“It is public knowledge that several members of the military have been arrested after smuggling uranium from Venezuela, and we believe Iran is one of the main destinations,” says would-be Venezuelan leader Juan Guaido.
“It is public knowledge that several members of the military have been arrested after smuggling uranium from Venezuela, and we believe Iran is one of the main destinations,” would-be Venezuelan leader Juan Guaido, told Israel Hayom over the weekend in an exclusive interview.
Guaido discussed his fears of being arrested by the regime of President Nicolas Maduro, sounded the alarm over Iran’s infiltration of the hit country, and also delivered a message to Jerusalem.
It stands to reason that the conversation with the 37-year-old Guaido occurred under the watchful eye of a local intelligence agency, now a routine part of life for the man who emerged to spearhead the fight against the Maduro regime and the United Socialist Party, yet another failed model of the populistic socialism that has gripped the country since 1999.
Some two years ago, after being chosen as the President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, Guaido rose to international prominence as the great new hope for his country. The people believed he possessed the key to changing the regime, which indeed brutalizes those oppose it with arrests, torture, and even executions.
The masses answered his calls and took to the streets, armed with the expectation and hope that the turning point was just around the corner. Even the international community recognized Guaido as the country’s interim president, including the European Union, United States, and Israel.
Now, the picture is completely different. The excitement has waned with time, international support has become ephemeral – even the EU stopped recognizing him as interim president – with only one thing remaining constant: Maduro and Chavezism.
“The Maduro regime has become a crime syndicate, while importing oil from Iran. At present, a preliminary investigation exists into uranium stockpiles in Venezuela and the countries to which this material could be sent,” Guaido reveals from his residence in the capital, Caracas. “There is a large reservoir of uranium in Venezuela that is smuggled from the country somehow, through illegal channels.”
The South American country has maintained close relations with Iran for years now, amid persisting rumors of cooperation with neighboring countries in the field of nuclear energy.
Describing the early stages of Iran’s foothold in Venezuela, Guaido says, “The Maduro dictatorship allowed Iran to enter. It started when [former President Hugo] Chavez began welcoming companies under sanctions by the US and other countries.”
In January 2019, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recognized Guaido as the country’s official leader, which remains Israel’s official position to this day.
Chavez severed relations between Israel and Venezuela in 2009 in the wake of the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
Today, Guaido is grateful and has a message for Jerusalem: “The government of Israel provides important diplomatic support in the war against the dictatorship,” he said.
Opposition members in Venezuela are in constant danger. Their lives are at the mercy of the “dictator,” as Guaido refers to Maduro. The United Nations has accused his regime of crimes against humanity. Guaido, for his part, is making efforts to win back international support.
He recently discussed with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken possible paths to “democracy and holding free elections,” but it still isn’t clear what position the Biden administration will take in terms of the humanitarian problem in Venezuela.
Asked about the looming threat of arrest hanging over his head, Guaido said he was aware of the peril but continues to be sure of his path and principles.
“The dictatorship’s threats exist, and it operates this way because the people don’t support it and it doesn’t have much support in the international community,” he explained.
“Venezuela’s only alternative is free elections and allowing a process for a legitimate government,” Guaido concludes.