President Trump has said “all options are on the table” as he looks at ways to divert Venezuela’s revenue from the Maduro regime and offer direct aid to Juan Guaidó’s newly established interim government, which the United States formally recognized on Jan. 23.
Having put sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, the administration should go one step further. One option the Trump administration should consider is to seize the assets of Maduro henchmen that are lying fallow in U.S. bank accounts and make them available to Guaidó’s new government as it becomes able to absorb them, while also repurposing a portion of those monies now to help the millions of Venezuelans who have been displaced from their homes and into neighboring countries.
One of the enduring ironies of Venezuela’s socialist experiment is that even as the country’s economy collapses and its people flee from hunger and disease, a small coterie of well-placed Venezuelans has grown astonishingly rich from corruption.
Two recent cases brought by the Justice Department offer clear examples. The indictment against media tycoon Raúl Gorrín seeks the forfeiture of 24 properties, including an $18 million Manhattan penthouse. Former presidential bodyguard and national treasurer Alejandro Andrade confessed in his guilty plea to receiving more than $1 billion in bribes. Both are accused of money laundering in relation to lucrative deals on Venezuela’s highly distorted currency exchange market.
There are millions, if not billions, of dollars in dirty money that Chavista insiders and generals have stashed abroad.