Maduro’s ‘Blacklist’ Forces Dissidents To Flee Venezuela

Former local Venezuelan politician Brian Fincheltub knows the hardships facing his failing state and the danger of speaking out against its leadership. He fled Venezuela in October 2018 after he was threatened with incarceration by President Nicolas Maduro’s government for attempting to challenge a Maduro supporter in a local election.

Instead of millions flying out of our country, we should kick out 100 people that have our country kidnapped, Brian Fincheltub

He never had the chance to run. He, along with other political dissidents, were placed on a blacklist by the government and like others in similar situations feared their lives were in danger.

Fincheltub said the Maduro government has ‘kidnapped’ the Venezuelan people.

“I think the story should be different,” said Fincheltub, who is now working in Washington D.C. at the Venezuelan Embassy. “Instead of millions flying out of our country, we should kick out 100 people that have our country kidnapped. That’s what I think.”

Maduro’s socialist policies have resulted in a mass exodus of 4 million people, according to the United Nations. Those who remain are fighting for their lives as resources such as food and medicine grow scarce.

Maduro And Colombia

Currently, Maduro has put his military on alert ahead of exercises along the border with Colombia.He is accusing Colombian President Ivan Duque of plotting retaliatory attacks as tensions rise between the two countries.

“Colombia’s government doesn’t want peace,” Maduro said during a nationally televised military ceremony Tuesday.

“It wants war,” he said. “It wants violence.”

Duque is accusing Maduro of harboring armed rebels. In Venezuela, life for civilians has become increasingly more dangerous because of the escalating tensions.

Fincheltub has hope but he says the present situation is grim for the Venezuelan people. He is proud to be a Venezuelan but describes the current situation as a “nightmare.” 

“This is something that should’ve never have been happened,” said Ficheltub. 

“I dedicated my life to social work”

Fincheltub fled the country “due to persecution like thousands of other Venezuelans.”

Since he was 17, he has dedicated his life to social work. It started while working with youth in a town called Sucre, which houses the biggest slum in Latin America called Petare.

“There, I started working with the mayor (Carlos Ocariz) of the city and I first was in charge of the youth,” he recalled. “We did many social programs, gave scholarships to thousands of young leaders that before they didn’t have the opportunity to go to college.” 

His passion for empowering youth became a career as he continued his path as the city’s director of sports activities. Fincheltub told this reporter that the area was so dangerous “even our policemen couldn’t get in,” but his goal was to “cut the violence down.”

“While in the whole country the homicides went up 25 percent, we put them down in 45 percent and that, in our country, is such a difficult duty because we are opposition we were not from the government so all the efforts with it were by our own,” Fincheltub explained.

It was his “dream” to run for mayor, and after Ocariz announced his run for governor of the state of Miranda Fincheltub could run his campaign, “but in October, the government cheated in the governors election.”

From then on, the opposition became a target.

“The government cheats in the elections so the opposition retire. We didn’t want to be part of their show to put our name there so they say ‘wow you see we did fair elections and they lost.’ No. No one participated. They did a fake show of elections,” Fincheltub said.

“We don’t have justice”

After he dropped from the mayoral ticket, Fincheltub began hearing rumors that Maduro was composing a judicial order against members of Ocariz’s team. Fincheltub made a choice to then flee the country.

“It was a very hard decision because, like I told you, it was not what i choose it was what i could do and I preferred to go out because I think I can do much more being free and talking about what’s happening in our country finding solutions than being on a jail being like a hostage because that’s the truth.” said Fincheltub, “They use prisoners as hostages of these sick people so that’s the reason I’m here in the United States.”

Guaido’s “Country Plan”

Fincheltub told me that he doesn’t plan to stay in the U.S. forever, but, for now he’s working with interim President Juan Guaido’s administration at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington D.C. with Ambassador Carlos Vecchio He said the Venezuelan people and the international community should know that Guaido will deliver a plan for the betterment of Venezuela.

Guaido, however, is not braving the storm alone, Fincheltub said he’s recruiting experts to take on some of the country’s greatest issues. Fincheltub recognized the significance of an “international effort,” specifically the U.S. plan “to support the reconstruction of Venezuela.” He told me he’s grateful for the “bipartisan support,” which he said is vital.

His message to the Trump Administration is “keep with this determination because it’s not only a problem for Venezuela, or the Venezuelans.”

“Today, the problem of Venezuela is a problem for the continent, and also for the world because even though the ones that are most suffering are the Venezuelans, the big consequence that these kinds of regimes can do to the world are very very dangerous,” he added.

He also told me that the U.S. simply “cannot allow” Maduro’s regime to continue developing close friendships with Iran and Hezbollah.

“This is a fight of freedom against dictatorship and that’s the battle that we’re facing today in Venezuela,” Fincheltub concluded.

Trump Talks With Maduro

According to a report by Fox News’ Ellison Barber, Washington and Caracas are engaging in “high level” talks as the Trump administration continues to put pressure on the Maduro regime.

Earlier this month, President Trump instituted a sweeping economic embargo as part of a continued sanctions package. Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton who echoed this on Twitter this week, “As the President has repeatedly stated, to end the pilfering of the Venezuelan people’s resources and continued repression, Maduro must go,” he said, “The only items discussed by those who are reaching out behind Maduro’s back are his departure and free and fair elections.”

Barber’s report also highlighted the U.S. is providing humanitarian aid through the U.S. Southern Command’s deployment of the USNS Comfort, a vessel providing medical care and surgeries to those in need off the Colombian shore.