Spain’s ABC published an article today in which it claims that the Presidential Honour Guard is directly involved in the drug trade in Venezuela, and that drug money was and is used to fund PSUV electoral campaigns.

The newspaper claims that the drug-trafficking organization Efrain and Francisco Flores formed a part of operated under the supervision of the Presidential Honour Guard, the security organization tasked with safeguarding the President and his family. Moreover, the same article cites a DEA source as saying that drug money helped fund Maduro’s 2013 presidential campaign, and that the same arrangement was made to fund the current parliamentary election campaign.

The article alleges that aside from the fact that the pilot of the plane that flew the two men to Haiti last week on their drug-trafficking trip is active duty Air Force Lt. Col. Pedro Miguel Rodriguez Gonzalez, the Flores cousins were also escorted by members of the Presidential Guard.

The newspaper claims that the same source said that Runway 4 at the Simon Bolivar International Airport – reserved exclusively for use by the President – was routinely used by drug-smuggling aircraft.

Tintori, Entourage Blocked by Pro-Government Crowd

Yesterday morning, Lilian Tintori – Leopoldo Lopez’s wife – denounced through her Twitter account that pro-government groups were blocking her entrance into Cojedes state. In a series of tweets, Tintori said that her car was surrounded by motorcycles and trucks that were acting in a “threatening” manner.

Tintori suggested that the crowd was sent by First Lady Cilia Flores, who is running for a National Assembly. Some of the people in the crowd are wearing “Vote for Cilia Flores” shirts.

Later on in the day, a video taken from inside the SUV in which Tintori was riding surfaced. Tintori appears to be one of four people in the SUV, one of whom recorded the events. In the video, a pro-government crowd chants, hurls insults and hits the SUV, demanding that it back up and go back where it came from.

Below, the video along with my translation:

Crowd: Chanting “Leave! Leave!”

Man Riding Shotgun: Back up. Back up. Don’t go forward. Just back up like you normally would, and Mariana, record everything..

Woman (likely Tintori): Cilia Flores sent them

Man Riding Shotgun: And the SEBIN [police] people are out there, and [unintelligible]. Keep backing up. We’re not leaving because we want to. They’re kicking us out. I mean — they’re intimidating us.

Man in Sunglasses: Move it! Move it! Turn it around, dude! Turn it around, you cocksucker!

Man Riding Shotgun: Now you can turn around.

Man in Sunglasses: Turn around, you cocksucker! Murderer! Get out of here!

Tintori: And the SEBIN did nothing.

After the event, Tintori wrote in a series of tweets that she felt she felt afraid during the ordeal, and linked the event to the overall situation of the country:

This is how millions of Venezuelans live every day. We’ve been kidnapped by violence, fear, persecution, and by the terrorism that this regime causes.

MUD Files Complaint over MINMUD before CNE; CNE Rules in Favour of MUD

The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the country’s official opposition bloc, filed a formal complaint before the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) yesterday regarding the MINUNIDAD, a party with a similar name and colour scheme to the opposition bloc. The MUD claims that MINUNIDAD exists only to confuse voters into voting for a bloc other than the official opposition.

On December 6, the electronic machines on which Venezuelans will vote will display the following symbols:

Venezuelans will vote by clicking on the symbol of the party or bloc they support. The one on the left (MUD UNIDAD) is the official opposition bloc, while the one on the right (MINUNIDAD) is a pro-government party. To make matters more confusing, the two symbols will appear side-by-side on the voting machines:

On filing the official complaint, the head of the MUD, Jesus Torrealba, said:

This is a dirty campaign. This isn’t an electoral irregularity: it’s a crime. This is fraud against the good intentions of the voters (…) an electoral campaign such as this is aimed directly at creating confusion for the opposition elector. This is a violation of a fundamental human right: the right to suffrage.

Today, the CNE agreed with the MUD’s arguments, and ordered the MINUNIDAD party to remove all of its political ads due to how similar they are to the MUD’s. The announcement was made by CNE rector Luis Rondon, who said:

Political organizations should abide strictly by the rules. [My] doors are open to complaints from citizens regarding the electoral campaign at RectorRondon@cne.gob.ve.

Torrealba also denounced the fact that former Minister of Transport and current National Assembly candidate Haiman El Troudi stood alongside Maduro as he handed over public works on Saturday, an act that directly violates CNE campaign rules. Torrealba said:

He’s a [PSUV] candidate, so he uses things that belong to all Venezuelans – public works built with money and resources from all Venezuelans – to conduct his electoral campaign.

Torrealba pointed out that the CNE “doesn’t say anything” about these clear violations, a fact he qualifies as evidence of “moral depravity”.

Maduro Reacts to NSA Leak

Speaking on television last night, Maduro accused the United States government of spying on PDVSA and its employees. Maduro said:

Today, some classified documents from the United States came to light thanks to agent [Edward] Snowden and some other agents from the NSA. They’ve revealed that the United States and the United States embassy in Caracas spied on the private lives of 10,000 PDVSA workers over 10 years, what they did each day, what work they were going (…) The United States Empire, starting a long time ago, has tried to sabotage the oil industry and overthrow the Bolivarian government so that they can come over here and take oil away from Venezuelans.

Maduro’s comments come in light of a leaked document dated November 10, 2012 that appears to have been written by an NSA agent. In the document, the agent outlines some of the steps he took to gain access to private information belonging to then-PDVSA head Rafael Ramirez. The agent also mentions that “Caracas” (presumably either the US embassy and/or intelligence agents working in Caracas) monitor internet activity in the country using XKEYSCORE, an NSA program that analyses internet data.

Maduro asked the United States government to “apologize” to the Venezuelan people over the news, and that he had ordered a re-evaluation of relations with the country:

I’ve ordered and investigation. I’ve ordered Foreign Minister [Delcy Rodriguez] to call a meeting tomorrow with the [diplomatic] chief of staff from the United States so that she can hand them a note of protest, and I’ve ordered the Minister to begin a re-evaluation of relations with the United States government.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

One thought on “11.19.15: The Honour Guard

  1. Pingback: 11.27.15: Deception | In Venezuela

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