Marco Rubio Gets the Last Laugh As Venezuela Is Slapped With Massive Sanctions

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with international observers invited by Venezuela’s electoral authority at the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, May 18, 2018. Maduro is seeking a new six-year mandate and, despite crippling hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine, he is widely expected to win it on May 20 in an election that opponents have denounced as a fraud and have been condemned by much of the international community. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

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Last August, Department of Homeland Security developed credible evidence that the head of Venezuela’s narco trafficking security forces, Diosdado Cabello Rondon, had ordered the assassination of Senator Marco Rubio. Cabello Rondon, it seems, was perturbed that Rubio was a vocal critic of Maduro’s monomaniacal vision of Venezuela as a dystopic narco empire and the Venezuelan political norm, other than assigning the security services to spy on them, is to assassinate your critics. Incredibly, there was no official response. But now Rubio has the last laugh. As Nicolas Maduro waved to cheering throngs in Caracas…

…the United States used the sham election as a reason to slam Venezuela with financial sanctions.

When one of Venezuela’s top leaders was suspected of conspiring to assassinate Florida Sen. Marco Rubio last year, the reaction of the United States was uncharacteristically tame.

Stiffer sanctions against Venezuela languished at the National Security Council. And Diosdado Cabello Rondon, the vice president of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, wasn’t touched by targeted sanctions even though the U.S. government has accused him of being a narco-trafficker.

But all of that changed in the past five days as Mike Pompeo, President Trump’s new Secretary of State, and National Security Adviser John Bolton began flexing their muscles in the run-up to Sunday’s elections in Venezuela — elections that the U.S. government called a “sham” perpetrated by “kleptocracy.”

On Friday, Cabello and his relatives had his assets frozen by the U.S. Treasury, and on Monday further U.S. investments in Venezuela were limited as the one-two punch of sanctions heralded a hawkish new era for the Trump administration, while revealing an enhanced role for Rubio as a Trump foreign policy emissary and ally.

Rubio, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, credited Pompeo, Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for changing the direction of U.S. policy in the region to further isolate Venezuela’s totalitarian leader, Nicolás Maduro. And he took a not-so-subtle shot at former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his allies for almost scuttling the sanctions.

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I have no idea about how long Maduro can hold out but I think Rubio gets the outcome correct:

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