Since coming to the presidency of the National Assembly of Venezuela in January 2019, Congressman Juan Guaidó has implemented a series of actions against the government of Nicolás Maduro that have been unsuccessful, which has eroded his leadership.
Furthermore, the frequent corruption scandals, denounced by the allies themselves, caused a wave of dissatisfaction within the Venezuelan opposition sector.
National Assembly deputies now accuse Juan Guaidó of hiding the fate of funds sent by foreign governments and donors, as there have been no accounts to date.
Among the resources managed by Maduro’s main opponent is also the profit of two Venezuelan state-owned companies: Citgo, which is a subsidiary of Venezuelan oil company PDVSA in the United States, and Monómeros, a fertilizer company located in Colombia.
After the economic blockade imposed against the Maduro government, these companies were banned by the US and Colombian governments.
With this, the industrial facilities were transferred to the control of a team appointed by Juan Guaidó, recognized by these countries as the interim president of Venezuela.
In addition, the U.S. government announced in February 2019 that it was currently allocating $ 20 million in humanitarian aid to Venezuela.
Canada sent $ 40 million at the same time. The “Venezuela Aid Live” megashow, held in Cúcuta, on the border with Colombia, on February 23, raised another U $ 2.5 million and on that occasion the Puerto Rican reggaeton singer Don Omar donated U $ 1 million, which was delivered directly to the Guaidó team.
The United States government sent other appeals that were only declared in December 2019, when the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an American government agency, published this information on its website.
According to the agency, in 2019, $ 158 million was allocated to humanitarian assistance in Venezuela. However, Juan Guaidó claims that he does not manage foreign funds, since, according to him, humanitarian aid would be administered by NGOs.
However, USAID itself states, in the same document, that it had another appeal that was delivered directly to Juan Guaidó.
“USAID is providing more than $ 128 million to finance programs to support interim President Juan Guaidó and his government, as they restore democratic governance and respond to citizens,” he said on his Spanish page .
Corroborating this information, the White House special envoy for Venezuelan affairs, Elliott Abrams, said last week, in testimony in the United States Congress, that the Donald Trump administration sent money to Juan Guaidó’s team for the maintenance of the National Assembly of Venezuela and to finance the communication apparatus in support of Guaidó, which includes payments to journalists and media classified by him as “free press” .
And for 2020 the resources are also already guaranteed. The U.S. government announced in December 2019 that the US Congress approved $ 400 million, which will be earmarked for humanitarian assistance in Venezuela and neighboring countries, which receive Venezuelan immigrants, without stipulating the values for each country.
Another US $ 17 million was also approved for “democratic political actors and for civil society organizations in Venezuela”.
Although the Venezuelan opposition received this amount of resources, many parliamentarians did not even come close to that money.
Outraged by Congressman Juan Guaidó’s lack of transparency, more than 30 deputies rebelled and stopped supporting the opposition leader. That was what made it possible to elect the new president of the National Assembly, Luis Parra, of the Primero Justicia party, the second largest party on the Venezuelan right.
Although Guaidó also claims that he was elected president of the Venezuelan Congress, with 100 votes, in a parallel National Assembly. However, among the 100 votes, at least 22 are from disabled deputies whose members voted for Luis Parra.
In this way, 27 deputies who are out of the country were counted, investigated and accused of participation in crimes, and another seven disqualified by the Venezuelan Justice, for electoral fraud and other crimes. The list also includes two deputies from the PSUV, Nicolás Maduro’s party, who guarantee that they will not be present in that vote.
“We ask the ex-president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, to give an account of the current situation of Venezuelan public companies. Former Guaidó ambassador to Colombia, Humberto Calderon Berti, recently denounced that the Monómeros company was practically bankrupt and was being dismantled. This caught our attention and since then we have been making this criticism ”, stated the current president of the National Assembly, Luis Parra, in an exclusive interview with the Diário do Centro do Mundo.
Former Guaidó representative in Colombia, Humberto Calderón Berti was dismissed after requesting an investigation with the Colombian Public Prosecutor’s Office to investigate possible embezzlement of resources by a member of the Guaidó team in the Colombian city of Cúcuca, on the border with Venezuela.
This happened after the right-wing media, such as the Miami-based Panampost news site, published documents that proved the misuse of humanitarian aid resources.
According to Berti, there were also problems at the state-owned company Monómeros. “The parties got their hands on Monómeros and put unqualified people with little reputation in their direction. There can be no public dispute or partisan distribution in public companies, ”said Berti at a news conference in December.
One of the directors of Monómeros appointed by Guaidó is Jon Bilbao Boroja. He said in an interview that the company’s 2019 profit estimate was $ 6 million in 2019.
However, at the end of the year the company did not publicly present its annual balance sheet. Monómeros is the largest fertilizer company in Colombian territory, market leader with more than 70% share of fertilizer sales.
Between the years 2016 and 2018, the company’s annual profit was never below $ 300 million, according to data released by the Superintendency of Business Societies of Colombia.
