By William Camacaro and Frederick B. Mills
In an investigative report, “Envoys of Guaidó Appropriate Funds for Humanitarian Assistance in Colombia” (June 14, 2019), Editor in Chief of PanAm Submit, Orlando Avendaño, details the alleged “diversion of money, embezzlement of funds, inflation of bills, fraud, and threats [by representatives of self proclaimed president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó] in order to surround themselves with luxuries.” (1)
These allegations of fraud committed by functionaries of Guaidó in Colombia are raising alarm inside the fractured Venezuelan opposition concerning the political injury this may do to their cause, but for critics of the US backed shadow Venezuelan authorities, this is just the tip of the iceberg, with the expectation of more such revelations of fraud to come.
Among a trove of documentary proof, together with itemized invoices, Avendaño offers a replica of a letter from Guaidó to Carlos Holmes Trujillo Garcia, Minister of Overseas Relations of the Republic of Colombia, dated February 24, 2019. Within the letter, Guaidó designates Kevin Rojas and Rossana Barrera, each members of the correct wing opposition Venezuelan political get together, Voluntad Well-liked (VP), to “attend to the situation” of Venezuelan army personnel and civilians who “enter Colombian territory seeking help and refuge.” Avendaño points out that “Rossana Barrera is the sister-in-law of National Assembly Deputy of the party Voluntad Popular, Sergio Vergara, right hand man of president Juan Guaidó.” She was part of Guaidó’s inside circle.
To place Guaidó’s letter in context, we move our focus for a moment to the frontier city of Cúcuta, Colombia, which is simply throughout the border from the Venezuelan city of San Cristóbal, Táchira. (2) We return to the occasions of February 23, 2019, that fateful day when US and Colombian backed Guaidó and his supporters had deliberate to drive a convoy of “humanitarian aid” vans over the border, with the target of scoring a propaganda victory towards the Maduro administration and galvanizing army defections, all as a prelude to a coup towards the constitutional authorities of Venezuela.
The US-Colombian-Venezuelan opposition alliance pulled out all of the stops; there was to be a media present on a grand scale surrounding the actions in Cúcuta. A concert fundraiser, Venezuela Reside Help, starring Richard Branson, was held on February 22, and a media campaign seemed that Guaidó’s goal was to deliver “humanitarian assistance” for Venezuela. But the plan began to unravel as quickly as it commenced. The three million dollars raised by the concert continues to be not accounted for. And nearly all of the meals on the vans would end up rotting in place. Neither the International Pink Cross nor the United Nations would lend credibility to Washington’s insistence that this was a “humanitarian” mission. The whole challenge was tainted by the apparent ulterior motive of trying to bring about regime change in Venezuela.
An essential part of the plan was to inspire large army defections by way of carrot and stick pronouncements emanating from Washington. It was presumably the final probability for soldiers to avoid punishment and reap the rewards of desertion. Though Guaidó promised to welcome military deserters as heroes, the defections did not mirror any critical breach within the Venezuelan army. It did create a need, nevertheless, to coordinate and fund the room and board of several hundred army personnel and their families who answered the call. (three) In accordance to Avendaño’s sources, as soon as housed at a seven area inns, a few of these “heroes” of the shadow authorities were not all the time on their greatest conduct:
“The small army on which the president [Guaidó] counted, but until now gave a bad impression in Cúcuta. Prostitutes, alcohol and violence. They demanded and demanded. In the end, that was not for free.”
Because the “humanitarian” funds began flowing to pay the expenses being racked up by the army defectors as nicely as the exorbitant spending of the envoy’s charged with overseeing those funds, a world media marketing campaign seemed that President Nicolás Maduro was opposed to receiving humanitarian assistance. Although Maduro was not about to welcome the Trojan Horse from Cúcuta, there had been and continues to be ongoing deliveries of authentic humanitarian help coordinated by UN businesses as properly as the International Purple Cross. And two weeks after preliminary false stories in the Western media that Maduro’s forces have been accountable for setting assist vans on hearth on the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge, it was finally acknowledged by the New York Occasions on March 10th that video proof exhibits it was probably Guaidó supporters whose molotov cocktails, inadvertently or not, induced the fires. (4)
Within the aftermath of the “humanitarian aid” debacle of February 23, Guaidó nonetheless had a promise to hold to several hundred defectors and their families. According to documents offered to Avendaño by Colombian Intelligence, Guaidó’s emissaries have been in control of the disbursement of funds to cover the price of army deserters and their households staying at two of seven inns. He alleges that Barrera and Rojas misappropriated funds slated for humanitarian purposes to celebration and surround themselves with luxuries.
