Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Thursday that the US drug trafficking charges against President Nicolás Maduro announced earlier in the day showed the "despair,quot; of the "Washington elite."
Arreaza said the decision by the administration of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, to offer rewards for the capture of Maduro and other high-ranking officials accused of drug trafficking shows the administration's "obsession,quot; with Venezuela, which according to he was due to his desire to garner "election returns,quot; in the US state of Florida.
Trump "was once again attacking the Venezuelan people and their democratic institutions, using a new form of coup d'etat based on miserable, vulgar and unfounded accusations," added Arreaza.
In an extremely rare criminal case against a foreign head of state, the United States Department of Justice charged Maduro and several of his top ministers after accusing him of leading a cocaine trafficking group called "The Cartel of the Suns."
The United States Department of State offered a reward of up to $ 15 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Maduro, whose country has been convulsed by years of deep economic crisis and political turmoil.
The indictment marks a serious new phase against Maduro by Washington at a time when some U.S. officials have said privately that Trump is increasingly frustrated with the results of his Venezuela policy.
The United States Attorney General, William Barr, in announcing charges including a drug trafficking conspiracy, corruption and drug trafficking, accused Maduro and his associates of colluding with a dissident faction of the demobilized Colombian armed group, the FARC, "to flood the United States with cocaine. " "
"While the Venezuelan people suffer, this clique fills their pockets with money from drug trafficking and the product of their corruption," Barr said of Maduro and the other defendants.
Maduro is already under U.S. sanctions and has been the target of a U.S. effort aimed at ousting him from power. He took office in 2013 after the death of his mentor, President Hugo Chávez, a staunch enemy of the United States.
Other Venezuelan officials whose accusations were announced Thursday are Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López, high-ranking socialist leader Diosdado Cabello, and the president of the country's supreme court, Maikel José Moreno Pérez, who was accused of money laundering. . The United States government is offering $ 10 million for information leading to the arrest of Cabello.
The United States and dozens of other countries have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela, considering Maduro's 2018 re-election as a sham. But Maduro has remained in power, backed by the country's military and by Russia, China and Cuba.
US officials have long accused Maduro and his associates or the operation of a "narco-state," saying they have used the proceeds of drugs shipped from neighboring Colombia to make up for the loss of revenue from the Venezuelan oil sector affected by heavy sanctions. from United States.