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Blackwater founder Erik Prince secretly met Venezuela vice-president
Prince had plotted using mercenary army to overthrow Maduro
Speculation that Prince could be back channel for White House
Erik Prince, founder of the private security firm Blackwater and prominent supporter of Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez – one of Nicolás Maduro’s closest allies.
The visit, described by one source as “outreach” to Maduro’s government, came just eight months after Prince floated a plan to deploy a private army to help topple the Venezuelan leader.
It was unclear what Prince, the brother of Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, discussed with Rodríguez.
A meeting with Rodríguez, who is under US sanctions, could raise questions about whether Prince might have run afoul of US law, which prohibits Americans from virtually any business dealings
with sanctioned individuals and specifically with the Venezuelan government. The Venezuelan vice-president’s office also oversees the country’s national intelligence service.
Prince informed one White House official of the planned meeting ahead of his trip, but it was not known whether he asked for approval or advice, according to one of the sources.
The White House declined to comment when asked if US officials had advance word of Prince’s visit or whether it was seen as a possible line of communication with the Maduro government.
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