‘These tyrants fancy themselves strongmen and revolutionaries, icons and luminaries…’
(Franco Ordonez, McClatchy Washington Bureau) The White House will no longer appease “dictators and despots” in Latin America, national security adviser John Bolton said in a Miami speech that welcomed new right-leaning leaders and put three leftist governments on notice.
Referring to Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as the “troika of tyranny,” Bolton blamed them for causing “immense” human suffering and regional instability in the countries, and fostering communism in the region.
He called the leaders of those countries “clowns” and said the United States “looks forward to watching” their governments fall.
“These tyrants fancy themselves strongmen and revolutionaries, icons and luminaries,” Bolton said, according to remarks prepared for delivery. “In reality they are clownish, pitiful figures more akin to Larry, Curly and Moe. The ‘Three Stooges’ of socialism are true believers, but they worship a false God.”
Bolton delivered the aggressive speech to Cuban and Venezuelan expats at the Freedom Tower in Miami, while announcing that President Donald Trump had signed a new executive order that will allow sanctions against Venezuela’s gold industry, which Bolton said the Venezuelan government has used to finance criminal operations.
Bolton paid particular attention to Cuba’s role in Venezuela, stating that many in the audience have personally suffered “unspeakable horrors” by their homeland governments. They fought back and now their descendants can live the American Dream, he said.
Harkening back to President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil,” Bolton’s attacks on the three nations reflect an increasing aggression toward leftist autocrats that President Trump has touched on during international speeches to the United Nations and other international forums.
Trump’s supporters, who have long argued for a stronger position against Latin America, will likely praise the aggressive tone, but it may also heighten existing concerns that the United States is reviving a narrative promoted by leftist governments that the U.S. is the imperialist bully bent on punishing Latin American governments that don’t do its bidding.
“There is no glamor in gulags and labor camps, in death squads and propaganda machines, in mass executions and in the sound of terrorizing screams from the depths of the world’s most notorious prisons,” Bolton said.
The U.S. government has already sanctioned 70 officials, including Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and restricted U.S. investment and financial transactions, including those involving Venezuela’s new digital currency.
A senior administration official said the U.S. will tighten sanctions against Cuban military and intelligence services, including expanding the list of Cuban companies that can be sanctioned.
In an interview with the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald, Bolton confirmed that the White House is considering allowing thousands of Cuban Americans to sue in U.S. courts foreign companies and others who now control real estate on the island that was seized from them by the Cuban government.
As first reported by McClatchy, the White House has discussed the proposal with Sen. Marco Rubio and other South Florida lawmakers who have been pushing the administration to take more concrete steps against Cuba.
Venezuela sits on the world’s largest oil reserves, but the once powerful nation has plummeted into a deepening economic crisis amid rising inflation.
Bolton has long advocated for stronger restrictions against Cuba. In 2002, as undersecretary of state in the Bush administration, he accused Havana of trying to develop biological weapons, and added Cuba to a list of “axis of evil” countries.”
“The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort,” Bolton said at the time.
Bolton also signaled that the United States was pleased by the elections of “like minded leaders” such as newly elected right-wing leaders Ivan Duque in Colombia and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil while failing to acknowledge the more liberal Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
For those farther to the left such as Nicolas Maduro, Daniel Ortega and Miguel Diaz-Canel: “Their day of reckoning awaits.”
“The troika will crumble,” Bolton said.
(Nora Gamez Torres of el Nuevo Herald contributed to this report.)
©2018 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.