From coup leaders to con artists: Juan Guaidó’s gang exposed for massive humanitarian aid fraud

An explosive new report reveals how Guaidó representatives in Colombia embezzled $125,000 meant for humanitarian aid, suckering deserting soldiers and blowing the aid money on luxury goods. 

By Dan Cohen

June 17 (The Grayzone) A new investigation has exposed members of Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó’s inner circle for embezzling tens of thousands of dollars designated for humanitarian aid and spending it on luxury goods and lavish accommodations for themselves. Guaidó had been aware of the fraud for weeks and stubbornly defended his cohorts until a leak from Colombian intelligence forced him to acknowledge the scandal.

The scandal unfolded this February, when Venezuelan opposition figures and their supporters descended upon the border town of Cúcuta, Colombia for what was billed as a Live Aid concert to raise millions of dollars for humanitarian aid for Venezuelans suffering the effects of an economic crisis.

The operation was supposed to have climaxed with a Live Aid concert hosted by billionaire Virgin Group founder Richard Branson while trucks full of US aid blasted across the Venezuelan border. Instead, as Branson gathered his performers on stage for a cringeworthy rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” opposition hooligans set fire to the truckloads of aid with molotov cocktails as they failed to reach the border.

Now, a report by the staunchly anti-Maduro PanAm Post editor-in-chief Orlando Avendaño has revealed a shocking scheme of fraud and embezzlement behind the aid imbroglio. According to Avendaño, Guaidó’s lieutenants embezzled huge sums of money that had been promised to Venezuelan soldiers who deserted their positions and snuck across to the Colombian side at Guaidó’s urging.

The cash that was used to entice desperate soldiers and would-be mercenaries to defect became a slush fund for the US-backed coup leader and his gaggle, who spent it lavishly on hotels, expensive dinners, nightclubs and designer clothes. As Guaidó’s gang lived the high life, he covered for their fraud, keeping his lips sealed until it was exposed through a leak by the Colombian intelligence services.

At a press conference on June 17, Guaidó attempted to downplay his responsibility and redirect public anger back towards Maduro. “The government does not manage [public] resources because we are in the process of transition,” he said. “The dictatorship has begun a process of disinformation.”

But then the defecting Venezuelan soldiers announced plans for a press conference where they pledged to provide even more evidence of fraud.

Constructing an interventionist sham show

It was apparent upon Branson’s announcement of the February 23rd aid concert that the event had little to do with providing relief to hungry Venezuelans. It was a transparent propaganda stunt engineered to destabilize the Maduro government and achieve a long-standing US foreign policy goal.

As Father Sergei San Miguel, a Colombian government-affiliated priest responsible for guiding the deserting Venezuelan soldiers told me in Cúcuta, the successful entrance of the meager amount of supplies into Venezuela was intended to demonstrate Maduro’s loss of sovereignty in front of the global stage and foment an uprising across the country that would finally depose him.

Branson pledged that his event would rustle up 100 million dollars for humanitarian aid. But organizers had omitted how and to whom the funds would be distributed. On February 28th, Venezuela Aid Live organizers announced they had raised just 2.5 million dollars  – a tiny fraction of the sum they had promised and likely less than the cost of staging a massive production on one week’s notice.

Richard Branson singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” with performers at his Live Aid concert in Colombia

The weekend of the concert offered a preview of this month’s corruption revelations, with several embarrassing incidents involving Guaidó’s confidantes. Early in the morning of February 23, Popular Will party members Freddy Superlano and his cousin and assistant Carlos José Salinas were found unconscious in a motel in Cúcuta. According to police reports, the two had been drugged with scopolamine and robbed by women, presumably prostitutes, they met in the red-light district. After the women made an early morning dash from the motel room, staff found the two men unconscious and called police. Salinas died shortly after being hospitalized.

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Cuba rejects arbitrary inclusion in US black list of human trafficking

Cuba rejects arbitrary inclusion in US black list of human trafficking

June 21 (Radio Rebelde) The Cuban government today rejected the arbitrary inclusion of island-nation in the worst category (level three) in a report on human trafficking for the year 2019.

More lies and calumnies from #USA when considering #Cuba in the worst category in its report on human trafficking, attacking Cuban medical collaboration, an example of solidarity, humanity and noble and legitimate cooperation among the countries of the South, Miguel Díaz-Canel, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, said through Twitter.

The president denounced this immoral, lying and perverse accusation and said that Cuban internationalist doctors are slaves only of love for others.

Also in Twitter, Bruno Rodriguez, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that this is another slander to justify the new measures of hostility towards Cuba and that the U.S. lacks the moral authority to make evaluations or ratings of countries.

Cuba is distinguished by a policy of zero tolerance and exemplary performance in preventing and combating human trafficking with low incidence of this scourge.

These are results associated with our social achievements, citizen security and equal opportunities, added Rodriguez.

He stressed that the U.S., the country that devotes the largest budget to the production and trade of arms, which cause death and pain on a daily basis, attacks Cuban medical collaboration, an example of solidarity and humanity and of the noble and legitimate cooperation that exists among the countries of the South.

