Varela to Maduro: “traitors” around, shun officials with valid US visas
By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- There are “traitors” in the embattled Nicolas Maduro administration, Prison Minister Iris Varela warned Venezuela's de facto leader on Thursday. She added that Maduro would do wisely in shunning officials of his regime that still hold valid U.S. visas.
The bunker mentality that has descended on Chavismo has certainly taken a turn for the worst over the years, particularly after National Assembly President Juan Guaido claimed the title of interim President on January 23rd and the U.S. strengthened and multiplied sanctions against regime officials which started being implemented in 2008.
Hundreds of Maduro officials and their family members with the regime have had their US visas annulled since but most intensely since Donald Trump, an avid Maduro critic, became president in early 2017.
“I ask the president (Maduro) to be careful around those that still have U.S. visas, a person that this late in the game still has a US visa is not to be trusted to be by the side of commander Nicolas Maduro,” Varela said during an appearance in VTV, the state television network. “That’s what I do ask always…of the president of the Republic, take care of yourself…there are traitors still around, there are people who have a price.”
As a result of U.S. pressure combined with Guaido’s offers of amnesty to officials (including police and military) that abandon Maduro, some 1,500 individuals have broken ranks with the regime since February 23rd. Some high ranking defections started even before that, with Attorney General Luisa Ortega turning her back on Maduro in early 2017, during a live TV broadcast.