"Argentina is experiencing an interesting process of change"
Former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton spoke exclusively with LPO. He criticizes Biden for the war and for Venezuela. The course of the Republican primary.

As weeks go by, the possibility of Joe Biden and Donald Trump facing each other again for the presidency of the United States in 2024 begins to crystallize. Against both protagonists is the figure of John Bolton, who in less than a week lashed out at the Democrats' strategy in the war in Ukraine, and at the same time that, whatever it takes, the Republican Party must avoid a second term in the White House of former real estate developer.

Bolton was Deputy Attorney General during the Ronald Reagan government, Ambassador to the UN under George W. Bush and National Security Adviser under Trump. His story is that of a privileged witness to politics and diplomacy in Washington over the past three decades.

In conversation with LPO, he analyzes the state of the bilateral relationship between the US and Mexico, he gives his opinion on current affairs in Latin America and comments on the course of war in Europe.

Fentanyl trafficking has become a central issue on the security agenda between Mexico and the United States. What do you think of the ongoing joint actions undertaken by both governments?

Mexico and the United States must be allies and friends because we have a common border. Obviously, there are long-standing problems that affect, for example, fentanyl, illegal migration or drug trafficking, and people being transferred to the border from Central America.

From its position, the US must analyze what it can propose to solve them, but it must always consider Mexico's position and what those actions imply for Mexico and its rule of law.

Is President Andrés Manuel López Obrador an ally of the United States on these issues?

In the United States some people have overreacted to this issue. I think there is legitimate criticism of López Obrador's policies, but raising the use of the armed forces in Mexico, especially without the participation of the Mexican military, it is something that does not make sense.

Senators and congressmen of the Republican Party propose so...

The only possibility of such a scenario would be for Mexico to ask for military support, and for it to be a joint effort with the United States as has happened in the past during the George W. Bush administration. Ultimately, all the violence that the cartels generate in Mexico and that damages civil society in Mexico also damages the United States.

In order to move forward, it is necessary that both governments, in all their instances, dialogue and not question each other.

"Argentina is experiencing an interesting process of change"

Do you think the Biden administration's strategy in Venezuela is too permissive with Chavismo?

Biden has been ineffective in Venezuela, just as I regret that during the Trump administration we were not able to help the Venezuelan people who suffer the Nicolás Maduro regime.

It is very evident that both Maduro and his main officials are earning a lot of money from their links to drug trafficking - already since the time of Hugo Chávez - to which is added the presence of Russia and China in Venezuela, which implies a problem for the hemisphere.

I think the best way out would be to reactivate what was raised by the Lima Group in 2018 and 2019, and be very firm that Maduro is an illegitimate president. This must be ratified by the main West governments at the same time that the people of Venezuela are assisted.

Was it a mistake that the Trump administration have bet on Juan Guaidó to lead an eventual democratic transition?

From here, it is very difficult to say who can lead the democratic path in Venezuela. What we saw when I was in the White House is that Guaidó was the first anti-Chavismo person who had the possibility of unifying the entire opposition, something that had never happened since the beginning of the Chávez administration.

Was Guaidó the best person for that process? I don't know, especially due to the complexity of the situation in Venezuela and the challenges he had to face, especially with regard to the support expected from other countries in the region, such is the case of Colombia.

Now the fact is that Maduro is still in power and the opposition is once again divided in part by the policies of both Trump and Biden, who think they can negotiate an electoral process with Maduro, when we know that the elections will never be free while Maduro rules.

Perhaps Guaidó's time is up. But I think that he did a good job in an extremely complicated context.

Does the assassination of the presidential candidate in Ecuador reflect a moment of instability in South America?

I think there is a risk of instability in South America. It is reflected in the assassination of the Ecuadorian candidate at the hands of criminal groups, or the involvement of China in highly corrupt leftist regimes.

On the other hand, Argentina is in the process of what could be an important change, and that has to do with an ideal for the region, which is that people can express themselves in free elections.

The United States must spare no effort to limit China's influence in the region, the same it has in Africa and Asia. It is an influence that goes for business in food issues, production of raw material, energy, businesses that are positive for China but not for the countries of the region.

Last year you provoked responses from some governments in the region when you told CNN anchor Jack Tapper that you had staged coups.

Tapper asked me if what Trump had organized on January 6, 2020 was an attempted coup. I said ‘no' because coups are very complicated to stage and Trump did not have the capacity to stage it.

I have held various positions in my life and I have been involved in international politics for a long time. Many people who know me can say that what I have tried is for the people to make their own decisions. Sometimes with positive results, sometimes with negative results, but that has always been the idea and when people decide in a legitimate way, that has always been indisputable for me.

"Argentina is experiencing an interesting process of change"

In an article in the Wall Street Journal you recently questioned the course of the conflict in Europe. Can the war against Russia be won?

If we want a successful ending, a new strategy is needed in Ukraine. Biden's plan has prevented a Russian triumph, but thinking about how to win the war is needed to prevent Putin from wanting to do the same with other countries that belonged to the former Soviet Union.

NATO has been very cautious to avoid a major conflict and has fallen for the story of Putin's supposed nuclear capability when it is known in the intelligence community that this capability is not such and is far from being able to challenge NATO.

Are economic sanctions no longer an effective pressure mechanism?

I have worked on this topic for a long time and it is necessary to rethink it. Sanctions can work in some cases, but in others it is more difficult because the United States does not have the necessary force for those sanctions to translate into real economic damage to those who are imposed.

It is very easy to announce them and they work for public relations, but applying them is tedious and very complicated. Added to this is the fact that Western companies often collaborate to avoid the effects of sanctions in countries where they operate and are sanctioned.

In the case of Russia, the sanctions have caused some damage, but very minor, and that is the explanation of why the war continues.

What would be the worst thing of a second Trump administration?

I am very concerned about Trump's return. I think that during his first term he damaged the United States both in its international and domestic agenda, but those damages could be repaired, and in many aspects they were. But in a second term, the damages will be irreparable.

It is very important that the American people understand that Trump is a risk to the entire democratic system.

Can Ron DeSantis beat him in the primaries?

Yes, I think he can still win the nomination, it will depend a lot on the August debate between Republican candidates since Trump will enter with a much more delicate judicial situation than the current one.

Translator: Bibiana Ruiz.

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