Widely criticized for the politicization of its results and its unilateral character, the U.S. State Department’s report evaluates at three levels the efforts of governments to comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and since 2015 had placed Cuba at level two.

Despite being an illegitimate and manipulative document, it has direct consequences for the countries included in level three, which in the case of Cuba increases the impact of the economic, commercial and financial blockade that Washington has imposed on Havana for more than six decades.


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Cuban Residents in Ecuador Reject U.S. Blockade

Quito, Jun 22 (Prensa Latina) The Association of Cuban Residents in Ecuador (ACURE) restated on Saturday its position of energetic rejection of the U.S. financial, economic and commercial blockade imposed against Cuba for decades.

‘We join all the voices worlwide to reject that unfair and ruthless policy, which has tried to surrender a whole people by hunger and needs from almost 60 years,’ the organization stated on the Internet.

ACURE also denounced that the blockade against Cuba violates freedom and rights, not only of the country in general, but of every Cuban in particular, directly or indirectly affected by the actions and aggression imposed by the U.S. measures.

Likewise, the Association rejected the Helms Burton Act in force since 1996, considering it a violation of international law and a resurgence of the economic genocidal blockade.

Along the same lines, ACURE underscored that the activation of Title III of the aforementioned regulations, constitutes an additional mechanism to try to plunder the resources and wealth of Cuba in order to strangle the people and try to change their political and social system.


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Cuban Fournier Wins Bronze Medal at 2nd World Rowing Cup

Poznan, Poland, Jun 23 (Prensa Latina) Angel Fournier, from Cuba, on Sunday won the bronze medal in the single weight open modality at the 2nd World Rowing Cup, which ended today in the Polish city of Poznan. The 31-year-old Cuban won the bronze medal after clocking 7:24.790 minutes, behind Sverri Nielsen, from the Netherlands, who clocked 7:21.960 minutes, and Pilip Pavukou, from Belarus, who stopped the clock at 7:24.100 minutes.

According to the website of the event, the world multi-medal rower paddled the first 1,000 meters in the fifth position on the water track of Lake Malta, while already in the third segment, at 1,500 meters route, he speeded up until reaching the third place, where the competition ended.

The 2nd edition of the World Rowing Cup began last Friday and ended on Sunday after the completion of 18 finals.


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The Crisis of Multilateralism and the War Against Venezuela

Jesse Chacon

+ postsJesse Chacón graduated from the Military Academy in 1987 obtaining a degree in Military Arts and was among the best of the Class “Tomás Montilla Padrón”. In 1996 he received his degree in systems engineering from the Polytechnic University of the National Armed Forces (UNEFA) with the honors of Summa Cum Laude. He also completed a postgraduate study in Telematics at the National Institute of Telecommunications in France and the Simón Bolívar University in Caracas.

By Jesse Chacón Escamillo – June 23, Orinoco Tribune

The new international order established after the humanitarian catastrophe generated by the Second World War, created hope and expectation that a coexistence among nations based on basic principles of respect was possible. Until recently, experts identified two major risks to the organized way of life of our global society: environmental catastrophe and nuclear confrontation. Today, and unanimously, they have added a third threat, the crisis of democracy and the rule of law. The recent attacks against Venezuela, China, Cuba, Iran, Russia and Syria are the clearest proof of this threat.

In 1945 the United Nations was founded and became the epitome of multilateralism. Its fundamental values are stated in its Charter, which defines two basic principles for international relations, non-interference in the internal affairs of other State and respect to self-determination. In addition, this organization has promoted and is the custodian of numerous treaties and resolutions that condemn aggression, threats, and unilateral coercive measures. These basic rules of coexistence are being undermined against the legitimate government of Venezuela by the United States and its allies, with the only goal of achieving a regime change according to their interests.

The contravention of international law through premature recognition
Doctrine and international law, define that the requirements for a State to be recognized as a person of international law are territory, government, population, and capacity to enter into relations with other States. These elements are embodied in the Convention on Rights of Duties of States, signed in Montevideo in 1933. In January of this year in a square in Venezuela, the Member of Parliament Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself president. He was recognized by some States, in flagrant violation of the mandates of the UN Charter and the principles for the recognition of States. The entire international community (including the US and its allies), acknowledge that the government and its powers in Venezuela have not collapsed, there is a constitutional President, four branches of power, in addition to the subordination of the military forces and the police. Considering the current situation, it is possible to assert that governments incurred in a premature recognition. The Department of Scientific Research of the German Parliament defines that premature recognition represents a repudiation of the legitimate state authority by the recognising state, whereby the latter incurs tortious liability under international law, and also encounters serious reservations from a peacebuilding perspective.

The self-proclamation has been made based on article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution that defines the causes for the President to become permanently unavailable. The article is very clear, defining that the causes are death, resignation, removal from office by decision of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, disabilities, and abandonment. It is clear that none of these has taken place. One justification is that the presidential elections of May 2018 are illegitimate, reason why the position of President is vacant. It must be emphasized, that article 233 does not consider this reason in any way. Furthermore, if any of the conditions for unavailability occurs, the article determines that a new election must be conducted within a period of 30 days. Five months have passed since Mr. Guaidó called himself president and until now no action has been taken to call for elections in Venezuela.

