Yesterday, the PanAm Post published an explosive article which alleges that money meant to go towards humanitarian aid for Venezuelans in Colombia has been embezzled by individuals appointed to oversee it by Juan Guaido. The article sent shockwaves throughout Venezuela, and has forced Guaido and the Voluntad Popular (Popular Will, VP) party to respond.
The article alleges that money meant to help Venezuelan soldiers who had defected into Colombia was instead embezzled by the individuals placed in charge of it.
According to the article’s author, Orlando Avendaño, an individual appointed to oversee the handling of the money named Rossana (or Roxana) Barrera is at the heart of the scandal. Avendaño wrote:
They handed me all of the evidence. Receipts that show excess… expenses of more than 3,000,000 Colombian pesos in Colombian hotels and at clubs, per night. A thousand dollars in drinks and food. Purchases in expensive stores in Bogota and in Cucuta. Reports of vehicle rentals and hotel payments at a surcharge. The money flowed. Lots of money.
Avendaño alleges that one of the scams that Barrera ran was to inform her superiors in Caracas that she needed money to pay for Venezuelan soldiers and their relatives who were staying at seven different hotels. Her superiors sent her the money to cover the expenses that she was reporting, but in reality there were only two hotels, not seven.
Avendaño also claims that a second individual appointed by the Guaido government to oversee the funds, a man named Kevin Rojas, was also involved in the embezzlement.
Guaido Asks Colombian Authorities to Investigate Allegations
Guaido responded to the PanAm Post article by asking that the Colombian authorities launch an investigation into the embezzlement allegations, vowing to adhere to the principle of “transparency above all!”
Guaido’s call echoes that of Organization of American States (OAS) secretary general Luis Almagro, who also asked the relevant authorities to launch an investigation into the allegations. Almagro said:
There is no democratization possible under the opacity of corrupt acts.
… everyone named in the case have been removed from their positions while the investigation takes place. We believe in the right to a defense and in the presumption of innocence, and at the same time we are acting responsibly and with haste to guarantee the transparency of the necessary investigation.
The statement also claims that the funds were never under the control of “any delegation or organization from the legitimate government of Venezuela [the Guaido government]”, and that instead the funds were administered by external organizations.
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