“Colombian Intelligence was the first to specify the anomaly. They brought me the evidence. Invoices that show excesses and, several, very strange, of different checkbooks, signed the same day and with identical handwriting styles. Almost all without a seal. Costs exceeding three million pesos a night at Colombian hotels and nightclubs. Some one thousand dollars in food and drink. Spending on clothing in very expensive stores in Bogotá and in Cúcuta. Reports of vehicle rentals and payments to overpriced hotels. The money flowed. Lots of money.”
Fallout from the PanAm Publish Report
Inside a matter of hours Avendaño’s report had unfold on social media; major Venezuelan newspapers from throughout the political spectrum carried headlines with calls by some opposition figures to conduct an audit of the expenses in question. These allegations of corruption, coming from a proper of middle media outlet weren’t to be taken frivolously.
Voluntad In style (VP), which finds itself at the middle of the maelstrom, issued a press release calling into question the fees made in the PanAm Publish, declaring that “the interim government does not manage international funds of humanitarian assistance.” VP said: “The funds were and are managed by the governments of Colombia and the USA, agencies of cooperation, international non-governmental organizations (ONG), among others. But the National Assembly (AN) did not administer funds in Colombia for humanitarian materials.” However, the fees and the proof introduced towards a few of their associates are considerably compelling. So it isn’t shocking that VP has also joined calls for an investigation in order “to get to the bottom of things.” (5)
The centrist Venezuelan periodical El Universal reported on June 15 that Guaidó himself referred to as on Colombian intelligence to examine the alleged corruption of his envoys. (6) Guaidó tweeted: “Delegation in Colombia has managed with austerity and economic limitations situation of military personnel in that country. In the face of denunciations, I ask Ambassador Humberto Calderón Berti to formally request from Colombian intelligence agencies the necessary investigation. Transparency first of all!” Berti responded that an investigation had already been underway and that he was “working on the final phase of an audit of this lamentable and sultry case.” The problem with an audit by Berti is that, according to Avendaño, Berti offered a cost to one of the inns out of his private finances, and his verify ended up bouncing. This means he himself ought to be included in any investigation.
By June 17 this story was well-known in Venezuela however again burner information within the US. Venezuela’s Globovisión ran the headline, Venezuela: “Humanitarian Assistance also consists of alcohol and prostitutes? ). (7) The scandal is now in full swing and Guaidó, who just some months ago was the darling of Washington and the Lima Group, is now in scorching water, and a few of his closest associates are operating for cowl.
Guaidó’s largest political backer, nevertheless, nonetheless has no shame. In a tweet on June 14, Secretary Common of the OAS, Luis Almagro, who has been a regime change fanatic, stated:
“We ask the competent jurisdiction for an investigation that clarifies the serious charges formulated here, determine responsibilities and demand accountability. There is no possible democratization under the opacity of acts of corruption”. (eight)
Coming from the Common Secretary’s office, this doubtless faithfully conveys the State Division place on this specific concern.
Almagro’s tweet does increase an essential query. What can be the “competent jurisdiction” to carry out such an investigation? What physique has the democratic and authorized credentials to carry out this pressing and necessary activity? The OAS has misplaced such “competence” by allowing Almagro to use the multilateral group to attack Venezuela and promote the confiscation of billions in Venezuelan belongings.
What about Colombian intelligence which was reportedly not completely satisfied with the state of affairs and was a serious supply for Avendaño’s article? Though Colombian Intelligence obviously has necessary proof, and subsequently ought to be part of a credible investigation, Colombia can’t serve as a “competent jurisdiction” because President Iván Duque has allied himself too intently with Guaidó to encourage confidence. And the US, which used “humanitarian assistance” in February as a pretext for advancing regime change, doesn’t undertaking ethical authority in both Bogota or Caracas. If the investigation is carried out by a UN body, it might get credible outcomes.
