It is essential to point out that the majority of Venezuelans who have come to our shores seeking refuge are honest victims of the Chavista kleptocracy.
Merely having made money in Venezuela does not make one dishonest.
As for the term “Boligarchs,” Venezuelans refer to those who have wittingly benefited from the looting of their nation, who have amassed fortunes exceeding $1-2 billion, in many cases, from illegitimate awards of government contracts, from kickbacks and other gifts to government officials and from other unethical and immoral activities.
The destruction of Venezuelan society is the result of the Venezuelans’ own actions: Those that for the past 14 years have governed by failed policies based on Marxist ideology and class hatred. Those who did not dare speak out in time against the authoritarianism and thievery of Chávez and his cronies. And those who disregarded any sense of morality and instead exploited the absence of the rule of law to build huge fortunes on the backs of their fellow countrymen.
The United States does not bear the responsibility for the Venezuelan tragedy.
But we would be complicit if we remained silent to the looting, especially when we know where much of the money is, and that many of these looters are today enjoying the peace and security that the rule of law underpins in our country.
The U.S. government must stop providing refuge to Chávez’s business partners in the United States. Federal officials know who they are.
Otto Reich is a former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs and U.S. ambassador in Venezuela. Ezequiel Vazquez-Ger is a member of the nonprofit organization Americas Forum for Freedom and Prosperity.