Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry Wednesday showed his affection for Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, who is currently wanted by the United States for narcoterrorism.
Maduro, who usurped Venezuela’s presidency in 2018, is considered an illegitimate president by over 50 countries, including the US. He is known to have led the Cartel of the Suns, a drug cartel involving Venezuelan officials and terrorist organization Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC). As Venezuela’s foreign minister, Maduro coordinated large-scale cocaine operations with Honduras and, with FARC’s assistance, commissioned the cartel’s own militia.
In March 2020 the Trump administration officially declared Maduro wanted for narcoterrorism and offered a $15 million reward for information leading to Maduro's arrest and/or capture. Maduro’s wanted status, and the reward offer, remain in full effect.
According to the US State Department, Maduro is wanted “for narco-terrorism, conspiracy to import cocaine, possession of machine guns and destructive devices, and conspiracy to possess machine guns and destructive devices in violation of Title 21 U.S.C. §§ 960a and 963, and 18 U.S.C. § 924.”
As reported by Amnesty International, a UN Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Venezuela “established there were reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela since 2014 and that President Maduro and senior military and ministerial figures ordered or contributed to the crimes documented in its report.”
But at this week’s COP27 climate conference in Egypt, Kerry was seen speaking affectionately with Maduro off to the side, the two men warmly shaking hands and laughing together.
The Biden administration began cozying up to Maduro this year in the hopes of buying oil after Biden obstructed American oil production and killed the Keystone XL pipeline. In March the Biden administration sent a delegation to Caracas to persuade the OPEC-member country to supply the U.S. with oil in exchange for lifted sanctions. The U.S. government placed sanctions on Venezuela in 2017 due to human rights abuses by Maduro.
Biden has also been courting two other OPEC members who are known for their human rights abuses: Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, is being wooed aggressively by the Biden administration. The White House has even gone so far as to protect the Islamic country from indictment after confirmed plots to assassinate high-level U.S. officials, reported Frontline News.