Venezuela’s roiling crisis just became far more complicated for the country’s political opposition and exponentially more unsettling for the United States. On Jan. 4, President Nicolas Maduro reshuffled his Cabinet and named a new vice president, Tareck El Aissami, a man who has reportedly helped forge back-channel links for Caracas to terrorists and drug traffickers.
Until now, Washington has mostly treated Venezuela’s dramatic social and economic disintegration as a matter to be watched from afar: troubling, to be sure, but without very significant repercussions beyond its own borders or neighborhood. But the appointment of El Aissami means that the next U.S. presidential administration, and other countries, will find it more difficult to ignore Venezuela.
Until being appointed vice president, El Aissami was governor of the state of Aragua. Before that he was minister of the interior and justice. Always a very close ally to the late President Hugo Chavez and a militant Chavista, El Aissami’s new job, and the mountain of allegations about his previous activities, significantly change the country’s outlook.