Driving to Colombia? New photos show Juan Guaido in car with ‘drug cartel gangster’

A Venezuelan official has published photos that he says are further proof of ties between the country’s self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido and a drug cartel member, who allegedly helped him sneak into Colombia.

In January, Guaido declared himself the rightful head of state in Venezuela and has since made several failed attempts to actually seize power in the Latin American nation, with Washington backing the effort. During one of them in February, he traveled to neighboring Colombia to attend a concert and lead a column of trucks containing US-provided ‘humanitarian aid,’ which was ultimately stopped by Venezuelan border guards.

Last week, a Colombian NGO published photos showing the would-be president and two other people, who were identified as members of Los Rastrojos, a paramilitary criminal organization operating on the border between Venezuela and Colombia. It was alleged that Guaido had crossed the border with the help of the gangsters.

On Thursday, more photos apparently confirming the theory were published in Venezuela. One shows a smiling Guaido hugging a bulky man identified as Jonathan Orlando Zambrano Garcia, aka ‘Patron Pobre,’ a Los Rastrojos mid-tier commander. He was driving Guaido, who could be seen sticking out of an open door of the car.

Guaido’s clothes in the photos are the same that he wore during his trip to Colombia in February. The images were first revealed by ‘Con el Mazo Dando,’ a TV program hosted by Diosdado Cabello, an influential Venezuelan MP.

Cabello also reported that Los Rastrojos had tried to kill a man known as ‘El Menor,’ one of the two cartel members shown alongside Guaido in photos that emerged last week. He said that assassins had failed to find him and instead killed his parents and two other family members in what he called an obvious attempt to cover up the scandal.

After the initial allegation emerged, Guaido denied that he had received any help from Los Rastrojos and said the two members were among hundreds of people with whom he posed for selfies after crossing the border. Colombian authorities, who support Guaido’s claim in Venezuela, confirmed that the two individuals were members of the organization, but said that the opposition leader was not accompanied by any criminal during his visit to the country.

The ties between the man in the new pictures and Los Rastrojos, however, are less clear. According to Colombian newspaper El Espectador, Colombian border guards don’t believe him to be part of the criminal organization.

Los Rastrojos are one of several paramilitary groups operating in the border area. They are involved in various crimes including illegal mining, racketeering, trafficking of drugs and gasoline, kidnappings and assassinations.

  • Published in World

Venezuelan president says Trump has obsessive hatred of Latin Americans

In the new season of his RT TV show, Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa on Thursday interviewed Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, where both critically addressed the complex realities the Bolivarian Revolution is currently facing.

During their one-hour conversation, the two leaders of contemporary Latin American politics talked about the economic and social situation of Venezuela, which, as Correa said, is "victim of a disinformation campaign" whereby the political opposition tries to benefit from problems that have been "clearly caused by the so-called 'sanctions' which are actually illegal aggressions against sovereign countries."

In order to highlight the effects of the U.S.-led economic aggression, President Maduro recalled that from the beginning of President Hugo Chavez's administration in 1999 up to 2015, “we had annual revenues of $50 billion from oil sales.  Now we only receive $4 billion.”

Maduro also mentioned that the death of Commander Hugo Chavez in March 2013 meant a "very big blow" for his country because "internal enemies, but especially the U.S. imperial power, began to design tactics to replace Chavismo."

During the presidency of Donald Trump, over the last two years, "the war with Washington has had a devastating effect on our social stability and people's lives," the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) leader said.

"Venezuela cannot either open or close international bank accounts.  It cannot pay for any type of product.  In addition, we are now being threatened with a complete naval blockade."

In his talk with Correa, the Bolivarian president once again denounced that the U.S. government actions imply many financial costs to the Venezuelans.  "They have confiscated and robbed us of almost $30 billion," Maduro said and explained that Venezuela is carrying out "an economy of resistance."

In order to tackle this situation, his administration has established priority policies, one of which is food and medicine production.  This goal is "at the center" of those priorities so as to be able to supply the population.

"Venezuela has no sanctions, it has aggressions," Maduro said and added: "Trump has an obsessive hatred against Latin American peoples, refugees, immigrants; he has a special hatred of the Venezuelan people and our history."

"I compare [what happens now] with the Hitler era, with that same vision that Hitler imposed against the Jews before the war," he stressed.  Based on the challenges it faces at the current historical moment, the Venezuelan government is laying the long-term foundations to overcome the country's traditional dependence on oil revenues.

"I have defined 16 'development drivers' on the basis of our country's economic, industrial and technological realities," Maduro said and recalled that transforming a natural resources-based growth model, which has been in place for the last 100 years, is a difficult task.

Nevertheless, "despite all imperial aggressions, we are standing strong and ready to resume the path towards growth,", President Maduro affirmed.

For his part, in order to illustrate what is happening in Venezuelans' everyday live, Rafael Correa asked the audience to imagine what it means to live under siege.  "Imagine a country which cannot sell oil, its main product; even if it could sell it and obtain some foreign currency, it cannot buy anything because it cannot use the international financial system," the Ecuadorean politician said.

