Recently, the socialist regime of Venezuela released a U.S. citizen named Joshua Holt, who spent almost two years kidnapped by the country’s military intelligence. He was falsely accused of being a CIA spy who was planning a coup against the infamous Dictator Nicolas Maduro.
On Twitter, President Donald Trump celebrated the end of a living hell that the 26-year-old man experienced in the Caribbean nation since June 30, 2016.
That day, Holt and his wife Thamara Caleno got arrested in Ciudad Caribia by members of the dreaded SEBIN, which is the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, known for being some kind of Venezuelan Gestapo that kills, torture, and makes people who oppose the socialist regime disappear.
According to local reports and the family of Caleno, agents of the SEBIN suddenly broke into their apartment and arrested them. When they were out of the apartment, some other agents planted a bunch of AK-47 rifles, some grenades, and different maps of Caracas in order to make the couple look as if they were preparing a violent operation against the regime.
After that moment, Holt spent two years in El Helicoide, which is the SEBIN’s prison and black site where most of the political prisoners are placed. Over the last few years, Human Rights organizations have claimed that this is also the location where the agents of the intelligence service torture and make some of the detainees vanish.
Holt’s situation became famous two weeks ago when political prisoners started a huge riot denouncing the inhuman conditions they were experiencing.
In a phone video that got leaked, Holt was begging for help and asked the Trump administration to get him out of that place.
According to local media, the 26-year-old man also managed to call his mother Laurie Moon Holt. She eventually explained that he told her that SEBIN agents were trying to kill him.
A couple of days ago, his freedom was finally achieved after a meeting between Maduro and Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who is the chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In addition to dealing with Holt’s situation, this meeting had more to do with the relationships between the U.S. government and the Venezuelan regime after the fraudulent presidential elections in which Maduro got elected with the highest abstention rate in Venezuela´s history.
After this infamous political event, the Trump administration responded with more sanctions while the socialist regime expelled the top two U.S. diplomats posted in Caracas. Eventually, Washington made the same action and announced that it wouldn’t recognize the elected government. This strong move was also made by the European Union and most of Latin American nations.
According to different reports, the reason why Maduro accepted the meeting with Corker was essentially because he’s desperately trying to halt the sanctions that the Trump administration has been imposing against some of the most important figures in the socialist regime.
Additionally, Maduro wants to roll back a really powerful sanction that President Trump imposed just recently: the prevention of sale of debt and other assets.
As reported by Business Insider, “the new order prohibits US citizens from involvement in the purchase of any debt owed to the Venezuelan government, including accounts receivable; debt owed to the government pledged as collateral after May 21; and the sale, transfer, assignment, or pledging as collateral by the Venezuelan government of any equity interest in any entity in which the government has an ownership interest of 50% or more.”
Naturally, the collateral damages that this move represents to the socialist regime is extremely hard since it destroys one of its most precious cards.
Getting to this point, what Corker is doing clearly clashes with the hardline stance that the Trump administration has shown with the socialist regime.
After all, the president has always been vocal about his feelings regarding the Venezuelan case, and has expressed his unwillingness to provide any sort of concession unless Maduro guarantees the release of every single political prisoner, the announcement of free and transparent presidential elections, and some other conditions that the socialist regime will refuse to fulfill.
What seems even more unexpected is that far from being a solo operation, what Corker did was supported by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is known for sharing the same views as President Trump on the Iranian nuclear deal, the North Korean problem, and especially the Venezuelan case.
As reported by Reuters, U.S. officials explained over the last few weeks that the socialist tyranny was essentially using Holt as nothing more than a bargaining chip in sanctions talks. While almost every single analyst agrees that Maduro provided a good signal by releasing the 26-year-old man, the truth is that President Trump shouldn’t change his aggressive stance against the regime.
Otherwise, he would be falling in Maduro’s trap by thinking that Holt’s release could be more than enough to give his illegitimate, socialist tyranny another chance by stopping further sanctions.
Just like some other rogue states, Venezuela has been able to dodge the international community’s wrath over the last few years by asking for a dialog in order to find a solution for the political, economic, and humanitarian crisis that the South American country is experiencing.
Of course, the calls for discussion between the ruling coalition and the Venezuelan opposition is something quite ironic considering that the socialist regime is the only party to blame for the widespread crisis that turned one of the richest democracies in the hemisphere in one of the poorest dictatorships.
In addition to having full control of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, this dictatorship also controls the media and every single military force in Venezuela, which has been used multiple times to brutally oppress the population and to kill, arrest, and torture protesters.
Unsurprisingly, the regime’s military muscle has also been exhibited by the fact that Venezuela is a nation with more than 300 political prisoners. This makes the calls for dialog a favor to Maduro and his band of narco-socialists.
Every single time this has happened, the socialist regime has managed to gain some more time in order to execute unconstitutional and illegal procedures to solidify its power and get some more oxygen by restoring its commercial and political ties with its main allies (Russia, China, Cuba, and Iran.)
Lamentably, the horrible mistake of pushing for dialog instead of executing sanctions took place on several opportunities during the Obama administration, and the results were that Venezuela eventually became one of the most disgraceful dictatorships of the 21st century.
The biggest mistake in this approach was that this administration and the countries involved never demanded the fulfillment of substantial conditions or the accomplishment of substantial goals. This way, the government had a long period of carte blanche.
While it’s important to have a backchannel with Caracas in order to keep looking for a diplomatic solution, the Trump administration cannot commit the same mistakes as the previous one.
After all, in addition to the way this would benefit the socialist tyranny, it would set the worst kind of precedent in a very agitated region: the idea that a tyrannical regime can easily rise and become a narco-state and a gigantic training camp for terrorist organizations as Hezbollah.
Over the last few years, the Maduro regime has proved that this isn’t one of those paradoxical cases where the solution to a certain crisis comes hand in hand with the tyranny’s stability. In fact, what has always happened, after every single dialog opportunity, has been a wider deterioration of every single problem that Venezuela already had.
As a matter of fact, the Venezuelan crisis has already shown its radioactive effect in some other nations of the region, including Colombia, which is the most important U.S. ally in this part of the world.
Fortunately, the Trump administration has the right perspective and an extraordinary efficiency in foreign policy, which makes it impossible to believe that this presidency will take the wrong approach with Maduro and his socialist regime.
In fact, another reason that makes this quite unlikely is President Trump’s unusual ability to keep his campaign promises, especially those regarding different kinds of conflicts with other countries around the globe.
On several opportunities during the presidential campaign and even after becoming president, the Republican not only attacked Maduro and his regime but also promised to restore democracy and make his biggest effort so Venezuela could be free again.
Naturally, Maduro is aware of this threatening reality and used Holt as a useful pawn to ease Washington’s aggressiveness and roll the diplomatic dice, waiting for a favorable outcome.
As a matter of fact, it is quite obvious that Maduro will keep using this kind of strategy in different opportunities, meaning that what happened with Holt will be repeated every time the socialist regime feels the heat.
While the Trump administration should definitely make efforts to liberate every innocent American that is illegally imprisoned abroad, this reality cannot change its aggressive behavior against rogue states as the Venezuelan.
If President Trump continues with the sanctions and keeps working with his allies in Latin America and Europe to isolate the socialist regime, the end of this really dark chapter could be imminent, preventing further unprecedented destabilization in the region.
Otherwise, if the Trump administration fails to handle the Venezuelan case properly, it will be a terrible defeat in which Russia and China will expand their influence right under America’s nose and establish a new Syria that the U.S. will have to deal with in its own backyard.
Luis Orozco is a Venezuelan journalist, offering Conservative Daily Post an inside view on how socialism turned a wealthy nation into a third-world hell.