On top of everything else, Maduro’s arrest warrant has come in the middle of a global economic crisis unleashed by a drop in the price of oil, the bankruptcy of U.S. oil companies and the collapse of the world’s major stock markets.
Just as the United States becomes the country with the highest number of coronavirus infections at 100,717 cases and more than 1,544 deaths, taking it past China where the outbreak began, it faces one of its worst ever health and economic crises, something which is also threatening to destabilize the legacy and reelection of President Donald Trump.
The U.S. Justice Department and the Trump administration have issued an arrest warrant for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on charges of drug trafficking, at the same time announcing a $15 million reward for information leading to his arrest.
It is a murky, populist maneuver that clearly has one eye on Trump’s reelection campaign and is surely intended to divert attention from the economic crisis the “empire” is currently facing as a result of the spread of the coronavirus.
It’s an arrest warrant that will provoke a political and media storm in Latin America, and will also have a powerful impact on the Latin American community in the United States; a political move that will get the Republican ball rolling after Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s success in Florida, making him Trump’s near certain opponent in the race for the White House.
On top of everything else, Maduro’s arrest warrant has come in the middle of a global economic crisis unleashed by a drop in the price of oil, the bankruptcy of U.S. oil companies and the collapse of the world’s major stock markets, three events that present a serious threat to Trump’s legacy and reelection.
It is a politically perverse move by the Trump administration, from the Evangelist and Zionist wings of the Republican Party and from the Cuban-American camp headed by Sen. Marco Rubio to distract from the mess of the economic crisis.
One of the sectors hardest hit economically is the oil industry – allies of the government and key to its reelection – since given the fall in oil prices, it is among the biggest losers. As a result, its success depends on fracking, given that the price of a barrel of oil must be more than $60 to be profitable.
Several oil companies have gone bankrupt because of the price drop, and thousands of U.S. citizens have lost their jobs.
In the last five years, 192 American oil and gas producers have declared bankruptcy.
On Monday, March 16, when the world’s major stock markets crashed, Occidental Petroleum, one of the biggest oil companies in the United States, saw the price of its shares fall and was forced to cut its dividend by 90% and reduce its capital expenditures.
On the same day, the Dow Jones Index fell by 12.9%, its biggest daily decline in the last three decades and the second biggest in the Dow’s 124-year history, accumulating losses that wiped out all the gains that had accrued since Trump arrived in the White House.
Undoubtedly, the economic crisis is threatening to destroy Trump’s legacy, to the extent that the Federal Reserve has bought more than $75 billion of Treasury securities and $700 billion in assets in order to ensure liquidity in the market.
The U.S. Senate approved a $2.2 trillion rescue plan, the biggest in recent history, to tackle the crisis and the requests for assistance from America’s 3.3 million unemployed citizens.
With this in mind, provoking a scandal with an arrest warrant for President Maduro, an ally of Russia and China in Latin America, acts as a balm for Trump, which he hopes will yield returns from Latino voters.
I have been a critic of the Maduro regime, but this is all part of an “anything goes” set-up and strategy in the best tradition of Uncle Sam, and it should be heartily opposed.