Armando.info, a Venezuelan investigative journalism website, published an article today in which it outlined a network of corruption linking regime officials and opposition figures. The scheme allegedly involved regime officials and individuals with ties to the regime hiring opposition politicians to lobby international actors on their behalf, with the goal of having those actors either lift sanctions or stop investigations into the individuals.
According to the investigation, opposition politicians wrote “letters of good conduct” to officials at the Colombian Attorney General’s Office and the United States Department of the Treasury in a scheme that effectively rented opposition influence abroad to the benefit of corrupt regime officials.
Armando.info revealed that rumours of the scheme first surfaced on Twitter on November 6 of this year, when National Assembly deputy Jose Guerra said that there were efforts underway by corrupt individuals with links to the Maduro regime to bribe opposition politicians into lobbying for them abroad.
The website claims that it has had access to “documents and communications” going back to early 2018 that prove that the effort was underway back then.
The investigation names a number of opposition National Assembly deputies in the scheme, including Luis Eduardo Parra Rivero and Jose Brito (from the Primero Justicia party), and Adolfo Superlano (now expelled from the Cambiemos party).
Guaido Acknowledges Corruption Involving Regime, Opposition Members
Without directly referencing the Armando.info report, Guaido appeared to be pre-empting the news in a Twitter thread in which he acknowledge corrupt dealings involving regime officials and members of the opposition.
Guaido said that according to the information that he has received, the number of opposition legislators who participated in this corruption scheme is three or four.
Below, Guaido’s thread along with my translation:
The entire country must know my position regarding a series of corrupt dealings that involve several members of the dictatorship, a few disappointing individuals in parliament and clear international interests that are financing this awful plan.
I want to announce that tomorrow I will reveal part of the delicate information that we’ve received.
Moreover, I will announce decisions and measures that will be taken against those who are trying to play games with the trust that our people have placed on us.
I will not allow corruption to put at risk everything that we’ve sacrificed in our fight for freedom.
[I will not allow this to happen because of the actions of] the regime nor those from a small group of immoral people who want to split Venezuelans.
We will not cover up anyone’s crimes. You can forget about that.
Stay tuned tomorrow. We’re moving forward.
During a press conference, Guaido announced that he was taking eight measures in order to root out the corruption outlined in the Armando.info report. The measures are:
- Invalidate all documents from the Comptroller’s Commission at the National Assembly vindicating individuals accused of corruption.
- Restructure the Comptroller’s Commission at the National Assembly.
- Suspend the deputies accused of corruption in the report.
- Launch an investigation into the allegations.
- Invite journalists from Armando.info to present their report at the National Assembly.
- Announce publicly that no opposition official has the ability to lobby on behalf of any other official abroad.
- Reiterate that anyone, even ordinary citizens, can run to be the head of the Comptroller’s Commission at the National Assembly.
- Ask the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) members to take “further measures” on the case (note: it is not clear what these “further measures” might look like).
For their part, the Voluntad Popular and Primero Justicia opposition parties kicked out the deputies named in the Armando.info report from their ranks.
Venezuela Cut Off From Internet for Scheduled Cable Maintenance
Venezuela was largely cut off from the internet today due to scheduled maintenance on an underwater communication cable. Customers with Movistar, Inter Empresarial, and Century Link were most affected by the blackout, while those with the state-owned CANTV network appeared to have maintained their connections.
The outage lasted approximately from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM. The outage only affected international connections.
According to Century Link, the underwater cable in question–named Ambush Ranger–was damaged last week on a stretch called the Panama-Saint Croix.
Below, a tweet from Netblocks, an NGO that monitors internet disruptions, on the outage in Venezuela today:
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