to have been able to do business in Venezuela while many of his colleagues were kicked out of Venezuela and their homes, businesses, and other properties illegally confiscated by the late Hugo Chavez. Nicolas Maduro, Iran/Hizbollah ally Tareck El Aissami, and other corrupt Venezuelan officials continue to push out any business or person who refuses to tow the socialist line.
According to Venezuela expats and business leaders who know their country well, the first thing that must happen in Venezuela is the exit of Cuban regime officials. Backed by the Russians, these Cuban advisors are a toxic presence that is frustrating potential talks among different groups interested in rebuilding the socialist-ravaged nation.
Impunity in exchange for liberty for the people of Venezuela? It’s a volatile mix. A terrible idea, especially at this point in the process. Giving a free pass to Venezuelan lawbreakers and serial violators of fundamental freedoms would set a terrible precedent. The Cubans are watching as are other ALBA-aligned leaders. Even Chile’s General Augusto Pinochet was forced to answer for human rights abuses many years after he stepped down from power, but while he was a Senator in the Chilean Congress!
The Venezuela regime continues to undermine the path back to democratic rule. They must be held to account. The Trump administration re-orientation of U.S. policy toward the region is working. What is needed are more targeted sanctions and more talks with persons with a realistic plan of transition. If this Miami Herald story is correct, parties who should be at the table do not appear to be.
I know many Venezuelan expats who took a principled stand against socialism and paid a high price for doing so. They lost just about everything they worked generations to create. Despite the difficulties, many of these brave and women are willing to do their part to help rebuild their beleaguered nation. Most of these folks would agree that questions of transitional justice can be addressed much later in this process. Not now. And blanket immunities would be a really bad idea not only for Venezuela but for advancing U.S. national interests in the region.
If this story is accurate, the Trump administration should expand the circle of people who they may be talking to who are willing to help bring the Venezuelan crisis to an end and who are also capable of re-building a free, market-based nation. Honest brokers are welcome, but facilitators of the Cuba-led Maduro regime must be scrutinized closely and held to a much higher standard.
Read the complete The Miami Herald story here.