Venezuela’s Ex-Spy Chief Rejects Maduro, Accusing Leader’s Inner Circle of Corruption

Venezuela’s Ex-Spy Chief Rejects Maduro, Accusing Leader’s Inner Circle of Corruption

CARACAS, Venezuela — A former intelligence chief in Venezuela who is one of the government’s most prominent figures turned against President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday, calling him a dictator with a corrupt inner circle that has engaged in drug trafficking and courted the militant group Hezbollah.

In interviews with The New York Times, the former intelligence chief, Hugo Carvajal, 58, who is a congressman in the governing Socialist Party, urged the military to break with the president ahead of a showdown with the opposition on Saturday over Mr. Maduro’s blockade of aid shipments on the country’s borders.

“It has been more than enough,” Mr. Carvajal said in a statement, which was also released in a video online on Thursday and addressed to Mr. Maduro. “You have killed hundreds of young people in the streets for trying to claim the rights you stole. This without even counting the dead for lack of medicines and security.”

“To the generals,” he added, “how is it that having the power to allow the entry of international humanitarian aid to our country to save lives, you would decide not to? Would you be so inhuman? So hypnotized?”

The strong words come amid a wave of other defections by government officials, including a top air force official, diplomats, military attachés and members of the national guard. This break with the regime, by a man who once guarded its secrets as intelligence chief, adds a dose of unexpected pressure on the president just three days before the confrontation over aid at the border with Colombia.

Mr. Carvajal’s accusations also added a new twist to the unfolding drama: A willingness to provide evidence that could be used against Mr. Maduro’s government should it fall. Mr. Carvajal also provided a valuable weapon to the opposition, which for years has contended that the president’s inner circle has ties to drug runners and militants.

After the drugs were confiscated, Mr. Carvajal said, he received an unusual call that said the military had determined that the shipment did not contain drugs after all — which he interpreted as an attempt to return the shipment to Mr. Makled.

Mr. Carvajal said he was able to countermand the decision.

He said Mr. El Aissami and Mr. Reverol were “directly responsible,” accusing the men of taking kickbacks for turning a blind eye to drug trafficking.

Mr. Carvajal also accused Mr. Reverol of having allowed drug-laden planes to land during Mr. Reverol’s watch as head of the antidrug agency. He said that in one case in 2012, he called Mr. Reverol to report seeing a suspicious, low-flying aircraft outside Caracas. Mr. Reverol did nothing, Mr. Carvajal said, and the plane continued.

Source link