President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview last week that President Joe Biden should take more action to prevent drug trafficking out of Venezuela, suggesting that Biden’s decision to “negotiate oil” with the repressive Venezuelan socialist regime may be negatively impacting law enforcement efforts.
Giammattei spoke to Breitbart News’ Ashley Oliver in Washington, DC, last week, during a visit to address the Organization of American States (OAS), the 2022 International Religious Freedom Conference, and for meetings with Biden administration officials, among other appearances. In addition to discussing the transnational drug trade, Giammattei broached a wide range of topics including his advocacy for defending unborn children and communications woes with Vice President Kamala Harris, the White House’s point person on southern border policy.
Regarding drug trafficking, Giammattei, who previously ran Guatemala’s prison system, asserted that his conservative government is acting to intercept drug shipments to the best of its ability.
“You want to know how much we have seized in drugs just this year, from January to now?” he asked. “Poppy plants, we have passed 9 million. Kilos of cocaine, over 1,213 kilos of cocaine. Since I became president we have extradited 82 people for drug trafficking to the United States and 21 people for other crimes. Unprecedented statistics.”
Giammattei insisted that the blame for America’s drug problem lay with America.
“The fault is here and I will explain why: 50 percent of the drugs consumed in the world are consumed here. The pushers in the streets selling drugs, where does that money end up? In the banks here.”
“When we see every day the planes [with drug shipments] come down in Venezuela – which, it is known that in Venezuela is where the planes come down; which, there are negotiations with Maduro now,” he continued, “I hope they negotiate so that planes don’t leave with drugs from there – but 95 percent of the planes land in Venezuela and they come empty.”
The planes from Venezuela, Giammattei insisted, “don’t bring money, they come empty and they fly with drugs. Where is the money? Here. Here we have to control consumption and money laundering. Where? in the United States.”
“The effort of the United States to combat drugs has to begin with campaigns here and with partners there, us, working so that it doesn’t happen,” he concluded, asking, “why, if we know where the planes leave from, why has the United States done nothing to stop planes from leaving from Venezuela?”
“Ah! They are negotiating oil,” Giammattei observed.
The Guatemalan president referred to reports first surfacing in March that the Biden administration had sent envoys to Caracas to discuss buying Venezuelan oil with socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro. America does not formally recognize Maduro as the president of the country because, as per the Venezuelan constitution, he lost that title in 2019 when the National Assembly used its power to swear in Juan Guaidó as interim president. Nonetheless, Maduro confirmed in March that he had met with representatives from the White House for a “respectful, cordial, diplomatic” discussion.
Reports citing anonymous sources at the time claimed that the American diplomats were in Caracas to discuss the potential of lifting sanctions on Maduro’s oil industry and buying Venezuela’s product to replace Russian oil imports. Much of the West has advocated for, though not implemented, a boycott on Russian oil and natural gas in response to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Maduro is heavily indebted to Moscow, however, meaning any profits he makes selling oil to Washington would likely be used to pay off Russian loans, profiting the Kremlin, anyway.
The potential purchase of Venezuelan oil outraged Hispanic Americans across the political spectrum given Maduro’s years of human rights abuses against his own people, including killing child protesters, torturing political prisoners, and starving much of the population into one of the largest migrations in human history.
Giammattei’s claims of drug trafficking out of Venezuela are heavily corroborated by years of reports and indictments by international researchers, the U.S. Department of Justice, and other legal entities. Law enforcement reports and other evidence has for years indicated that of Maduro’s top officials, socialist propagandist Diosdado Cabello, is likely the head of one of the largest transnational cocaine trafficking outlets in the world, the Cartel de los Soles. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has referred to Cabello as the “Pablo Escobar of Venezuela.” Cabello has responded to the accusations with failed litigation.
Another of Maduro’s most prominent officials, Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami, is facing multiple charges of drug trafficking in the United States.
“He facilitated shipments of narcotics from Venezuela, to include control over planes that left from a Venezuelan air base and drug routes through the ports in Venezuela,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asserted in a 2019 profile of El Aissami, declaring him a “most wanted” criminal. “In his previous positions, he oversaw or partially owned narcotics shipments of more than 1,000 kilograms from Venezuela on multiple occasions, including those with the final destinations of Mexico and the United States.”
The U.S. Treasury accused El Aissami in 2017, when he served as vice president of Venezuela, of having ties to groups “as varied as the Mexican Zetas cartel and Hezbollah.”
The State Department is offering $15 million for information leading to Maduro’s arrest, personally.
“Maduro helped manage, and ultimately, lead the Cartel of the Suns, a Venezuelan drug-trafficking organization comprised of high-ranking Venezuelan officials,” the State Department announced in 2020, “as he gained power in Venezuela in a corrupt and violent narco-terrorism conspiracy with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.”
Biden removed the FARC from the terror list last year.
“Maduro negotiated multi-ton shipments of FARC-produced cocaine; directed the Cartel of the Suns to provide military-grade weapons to the FARC;” State continued, “during his tenure as Foreign Minister coordinated foreign affairs with Honduras and other countries to facilitate large-scale drug trafficking; and solicited assistance from FARC leadership in training an unsanctioned militia group that functioned, in essence, as an armed forces unit for the Cartel of the Suns.”
Maduro announced last week that he had received another delegation from the Biden administration, but did not address the discussions.
In conversation with Breitbart News, Giammattei insisted that he would not negotiate with Maduro, who his country also does not recognize as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.Matt Perdie / Breitbart News
“I could see myself [struggling] with many needs, but I would not make a pact with the devil,” Giammattei said. “Going to buy oil from Venezuela, from Maduro who has committed crimes against the Venezuelan people, who has the biggest immigration, that is negotiating with the devil and that is breaking with [my] principles.”