“That is what they have done to Venezuela.  And, in their eagerness to sanction a government without having the right to do so, they are sanctioning the whole population," Correa stressed.​​​​​​​

Before finishing the interview, Correa invited President Maduro to describe in his own words the Venezuelan political system.  "In Venezuela, they tell us, there is no democracy and you are a 'usurper'," Correa said provocatively.

"Over 20 years of revolution, we have had 25 elections for president, governors and mayors," Maduro replied and, with a hint of irony, he said that it would be "a strange dictatorship."  The Venezuelan president recalled that the Chavista movement has beaten the opposition in 23 out of those 25 elections.  

Rafael Correa concluded his program by reiterating his support for Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan people.  "Intellectual honesty does not mean being neutral, which is impossible. Intellectual honesty means trying to maintain objectivity, despite the partiality we all have and our ideological inclinations."

  • Published in World

Venezuela: Another Opposition Party Joins Dialogue with Gov't

Venezuelan Vice President Rodriguez said the installation of the National Dialogue Table generates "great satisfaction" for the Venezuelan people.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez welcomed Pastor Javier Bertucci, representing the party Hope for Change, who will join the Agreement of National Dialogue, which was signed earlier this week in hope of solving the problems that caused the U.S. blockade against Venezuela.

"The only thing we expect from the United States is to recover the path of dialogue with the government of Nicolas Maduro, they have only one way, dialogue and peaceful negotiation," said the vice president, in statements to the press.

In a brief speech at the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry together with Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, Rodriguez slammed opposition groups that want Venezuela to go astray.

She reiterated that Venezuela does not want war. "That sector that today throws stones at the dialogue table is an isolated sector; the vast majority of Venezuelans and Venezuelans are happy with this initiative."

The vice president said the sector that integrates and supports the agreement between the opposition and the Government is the "majority".

She said the installation of the National Dialogue Table generates "great satisfaction" for the Venezuelan people.

Previously, the Hope for Change Movement joined the National Dialogue Table that was installed this Sept. 16 at the headquarters of the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry between the government and the Venezuelan opposition.

Javier Bertucci signed the six agreements in the presence of representatives of the Bolivarian Revolution and delegates of the four right-wing political parties that are participating in the recent talks: MAS, Advanced Progress, Solutions, and Change.

"This table has as its main objective generating solutions in a short time, that allows us to verify the will of the government to articulate actions for the benefit of the population and that is an open invitation for all," Bertucci said in a statement to the media.

  • Published in World

President Diaz-Canel stresses Cubans' support for Venezuela

President Miguel Diaz-Canel highlighted in Twitter this Wednesday that thousands of Cubans have signed a statement of support for the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela, which Caracas will present at the United Nations.

Unconditional support for the heroic and brotherly people facing the aggressive US policy, Diaz-Canel underlines in a tweet.

On Tuesday, Venezuelan Ambassador to Cuba, Adam Chavez, received the signatures collected in workplaces, study centers and other Cuban sites that will accompany the letter of millions of Venezuelans addressed to the world body.

  • Published in Cuba

Venezuela Urges the World to Support Peace Dialogue

Participants to the dialogue table reiterated that all political parties who prone transparency and understanding to solve the country's problems are welcome to join the dialogue.

The National Dialogue Roundtable in Venezuela, constituted by members of the constitutional government and representatives of the opposition, urged Tuesday for the international community to support the peace and understanding initiatives.

The participants reiterated in a statement that all political factions are working hard to reach a diplomatic solution to all internal problems. They also invited the European Union and the other international institutions to contribute to the collective effort.

"The spirit of this national table is inclusive, open, and transparent. It invokes the openness and calls on all national political actors to participate and at the same time, shows timely and necessary results to generate the confidence and progress that the country requires," it read.

The members of the political parties affirmed that the main goal is to make proposals to specific issues faced by the country hit by an economic crisis, mainly generated ​​​​​by the illegal economic blockade, unilaterally imposed by the United States since 2016.

"The national roundtable is open to the incorporation of the different national actors. It also invites the International Community to accompany and comprehend this mechanism, with an open vision and with greater transparency by those who have shown a genuine concern for the well-being of our country," the statement concluded.

Since its starting, partial agreements have been reached such as the incorporation of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and allied factions back to the National Assembly; along with revision and adjustments to electoral guarantees, and appeals to the justice system to agree on measures of benefits for some detained citizens.

  • Published in World

Turkey welcomes Maduro’s pact with Venezuelan opposition groups

Turkey on Tuesday voiced support for a series of agreements Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro signed with some opposition factions on Monday.

The agreements included the return of the government's deputies to the opposition-controlled legislature and the establishment of a national dialogue platform for ongoing negotiations.

"I welcome the signing of the agreements reached at the dialogue table with the opposition," Maduro said in a Facebook post in which he shared a five-page document signed by Venezuelan officials and representatives of minor opposition parties.

The signatories did not include Juan Guaido, the U.S.-backed opposition leader who announced Sunday that negotiations with the Maduro administration were dead. The agreement marks the first significant split in the Venezuelan opposition.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry reiterated in a statement Tuesday Ankara's support for a principled approach seeking a sustainable solution to the crisis through political dialogue in line with the will of the Venezuelan people.

