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AP Explains: US Indicts Venezuela's Maduro as Narcoterrorist

March 27, 2020

The Trump administration has indicted Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro and more than a dozen members of his inner circle, stepping up measures to drive the socialist leader from power. U.S. prosecutors announced the charges Thursday, accusing Maduro of narcoterrorism. Washington backs opposition politician Juan Guaidó, who seeks to oust Maduro. The indictments come as Maduro has locked down Venezuela to halt the spread of the new coronavirus and as the oil-producing nation grapples with plunging global crude prices. Here is how the U.S. indictments fit into Venezuela’s tumultuous political, social and economic landscape...

Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society research center, said Friday that the indictments further isolate Maduro.

Farnsworth said that the criminal indictment doesn’t cut off the possibility of backchannel negotiating for Maduro’s exit. Rather, he said that the $15 million bounty for Maduro’s arrest creates incentive for him to consider abandoning Venezuela for a new life elsewhere.

“He’s got to be looking over his shoulder all the time,” Farnsworth said. “There’s a $15 million bounty on your head in a country that’s starving and awash with weapons. That is something he has to be even more mindful of.”...

Crashing global oil prices and the inability of the government to cope with the new coronavirus could prompt an uprising from within Maduro’s inner circle, possibly the military, analysts say.

“Venezuela is going to be a country that will look a lot different a year from now,” Farnsworth said.

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