Persecution against the press in Venezuela: the Chavista dictatorship accused journalists from ArmandoInfo of being part of an extortion structure

Persecution against the press in Venezuela: the Chavista dictatorship accused journalists from ArmandoInfo of being part of an extortion structure
Persecution against the press in Venezuela: the Chavista dictatorship accused journalists from ArmandoInfo of being part of an extortion structure

The attorney general of Venezuela, the Chavista Tarek William Saab. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

The Attorney General of Venezuela, Chavista Tarek William Saabaccused journalists this Tuesday of being part of an “extortion structure” financed by the former Minister of Petroleum Tareck El Aissamiarrested for corruption, allegations that reporters rejected as a “defamatory maneuver.”

Saab said that El Aissami – arrested on April 9 for embezzlement of funds in the state oil company PDVSA – “had at his service an extortionate media structure” to “attack the State authorities” and mentioned communicators from the journalism portal of investigation ArmandoInfowho has made multiple complaints of irregularities in state companies and projects, as well as to other journalists.

The accused journalists, Edwald Scharfenberg and Roberto Deniz, They went into exile in 2018 after being sued by the Colombian businessman Alex Saab, a contractor for the regime and who is accused of being Nicolás Maduro’s front man. Press union organizations considered the persecution an “act of harassment.” The journalists denounced the case of millionaire thefts of subsidized food contracts for the poor of Venezuela.

The prosecutor denounced “dirty war campaigns” against politicians or businessmen contrary to “the interests” of the former minister, demanding payments of $30,000 to $100,000 to “soften” or “remove” postsand asserted that “ghost accounts” on social networks were also used for this purpose.

The Venezuelan journalist, Roberto Deniz, in an archive photograph. EFE/Lenin Nolly

He released a video of the businessman Samark LopezEl Aissami’s right-hand man and also detained, in which he claims that communicators received payments from El Aissami’s entourage.

“Nothing more absurd and implausible. We have written dozens of reports precisely about López, El Aissami and the irregularities in PDVSA (…). “I denounce this defamatory maneuver as clumsy and malicious,” he reacted in X Scharfenbergeditor of ArmandoInfo and mentioned by Saab.

Furthermore, Scharfenberg noted that Saab’s accusations are related to the proximity of the documentary about Alex Saab, which will premiere next Tuesday on the network PBS in United States.

“It is a criminalization of the work we have done for years,” Deniz published, for his part.

Mr. Tarek William Saab now serves as the librettist of the quagmire that is today Chavismo and its fallen hero El Aissami. Your accusation against me and the work we do in ArmandoInfo It’s a bad joke. “It was us who in 2022 revealed what was happening at PDVSA,” added Deniz in his X account.

Nicolás Maduro at the ALBA Summit. EFE/ Miguel Gutiérrez

Deniz pointed out that asking Tarek William Saab for seriousness and rigor is absurd, but that does not make his nonsense any less.

Notably The Attorney General’s Office of Venezuela, headed by Saab, is used by the Maduro regime to attack politicians, journalists, social leaders and any type of dissident voice. The organization lacks credibility.

El Aissami, who was a close collaborator of the dictator Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), was arrested for diverting income from the sale of crude oil through crypto assets, a failed mechanism designed to evade United States sanctions against Venezuela. The embezzlement is estimated at almost 17 billion dollars.

There are more than 60 detainees as a result of this case.

The prosecutor also accused the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) of financing reports against the Maduro regime, who is seeking re-election on July 28, which would project him to 18 years in power.

Alex Saab is related to several companies, including Group Grand Limited (GGL), accused of supplying the Maduro regime with overpriced food and supplies for the government’s Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP). A US government official indicated in July 2019 that with the CLAPs, which are given to the poorest, the Colombian businessman and three of Maduro’s stepchildren apparently profited from “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

In Maduro’s first years in Miraflores, these were some of the fortunes stored by Saab: 120 million dollars from preferential dollar allocations in the so-called “Sicad auctions”; another 125 million dollars with contracts for the sale of bulk raw materials, such as corn, wheat or soybeans; and an agreement for 4,000 million dollars for oil exploitation with Trenacodomiciled in Colombia and Switzerland, headed by Colombian businessman Carlos Gutiérrez Robayo, according to Semana magazine.

For its part, between 2016 and 2018, Saab’s extensive network obtained contracts for nearly $1.5 billion in the name of Group Grand Limited -registered in Hong Kong- and Asasi Food Fze -registered in the United Arab Emirates-. These companies not only signed agreements with the Venezuelan regime for the Clap boxes, they also did so to supply medicines, spare parts and even toys.

(With information from AFP)

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