"With this understanding, we welcome the agreement reached between the Venezuelan Government and some opposition parties in Caracas yesterday (16 September)," the Foreign Ministry said.

"We think this is an important and encouraging step toward a solution. In terms of maintaining social, political and economic stability in Venezuela, it is of great importance that all parties support this promising initiative," the statement added.

The talks agreed to on Monday will focus on reforming Venezuela's electoral board as well as finding a solution to the impasse caused by the creation of a pro-government constitutional assembly to rival the opposition-controlled congress.

Venezuela's government said Monday its deputies will return to the opposition-controlled legislature, which they walked out of three years ago.

"In the interests of deepening and extending the dialogue... the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and its allied factions will return to the National Assembly," said communications minister Jorge Rodriguez.

Deputies from the ruling Socialist Party walked out of the National Assembly in 2016 after losing control in elections, and the government set up its own body, the Constituent Assembly.

Guaido, the speaker of the National Assembly, earlier this year declared himself interim president with the backing of the United States and other western powers, saying elections that returned Maduro to power had been undermined by fraud.

The National Assembly has maintained its composition of 112 opposition lawmakers and 55 government loyalists.

On Sunday, more than five weeks after Maduro's government pulled out of Norwegian-mediated negotiations to seek a way out of Venezuela's crisis, Guaido said that talks had collapsed.

The government and the opposition, which is seeking Maduro's resignation, launched the talks in July. The negotiations followed a previous round of talks in Oslo in May.

Maduro called off the talks, which were initially held in Oslo and then moved to Barbados, on Aug. 7 in response to U.S. sanctions against his government.

  • Published in World

Venezuelan Analyst Warns of Opposition Attacks

Caracas, Sep 12 (Prensa Latina) Venezuelan analyst Juan Martorano warned that the opposition right-wing and the United States will continue their destabilizing actions in the country and urged the people to remain united in the face of these threats.

In an interview reproduced by LaiguanaTV, the lawyer and human rights activist also said that a 'black September is predicted, because the enemies of the Bolivarian government will multiply their efforts to submerge the country in an authentic bath of violence and blood.'

He warned the actions will go from the dissemination of fake news to sabotage of public services and increased pressure from international organizations.

Martorano called Venezuelans to be conscious and mobilized in the face of these attacks that seek to impose chaos on the nation and attempt to oust President Nicolás Maduro.

He also affirmed that the United States will take advantage of the next United Nations General Assembly to promote an political escalation against Venezuela and other countries, among them Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia.

However, the analyst believes that the US strategy to dominate Latin America is doomed to fail and that the political situation in the region is beginning to reverse with an eventual return to power of progressive forces in several nations.

In recent weeks, Washington-led aggression against Venezuela have intensified, with the support of Colombia.

Faced with this situation, the Venezuelan Government took contingency measures to defend its sovereignty against a possible military attack on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, including the deployment of more than three thousand troops in that area and the beginning of the Sovereignty and Peace military drill.

  • Published in World

Venezuela denounces errors in Bachelet report before the United Nations

Geneva, September 11 (RHC)-- During the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Venezuelan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Yanez, denounced the inaccuracies and the errors in the report sanctioned by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, on the reality of his country.

The Venezuelan official objected to the methodology used to prepare the document presented at the Council on July 5, suggesting it incites misinformation about the reality of the South American country, already affected by the coercive measures applied by the United States. 

“The material suffers from methodological flaws that result in biased information feeding the media campaign against Venezuela," the diplomat said.  He also pointed out that “the report ignored the information gathered by the high commissioner herself during her visit to the country, but was based on 558 interviews, of which 460 were conducted outside Venezuela, in other words, 82 percent of the sources consulted do not live in Venezuela."

Yanez condemned the decontextualized facts the document reported.  The facts in question were never verified by the commission sent by Bachelet more than three times to Venezuela. 

Regarding the consequences of the "criminal unilateral coercive measures" imposed by the United States, the vice-minister recalled that these sanctions on the nation and its people cause "death, pain and suffering" among Venezuelans, in addition to depriving the State of essential resources to access medicines, food, and others Priority goods. 

Yanez finally said that the administration of President Nicolas Maduro values ​​the illustration in the report of the impacts of the blockade, but he warned that if a country should be brought to justice for the violation of human rights, then it should be the United States.

To conclude, the representative of Venezuela asked Bachelet to abide by objectivity, impartiality, and non-selectivity to inform about the reality of the country.  

During Bachelet's official visit to Venezuela in June, the commissioner heard the personal testimonies of victims of opposition violence and received 123 documented cases of citizens who were lynched, beheaded and killed by them in protests of 2013, 2014 and 2017. The commissioner, who is the ex-president of Chile, had promised to incorporate them in her report but didn’t make the final cut.

The document which "should have clearly condemned the violence by extreme-right opposition leaders and the calls for foreign intervention Venezuela," Alfred de Zayas, an international human rights lawyer, and former OHCHR consultant, said. Zayas, a world-renowned international conflict and justice negotiator called the final draft a "disappointment and a "missed opportunity" for peace for Venezuelans.
 

Edited by Ed Newman
  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed