Former PDVSA chief and ambassador to the United Nations Rafael Ramirez published an open letter today in which he made a number of allegations against the Maduro regime and its officials, the latest blow in a rift that had turned Ramirez into a mortal enemy of the PSUV establishment.

In the letter, Ramirez calls himself a “revolutionary” who has “fought loyally beside Commander Chavez” throughout his career, and laments the fact that the Maduro regime has turned against him due to the fact that it no longer reflects the values of chavismo. After asking why the Maduro regime has turned against him, Ramirez wrote:

The answer is tough but increasingly evident, even if we deny it or refuse to acknowledge or speak about it: for a long time, this government has stopped being that which Commander Chavez wanted for his people and for his country, and has distanced itself from his Legacy [sic] and his Homeland Plan, and is a socialist government even less.

Ramirez was the head of the state-owned PDVSA oil firm from 2004 until 2014, arguably one of the most important positions in the Venezuelan government. In 2014, he was made ambassador to the United Nations, a position in which he served until he published a set of articles critical of the Maduro regime late last year. Ramirez was subsequently stripped of his ambassadorship.

The Ramirez-PSUV rift reached its apex three days ago when the Public Ministry announced that it would ask INTERPOL to arrest Ramirez on charged of corruption.

For Ramirez, Maduro made a fundamental error in judgement when he began to work to replace Chavez instead of simply continuing his work, and partially blames “a strange group” of advisers and confidants who have been working since the first day of the Maduro presidency to their own benefit without regard for the Venezuelan people or the chavista project.

Such is the magnitude of the personal greed inside the Maduro presidency, Ramirez claims in his latter, that regime officials have even held secret meetings with representatives from the United States government as well as private enterprises for their personal benefit. In his allegations, Ramirez suggests that the only reason why Washington and Caracas have not reached a public agreement is because the United States has demanded “all” from Venezuela.

Ramirez wrote:

The government, in secret, has tried to establish some type of pact with the empire [the United States], but it wants [Venezuela] to give it all up.

Special business [representatives] and minister have gone north to offer agreements, offering oil [exploitation] opportunities, contributions to the President’s innaguration, they’ve done everything [sic].

While syntax and Ramirez’s opaque writing style it make difficult to discern what he means by “contributions to the President’s inauguration”, it is likely the phrase might be a reference to the fact that the Maduro regime donated $500,000 to Donald Trump’s inauguration last year.

On the alleged secret meetings between PSUV officials and their U.S. counterparts, Ramirez continues:

In New York, it was known that two ministers went to talk to Exxon Mobil to offer them gifts [so that they would] return to the [Orinoco] Oil Belt, [and] even to jointly exploit the areas on the borders of the country that had been usurped by them de facto.

Since his break with the PSUV, Ramirez has appealed to romanticized notions of chavismo and the Chavez presidency, possibly in an attempt to position himself as a true successor to Chavez for a future presidential run. Despite his rhetoric, Ramirez’s position atop the political ladder in the Chavez era meant that he is directly responsible for many of the decisions and acts that have caused the collapse of the country over the past several years.

In 2016, the National Assembly discovered that at least $11 billion were embezzled out of PDVSA while Ramirez was president.

Rodriguez Paints Alternative Facts Reality in Interview

Constituent Assembly president Delcy Rodriguez appeared today on Jose Vicente Ho, a pro-regime interview television show that airs on Sunday. The show is typically used as a platform for regime figures to answer softball questions on developments in the country.

In today’s episode, Rodriguez took full opportunity of the platform to provide the regime’s take on the overwhelming negative reaction from the international community on recent events in the country. When asked by Rangel if Venezuela was becoming isolated from the international community, Rodriguez said:

No. Venezuela is the victim of an international media lynching (…) Venezuela continues to be an example for Latin American and the world, an example of dignity, as was and is Cuba. We’re spaces where we build examples of strength, examples of how to defend international rights, the sovereignty of nations. Venezuela can never be isolated or fenced off.

In fact, Venezuela has never been more isolated from the international community than it is today. Top-ranking regime officials are the targets of financial and travel sanctions from the governments of Canada, the United States, and most recently the European Union (EU). The EU has also banned the sale of weapons to Venezuela, while Washington also has sanctions in place limited the regime’s access to financing. In Latin America, the Lima Group–comprised of 12 regional countries–continues to work to put pressure on the Maduro regime to turn back from authoritarianism and restore democratic order in Venezuela.

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

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