The Miami Herald published and article today in which it revealed that Venezuelan businessman Samark Lopez Bello, who was the target of sanctions by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on Monday, is a paying member at the Trump National Doral in Florida, one of President Trump’s golf clubs in that state. The Herald confirmed Lopez’s membership status after it was provided a copy of the club’s confidential memberlist list.
Membership at the Trump National Doral costs up to $50,000 plus annual fees.
Lopez was named as a figurehead for Venezuelan vice president Tareck El Aissami on Monday, and both are suspected of being involved in drug trafficking operations involving the shipping of drugs from Venezuela to Mexico. Aside from freezing the pairs’ assets in the United States and barring their entry into the country, thirteen corporate entities and an airplane connected to the two men were also sanctioned.
The Herald points out that Doral has one of the largest Venezuelan populations in the United States, and that the Doral National club has approximately 900 members.
Lopez Owns $16.5 Million Mansion in Miami
Univision published a video today in which it revealed that one of Lopez’s properties in the United States is a $16.5 million mansion in Miami, Florida. Below, some of the mansion’s specifications:
- 9 Bedrooms
- Marble floors
- A movie theater
- A private dock
Lopez purchased the mansion last year in cash, and it is registered to a company that has the same address as one of the thirteen that was sanctioned on Monday. However, the mansion has not been seized by the U.S. government.
According to Univision‘s investigation, Lopez and his family enjoyed a life of exuberant luxury out of the mansion.
The mansion is located in the exclusive Gables States area of Miami.
Univision‘s short clip showing the mansion can be found here.
U.S. Department of State: “Dismay and Concern” Over Political Prisoners
The United States Department of State issued a statement today on political prisoners in Venezuela in which it expressed its “dismay and concern” over the ongoing arbitrary arrests and other repressive actions that the Maduro regime has taken against political opponents.
Below, the full text of the statement:
President Trump called on Venezuela on February 15 to release opposition leader and political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez was sentenced last year to nearly 14 years in prison on the specious charges of inciting anti-government protests in 2014. The Venezuelan Supreme Court denied his appeals on February 16.
The Venezuelan government continues to arrest and imprison citizens from across Venezuelan society for their political beliefs. Currently, more than 100 such individuals are in prison. These include: Leopoldo Lopez, who will complete his third year in prison on February 18; Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who will complete his second year under house arrest as of February 19; former Mayor Daniel Ceballos; and many other students, activists, journalists, and peaceful protestors.
The United States reiterates its dismay and concern about these arrests, and other actions taken by the Venezuelan government to criminalize dissent and deny its citizens the benefits of democracy. We call for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience, respect for the rule of law, the freedom of the press, the separation of constitutional powers within the government, and the restoration of a democratic process that reflects the will of the Venezuelan people.
Opposition Marches for Lopez
The opposition held a demonstration in Caracas today to commemorate the three year anniversary of Leopoldo Lopez’s arrest following the unrest of February 12, 2014. That same day, Lopez was transported to the Ramo Verde Military Prison outside of Caracas, where he remained throughout the duration of a trial that culminated in September 2015 with the judge sentencing him to nearly 14 years in prison.
Opposition supporters marched on the Francisco Fajardo avenue in Caracas, accompanied by high-profile figures including Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, as well as Henry Ramos Allup, Julio Borges and Maria Corina Machado.
David Smolanksy, the mayor of the El Hatillo municipality, spoke at the protest, saying:
Three years ago Leopoldo Lopez was unjustly incarcerated. Three years ago he warned about what was about to arrive: a regime that assaults Venezuelans with scarcity, insecurity, corruption, censorship, and by persecuting those who think differently. His only crime was [participating in] in a non-violent protest. Today, more than 80% of the country wants Maduro gone.
Below, some images from today’s demonstration:
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