“We are aware of efforts by individuals linked to America’s adversaries, including the illegitimate regime of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, to instigate conflict, help incite violence, and divide Americans by exploiting peaceful protests,” a senior Trump administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Miami Herald.
When asked to provide non-public information to substantiate the claim, the official responded: “We are unable to further discuss any non-open source information.”
US Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) also referenced a Diario Las Américas news report last week titled “Latin American radical left infiltrates protests in the US,” warning that the US government would crack down on operatives in Miami in a Wednesday tweet.
“Senator Scott is very concerned with reports of protestors in Miami with ties to Latin American regimes and dictators like Nicolas Maduro and organizations like the FMLN [Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front],” Scott spokesperson Chris Hartline said in a statement to the Miami Herald.
“Senator Scott hopes that the FBI and federal authorities continue to investigate this matter and that anyone linked to acts of violence and destruction be held accountable.”
Reports that operatives from Venezuela and Cuba may be infiltrating Miami protests first appeared last Monday on a blog titled “Primer Informe,” run by former El Nuevo Herald reporter Casto Ocando. According to the report, “A group of people detained by the FBI in Miami and other cities in the United States during violent protests over the weekend, admitted that they received payments to participate in the protests of activists of Cuban and Venezuelan origin.”
The Miami Herald has also reported there have been Chavistas and other leftists at Miami protests, with a Univision reporter recently filming a protester holding the flag of Nicaragua’s Sandinista National Liberation Front in downtown. Another protester was pictured wearing a hat that features the Venezuelan flag. Chavism is a left-wing political ideology associated with former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
Police in Miami and Miami-Dade County have not commented on the allegations, while the US State Department has said that it is not involved in any investigations related to domestic protests.
The FBI also provided little information to the Miami Herald, saying: “Per FBI policy, we would not confirm or deny the existence of this type of investigation.”
In a news conference in Washington last Thursday, US Attorney General William Barr also said that federal authorities have information about extremist groups fueling violence during protests. “We’re also seeing foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence,” Barr claimed.