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South Africa’s IOL Denounces US Aggressions against Cuba

Pretoria, Jun 23 (Prensa Latina) A long article detailing the new US measures against Cuba was published on Sunday on Independent Online (IOL), which called to reject these actions by the Donald Trump government.

Signed by Cuban Ambassador to South Africa Rodolfo Benitez, the article calls on all members of the international community, solidarity movements and friends of Cuba to reject the irrational escalation by the Donald Trump administration against the Caribbean island.

The diplomat refers to the increase in aggressions against Cuba since May, with the activation of Title III of the Helms Burton Act, which includes lawsuits in US courts against foreign companies outside its jurisdiction that have legally invested in Cuba, among other measures.

These sanctions reinforce the US economic, commercial and financial blockade on Cuba and flagrantly violate international law and attack the sovereignty and interests of third countries with the intention of suffocating the Cuban economy to achieve ‘a regime change’, Benitez says.


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Musicalia International Piano 2019 Event Concludes in Cuba

Havana, Jun 22 (Prensa Latina) The Musicalia International Piano 2019 event concludes on Saturday in Havana after completing an intense program of concerts and master classes in different locations of the city.

The event, conceived as a competitive contest for students and a space for exchange between piano specialists and apprentices, was attended by students from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Cuba.

The event, presided over by the Cuban pianist Ulises Hernandez had an interesting pedagogical program, particularly a special section of master classes.

About 20 contestants respoded to the call, including seven Cubans, and five foreigners who visited the island exclusively to learn lessons taught by recognized masters of the international piano scene.

Cuban-Mexican educator Ninowska Fernandez, founder of the event, the Dutch Henry Kelder, the Colombian Antonio Carbonell and the Cuban Cecilio Tieles, who also on the jury, are among those who have distinguished for their trajectory.

Musicalia International Piano 2019 event was dedicated to the memory of the eminent Cuban pedagogue and pianist Teresita Junco.


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Urban Music Festival in Central Cuba

Santa Clara, Cuba, Jun 23 (Prensa Latina) The fifth edition of the Hip Hop Music and Culture Festival is concluding in Santa Clara on Sunday with the participation of prominent artists of this gender from Cuba and Argentina.

About 300 hip hop musicians have performed since June 20 at El Mejunje Cultural Center and the Hermanos Saiz Association (AHS) in Santa Clara, the capital of the Cuban province of Villa Clara.

El Chiro, Black Light and the group La Alianza will perform at the closing concert on Sunday. The festival began on Thursday with an exhibition of artists who are also hip-hop musicians.

In the exhibition, painters reflected in their works themes related to hip hop, which was created in the late 1960s, in New York neighborhoods such as Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, in the United States.

Yamile Perez, producer of the event, told Prensa Latina that the Argentinean group Alto Guiso, made up of five women who sing and play hip hop, samba and other musical genres, performed during the first days of the festival.


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Global Organizations Continue Rejecting US Hostility against Cuba

Havana, June 22 (Prensa Latina) The hostility of the United States Government against Cuba with the activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which tightens the blockade, is still being condemned by world organizations.

In Rome, political and solidarity organizations with Cuba held a protest against the intensification of U.S. policy towards the Caribbean nation.

The participants expressed their support to Cuba in the face of the activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton and other measures, while highlighting the bravery and determination of the Cuban people in the face of successive attacks by the White House administration.

This week Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel reiterated that Washington’s economic blockade of his country will never block the principles, convictions and patriotism of his people.

In a message on Twitter he pointed out that the financial and resource consequences of the intensification of the blockade with the more severe application of the Helms-Burton Law, after its Titles III and IV were activated, will not affect the independence and sovereignty of the country.

In Havana, on the occasion of an economic forum with about 120 businessmen, the European Union condemned the extraterritorial, unilateral and contrary to international legislation applied by the United States against Cuba.

At the same meeting, Hugo Beteta, Director of the Subregional Office in Mexico of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, pointed out that Helms-Burton, with its abusively extraterritorial character, prohibits the right to trade and investment among nations and is an attempt against multilateralism.

The most recent incident of the Trump government against Cuba is the inclusion of the country in a report on human trafficking, which was rejected by the Cuban authorities, who described it as arbitrary and unilateral.


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US Venceremos Brigade Preparing Trip to Cuba

New York, USA, Jun 22 ( Prensa Latina ) The Venceremos Brigade, with activists from different parts of the United States, is preparing its next trip to Cuba, to be made in July, despite recent restrictions imposed by Washington.

Malcolm Sacks, one of the coordinators of the initiative, told Prensa Latina this year the Brigade is celebrating its 50th anniversary and it is expected that 200 people will be part of the solidarity expedition with Cuba to demand the end of the US blockade.

It is very important now that the most diversified group coming from the United States can see and know the Cuban reality, that’s why the members of the brigade come from some 20 States, from different generations, races, gender, professions, religions, class…, he explained.

Although over the years there have been numerous obstacles to travel to Cuba, those restrictions don’t stop us, he stressed, although we don’t know if the new measures of Donald Trump’s administration will bring us more problems when we return from Cuba in August.


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