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Indictment of Maduro and Other Senior Venezuelan Officials

March 28, 2020

Episode Notes:

On Thursday the Justice Department filed three indictments and a criminal complaint alleging that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other senior Venezuelan officials, including the defense minister, the chief justice, and the head of the Constituent Assembly have engaged in drug trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy.  According to the indictments, Maduro has for years led a cartel which is responsible for attempts to flood the US market with cocaine.  The indictments come as the Trump administration has been increasingly vocal in its opposition to Maduro; the US does not recognize him as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

To discuss this issue, we are joined by Scott R. Anderson, a Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and Senior Fellow in the National Security Law Program at Columbia Law School.  Anderson is a former U.S. diplomat and experienced international lawyer, who previously served as an attorney-advisor for the U.S. Department of State and as the legal advisor for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. He has helped to represent the State Department in a number of litigation and international arbitration matters, including several before the U.S. Supreme Court. He is also a senior editor and counsel for the Lawfare blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @S_R_Anders


[ 01:30 ] What do we know about the investigation that went into these indictments? Was there a precipitating event that sparked them?

[ 03:22 ] Should we view these indictments as a criminal matter or as a political move the in efforts of the U.S. to delegitimize the Maduro administration?

[ 06:32 ] The indictments allege widespread criminality in all branches of the Venezuelan government. Does this make it more or less likely that the government will step down or otherwise be peacefully removed?

[ 08:47 ] Criminally indicting the sitting head of a foreign government is an unusual move. Is there precedent for such a step?

[ 12:28 ] Do these indictments open policy options to the US government that were previously unavailable?

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