U.S. missed chance to woo gen­er­als

The News-Times - - NATION/WORLD -

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.

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