With pretty much universal agreement that Washington's covert as well as politically overt support for pro-coup forces in Venezuela has utterly failed, and with an oil embargo still active but not showing signs of actually loosening Nicolas Maduro's grip on power (instead only increasing the mystery of the common populace in the socialist country), the White House is really reaching down to its last ditch options in its regime change playbook, short of war.
A new Miami Herald report details the Trump administration "appears willing to offer guarantees to Nicolas Maduro that the U.S. will leave him alone if he leaves Venezuela." Sources cited in the story dubiously claim Maduro is "looking for an exit" and that the White House is mulling giving him "guarantees" of escaping war crimes indictment should he hand over power to opposition leader Juan Guaido of his own accord.
The "possible" "maybe" "perhaps" guarantee would be that the Trump administration would "consider" not bringing international human rights and war crimes related charges against Maduro if he exits power - tantamount to a "safety guaranteed" or 'get out of jail free' card of sorts.
A source identified as a high ranking Trump admin official told the Miami Herald:
“I think Maduro perhaps is looking for an exit, but he doesn’t know what it looks like, he does not know if there are guarantees to that. I believe he still thinks that if he goes to, let’s say, the Dominican Republic, we are going to come in and indict him and go after him.”
But the official followed with: “I think that’s the concern and that’s the only thing there’s room for negotiation with Maduro.”
The "high level" administration source spoke as if the offer has already been made, or is on the table, but given the number of caveats he used in framing the "guarantee" to the Herald, we seriously doubt Maduro will find it an attractive inducement to step down, now six months following his emerging clearly victorious from a Guado-led coup effort that only managed to peel off a tiny fraction of the Venezuelan armed forces' officers.
"The official urged the Venezuelan leader to take advantage of the offer before it is too late," the report continued.
Seeming to address Maduro directly in the interview with south Florida's most visible paper, the official continued:
“The time has come to say, this is the opportunity you have, and we are willing to negotiate to close this chapter, but your opportunity is closing because now even the United Nations has created a case that could be used against you at The Hague.”
And added, “My concern is that it becomes a disincentive for him to find a way out. What we want to offer is ... this should be your chance to turn the page, now, before it’s too late.”
It's the latest apparent overture following June remarks by Trump indicating he'd grown "frustrated" and "bored" with pursuing regime change in Caracas. According to the former official who spoke to the Washington Post at the time, Trump had thought of Venezuela "as low-hanging fruit" on which he could "get a win and tout it as a major foreign policy victory."
"Five or six months later . . . it’s not coming together," said the Post's alleged source. The report had detailed how the president quickly cooled on regime change in Venezuela, and believed that national security adviser John Bolton "got played" along with the director for Latin American Policy, Mauricio Claver-Carone, following the unsuccessful attempt at a coup by opposition leader Juan Guaidó.