The government of Venezuela has indicated that it had already sought to expose Guaido’s faction inside the opposition as a corrupt terrorist organization months before the PanAm Submit revelations. Jorge Rodríguez, Communications Minister of Venezuela, gave a press conference on Monday offering extra details relevant to this case, including the involvement of different members of Guiado’s inside circle within the scandal. (9) In accordance to Rodríguez, there was also a diversion of funds to recruit mercenaries from different nations to wreak havoc inside Venezuela. In another press conference with President Maduro that very same day, Rodríguez also alluded to a potential upcoming investigation by the US Division of Justice of allegations of corruption involving those assigned to direct CITGO on behalf of the shadow authorities. (10)
Political Implications: Time for Washington to Change Course
This PanAm Submit article adds gasoline to the hearth of growing skepticism concerning the viability of the US backed Venezuelan shadow government, particularly on the heels of self proclaimed president Juan Guaido’s failure to inspire a well-liked rebellion, divide the army, or achieve democratic legitimacy contained in the Bolivarian Republic. It appears that most of Guaidó’s political leverage comes from the devastating toll wrought by US economic sanctions and the persevering with menace of US army intervention. Both elements have induced rising antipathy inside Venezuela in the direction of these conspiring to overthrow the federal government of President Nicolás Maduro and give up the nation to US influence.
Corruption is little question a problem in both the personal and public sectors in Venezuela. However this is a matter for Venezuelans to resolve. The PanAm Submit report heightens the skepticism about what is occurring to the billions in Venezuelan belongings confiscated by the US to fund a corrupt shopper shadow government. And it’s elevating the temperature of indignation among these suffering the results of US economic sanctions while Guaidó and his inside circle reside the excessive life in Bogota, Miami and Madrid. It is time for the US to change course and re-establish diplomatic ties with the Maduro administration which stays open to dialogue with Washington.
Observe: Translations by the authors from Spanish to English are unofficial.
(1) Source: https://es.panampost.com/orlando-avendano/2019/06/14/enviados-de-guaido-se-apropian-de-fondos-para-ayuda-humanitaria-en-colombia/?cn-reloaded=1. Brackets added; Avendaño truly refers to Guaidó as “president” of Venezuela. See Luigino Bracci Roa (June 15, 2019 Alba Ciudad) for a great summary of this PanAm Submit article, and an English translation of this abstract revealed by the Orinoco Tribune (June 16, 2019).
(2) This borderland is the location of linked commerce. For example, when the sanctions cause gasoline shortages in Venezuela, the hardship is felt simply as a lot in Cúcuta. On the Colombian-Venezuelan border financial system, see Mills and Camacaro
(3) In accordance to Avendaño, not all deserters have been lively obligation soldiers coming in from Venezuela: “In view of the juicy offer of financial support, military personnel who had emigrated to Peru or Ecuador, old functionaries, civilians with falsified documents, presented themselves in Cúcuta to proclaim their presumed support for the new Government of the Venezuelan opposition.” PanAm Submit, June 14, 2019.
(four) Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/10/world/americas/venezuela-aid-fire-video.html
(5) Supply: http://www.noticierodigital.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=129118
(6) Supply: https://www.eluniversal.com.co/colombia/guaido-pide-a-colombia-investigar-supuesta-corrupcion-de-sus-delegados-FK1286623. Guaidó’s tweet, unique Spanish: Delegación en Colombia ha manejado con austeridad y limitaciones económicas situación de militares en ese país. Ante denuncias, pido al embajador Humberto Calderón Berti solicitar formalmente a organismos de inteligencia colombiana la investigación necesaria. íTransparencia ante todo!
(7) Supply: https://www.globovision.com/article/venezuela-ayuda-humanitaria-tambien-incluye-alcohol-y-prostitutas
(8) Supply: https://twitter.com/Almagro_OEA2015/status/1139658418573234179. Unique Spanish: “Solicitamos a jurisdicción competente investigación esclarecedora de graves cargos aquí formulados, determinar responsabilidades y exigir rendición de cuentas. No hay democratización posible bajo la opacidad de actos de corrupción.”
(9) Source: https://www.laiguana.tv/articulos/502281-ministro-jorge-rodriguez-robo-escandalo-ayuda-humanitaria-pruebas/
(10) Supply: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AEE4flR9qI&feature=youtu.be