U.S. missed chance to woo generals
Around May 2017, an unusual request from a prominent Venezuelan general made its way to the White House: Gen. Ivan Hernndez, head of both the presidential guard and military counterintelligence, wanted to send his 3-year-old son to Boston for brain surgery and needed visas for his family.
After days of internal debate, the still young Trump administration rejected the request, seeing no point in helping a senior member of a socialist government that it viewed as corrupt and thuggish but wasn’t yet prepared to confront.
That decision, revealed to The Associated Press by a former U.S. official and another person familiar with the internal discussions, might have gone unnoticed if National Security Adviser John Bolton hadn’t admonished Hernandez this week on live TV as one of three regime insiders who backed out of a plan — allegedly at the last minute — to topple President Nicols Maduro.
It might also have been one of several missed opportunities to curry favor with Venezuela’s normally impenetrable armed forces.
The U.S. also rebuffed a back channel to the alleged ringleader of the would-be defectors, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez.