Maduro said in a tweet today that over 10 million Venezuelans were enjoying their Semana Santa vacation by travelling throughout the country, and that they were participating in a host of wholesome activities. Below, the tweet:

Up until now more than 10 million people have moved around the country [to celebrate] Holy Seek. They have been able to enjoy around 13,000 activities of the Sports, Recreational and Cultural Festival, [and] visited [churches], as well as parks and beaches.

Amidst the worst social and economic crisis in the country’s history, the Maduro regime often appears preoccupied with presenting an image of Venezuelans as festive and joyous people, particularly during the holidays of Christmas and Holy Week.

In Venezuela, Holy Week is similar to what March Break is to people in North America, and tended to be celebrated with trips to the beach and religious observance.

The Semana Santa vacation tends to be accompanied by security initiatives, the stated goal of which are to help keep the peace given the heightened number of Venezuelans on roads and in beach areas. This year’s security initiative involves 195,000 police officers and soldiers deployed around the country, and will remain in effect until April 2.

El Nuevo Herald: Former Chavez Official Subject of “Enormous” Investigation

Miami’s El Nuevo Herald reported today that Alejandro Andrade, a former bodyguard to Hugo Chavez who ran the National Treasury from 2007 and 2010, is the subject of an “enormous” money laundering investigation. The same investigation, which is being conducted by U.S. federal authorities in Florida, also involves other individuals connected to the Chavez and Maduro governments.

According to the article, Andrade is under investigation for allegedly laundering “millions of dollars stolen from the Venezuelan state”, which were then invested in real estate and luxuries in Florida. Citing sources familiar with the investigation, El Nuevo Herald reported that Andrade laundered the money through companies that were not registered under his name, making the task of tracking the movement of the dirty cash all the more difficult.

The article includes information describing Andrade’s current life, one which it describes as being full of luxury and exuberance. According to the newspaper:

Andrade, who is 53 years old, travels frequently in his private airplane and lives in Wellington, an affluent community in Palm Beach Country, Florida, known for its equestrian competitions and high-class polo games, according to sources familiar with his activities and press reports.

He owns a home in Wellington, where his son has competed in equestrian events, as well as in Venezuela and in other parts of the world, according to the Starting Gate Communications promotional company. Andrade is also an associate at a ranch in South Carolina that raises exhibition horses and sponsors equestrian events.

The former treasurer had authority over Venezuelan’s bank accounts with HSBC, headquartered in Switzerland, which were used to secretly deposit billions of dollars in public funds, according to a report published in 2015 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Public Ministry Issues Arrest Warrants for 5 PoliCarabobo Police Officers

Attorney general Tarek William Saab announced today that arrest warrants had been issued for five Carabobo State Police (PoliCarabobo) officers in connection to the fire at the agency’s Valencia headquarters that killed 68 people on Wednesday. Saab said that the officers are accused of “being responsible” for the fire, and that they are already detained.

Saab made the announcement in a tweet, which I have translated below:

1) #NOW [The Public Ministry] has issued arrest warrants against 5 PoliCarabobo officers; accused of being responsible for the tragic events that caused the death of 68 citizens in the police jail headquarters: THEY HAVE BEEN ARRESTED #JUSTICE

It is not clear at this time in to what degree the five officers are believed to have been responsible for the fire, or exactly what charges have been laid in the case.

La Patilla has images of the burials of some of the fire’s victims here.

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


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