Rudy Giuliani's murky interests in Venezuela
President Donald Trump's personal lawyer used irregular channels to try to negotiate Nicolas Maduro's exit in exchange for personal interests.
Yes, this headline may sound very noble: “President Donald Trump's envoy was trying to negotiate a way out of the Venezuelan crisis.” But if there is one thing we have learned from Rudy Giuliani in recent months, it is that there is nothing noble about the stratagems of Trump's personal lawyer.
After Giuliani's interference in international affairs was discovered in Ukraine –which has turned out to be the epicenter of President Donald Trump's impeachment– a new report in the Washington Post exposes how the former New York mayor has taken his "consulting" work to more than murky extremes, this time in Latin America.
During the month of September 2018, Giuliani reportedly engaged in a telephone conversation with the leader of the Chavista regime in Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, in the company of then-Republican representative from Texas, Pete Sessions.
According to people close to the call, both Giuliani and Sessions "were part of a shadow diplomatic effort,” partly backed by private interests, and aimed at negotiating Nicolás Maduro's exit from power and reopening “resource-rich Venezuela to the business.”
The call would have been made after Sessions visited Maduro in Caracas during the spring of that year, and Giuliani's phone call "was a continuation of that visit," Sessions spokesman Matt Mackowiak said to the WaPo.
However, Giuliani's "freelance" diplomacy –that is, without coordination with White House officials– was out of step with the agenda set by then-national security adviser John Bolton, who, after thousands of people took to the streets in Venezuela in early 2019, organized a series of economic sanctions and blockades of the Chavista regime to help the Venezuelan National Assembly's opposition movement.
After the call with Maduro, Giuliani reportedly offered Bolton his strategy, which the advisor "vehemently rejected," according to people close to the meeting.
The U.S. government, under Bolton's instructions, recognized Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaidó and proceeded to freeze the funds of the Chavista regime in the United States, trying to help in some way with Maduro's opposition.
Meanwhile, Giuliani was doing business with Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, a Venezuelan executive who is a member of the so-called "Chavista bolibourgeoisie," and who diverted millions of dollars in the country's energy companies.
Betancourt reportedly hired Trump's personal lawyer "to help him face a Justice Department investigation into alleged money laundering and bribery cases.”
It seems then that the real interest of officials like Sessions or Giuliani in the solution of the Venezuelan crisis has more to do with the ease of doing business with the regime than with the recovery of a country whose citizens are today the largest exodus in the continent.