Here’s a surprise twist we didn’t see coming in the Venezuelan implosion saga. There’s a new visitor freshly arrived in Washington with some tales to tell and he probably knows plenty. His name is General Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera and he was about as far into Venezuelan tyrant Nicolas Maduro’s inner circle as you could get. Until recently he ran the country’s highly feared secret police, the SEBIN. Before Maduro took power, Figuera spent a decade as the chief of security for his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. He reportedly studied his craft under communist spymasters in Castro’s Cuba. So this guy was on the inside.
But when Juan Guaido declared himself interim president and attempted to prod the military into revolt, Figuera jumped ship and backed Guaido. After the overthrow failed he went into hiding in Colombia, where he remained until now. But he’s in Washington and he’s ready to talk. (Washington Post)
And yet, when the U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó announced his uprising April 30 to oust Maduro, Figuera emerged as a surprise conspirator — and, as the uprising failed, a man suddenly sprinting for his life into the hands of U.S. operatives in neighboring Colombia.
After nearly two months in hiding here in the Colombian capital, protected around the clock by a security detail, Figuera arrived in the United States on Monday armed with allegations about Maduro’s government: The illicit gold deals. The Hezbollah cells working in Venezuela. The extent of Cuban influence inside Maduro’s Miraflores Palace.
The uprising failed, and Maduro remains in power. But Figuera doesn’t regret turning against his boss.
If you click through to the full story it will be worth your while. It’s a long tale of intrigue surrounding how Figuera was recruited for the opposition, soundling like it could have come straight out of a Brad Thor novel. But this is real world stuff. Figuera is revealing all sorts of details about Maduro’s corrupt gold transfer schemes, the presence of Hezbollah cells in Venezuela, the involvement of the Russians and Cuban military assets in the country.
But there’s a problem with hoisting Figuera upon the shoulders of Washington and praising him for turning on his old boss. As the head of the SEBIN, the man was in charge of a lot of beastly, dirty work, including torturing some of Maduro’s critics and making people “disappear.” He’s one of the targeted individuals who had personal sanctions placed on them by Trump. In short, in the middle of a viper’s nest of seriously bad dudes, this dude was among the worst.
I suppose you can forgive him a bit if he’s really dishing out a lot of intelligence that will help us going forward. But we also can’t afford to lionize him. Our new prize turncoat was a seriously bad man in Venezuela.