In the USA, the main representative of Juan Guaidó, designated as ambassador of his “interim government”, Carlos Vecchio, known in the Venezuelan political scene for being a former executive of the American oil company Exxon Mobil, has been under investigation since June by the US Justice. for a possible diversion of U $ 70 million from the Venezuelan state-owned Citgo.
For Luis Parra, the corruption and dismantling of these companies jeopardize their true role. “Today, we are experiencing a major crisis in Venezuela and it is these public companies that should put the resources to serve the population,” he says.
In the same vein, opposing deputy José Brito, from the opposition party Primeiro Justicia, highlights the lack of transparency of the former political ally.
“Where are the dollars that USAUD gave Venezuela? Juan Guaidó says that these resources are managed by NGOs. He would have to review who is in charge of these organizations. There would have to be a serious investigation, because there are serious suspicions that whoever manages all these NGOs, who received the funds destined for humanitarian aid, are people very close to Guaidó ”, points out Brito, in an interview with the Diário do Centro do Mundo.
Since August, Venezuelan political consultant Pedro Pedrosa, from an opposing line, has been denouncing what he called “the profitable NGO business” in Venezuela.
“Most of these NGOs are satellites for political parties. In Venezuela, it has become a very profitable business to be an opponent of the government ”.
Pedrosa also states that a large part of the resources used by the opposition reaches NGOs through international cooperation agencies, such as the USAID.
Amid the dispute for leadership in the Venezuelan opposition sector, deputy Juan Guaidó also accuses Parra and Brito of corruption. Brito defends himself.
“How curious that we were who asked for an investigation against Guaidó’s corruption and ended up being investigated by his allies. We denounce the Cúcuta case, in which they stole an important amount of dollars and even the donation of the musician Don Omar, in the amount of 1 million ”, says the parliamentarian.
Brito also says that he was a victim of persecution. “It is they (Guaidó and his allies) who manage the resources, but it is us who are accused of involvement in acts of corruption. I do not manage public resources. So, these accusations are politically motivated, due to what would happen on January 5 (when Guaidó was defeated in the election of the board of directors of the National Assembly) ”.
Revolt of the regions against the leaders of the capital
The internal divisions of the opposition Venezuela, which caused a fracture in the National Assembly last week, are also a reflection of a dispute between the capital and the provinces.
To understand better, it is necessary to go back in time a little. The National Assembly had its powers suspended by the Supreme Court of Justice in 2015 for failing to comply with court orders. This led the Justice to also suspend the salaries of 167 deputies, in January 2016. However, the parliament continued to function, but it cannot legislate, it only carries out political debates.
Therefore, being a parliamentarian in Venezuela has become a voluntary activity, where most politicians have their professions apart from political activity. But the opposing faction receives funding from the United States government, according to the White House special envoy for Venezuelan affairs, Elliott Abrams.
However, some deputies say that these resources did not reach the opposition parliamentarians equally, who represented about two thirds of the Congress, until three months ago.
In addition, deputies from the interior of the country were harmed, since the social conditions in these regions are more complex in times of crisis and international economic blockade and were not receiving the assistance they claimed. That would have been a trigger for the withdrawal of support for deputy Juan Guaidó.
“We in the provinces are the ones who suffer alongside the people. That is why we have risen against Guaidó, ”said parliamentarian José Brito. The current president of the National Assembly confirms that the revolt against Guaidó came from the interior of the country. “From the provinces, the local leaders met to reach an agreement on a clear proposal to the country, which can depolarize Congress and that there is no more confrontation”, says Parra.
After all this, the United States government announced sanctions, on Monday (13/01) against the new board of the National Assembly, among those sanctioned is Luis Parra and seven other deputies.
“I have no bank account or assets in the United States and there is nothing that matters to me other than the people of Venezuela. We ask for respect from governments, just as at some point we ask for help, ”said Parra.
This Tuesday (01/14) has a session in the National Assembly. The vice president of the socialist PSUV, Diosdado Cabello also called for a march, in the center of Caracas, which will have as its theme the defense of peace in Venezuela and the end of the confrontation between the opposition sectors that dispute the National Congress.
Congressman Juan Guaidó, who had summoned his supporters to a march that would accompany him to the Legislative Palace, changed plans and his session will be Wednesday. Although Nicolás Maduro’s government does not recognize Guaidó as president of the National Assembly, his entry into the Legislative Palace is free to hold his events, so it will be a symbolic session.
On Tuesday of last week, Guaidó and 38 other deputies held one of these symbolic sessions in the plenary of the National Assembly, after the official session had already ended. The scene of the two legislative sessions is expected to repeat itself this week and in this way Venezuela will be accommodating its internal political conflicts.
Resources sent to the Venezuelan opposition in 2019
USAID (US government agency) – $ 286 million
Executive of the gov. of the USA – $ 20 million
Canadian Government: $ 40 million
“Venezuela Aid Live” show: U $ 2.5 million
Reggaeton singer Don Omar: $ 1 million
Total: U $ 349.5 million (equivalent to R $ 1.4 billion)