Venezuelagate grillino, background and characters. That’s where the 5 star torpedo comes from

An entire front page, a photo of an official document attributed to the Venezuelan government, a title that leaves no room for interpretation: "Chavismo financed the 5 Star Movement" . It is the scoop of the Spanish right-wing newspaper ABC , which fell on Italian politics on a Monday morning in June. Not really a lightning bolt, if we consider that the ideological affinities and the demonstrations of support of the grillini towards the social-communist regime of Maduro have been frequent over the years: from the conferences organized by Di Battista where he praised Chavism "Against capitalism and empire" , to the pilgrimages of the representatives of the movement (including Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Manlio Di Stefano) to Caracas, until Guaidò was not recognized as the country's legitimate interim president, breaking with the League of Salvini at that time allied government. In short, the political premises for attributing credibility to ABC's information are all there. Of course, if the authenticity of that document were confirmed, we would be faced with a qualitative leap capable of shaking the foundations if not of the Executive led by Giuseppe Conte, at least of the foreign ministry occupied by Luigi Di Maio.

The document published by the Spanish newspaper dates back to July 2010 and contains an internal report to the Venezuelan military secret service, which specifies that the "briefcase sent to the consul of the Bolivarian Republic in Milan" contained "3.5 million euros in cash" , and that their recipient was "an Italian citizen named Gianroberto Casaleggio" . The dispatch had been endorsed and authorized by the then Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro and the amount of money had been withdrawn from reserved funds administered by Tarek el Aissami, owner of the interior at the time of the events, to support "a revolutionary leftist movement and anti-capitalist " in Italy. The text concludes by referring to the "instructions given to our official in Italy not to continue giving information on the deal", in order to avoid diplomatic incidents between the two countries. In short, black on white, an illegal financing of a foreign country to an Italian party at the beginning of its dazzling political rise. ABC obviously does not cite its source and does not even explain how it got hold of the document. The information was immediately classified as "false" both by Venezuelan government sources and by Davide Casaleggio, son of Gianroberto who died in 2016, who threatened lawsuits. And some doubts have emerged in the last few hours: the stamp, depicting a somewhat dated symbol, pre-reformed in 2006, would be evidence of forgery.

The history of the financing of the Chavista regime to political forces of foreign states to export the principles of the "Bolivarian revolution" is long and sadly known: from the more than friendly relations with leading figures of Podemos in Spain (we speak of payments to the party of Iglesias for a total of 7 million dollars, partly conveyed through foundations partly through the frequencies of the Iranian broadcaster HispanTv ), to the penetration of Chavismo in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Argentina, where Cristina Fernández Kirchner is still under investigation for alleged funding received from Caracas on the occasion of the 2007 election campaign that would have led it to the presidency. Therefore, the payment to the 5 Star Movement should not cause any surprise, it would not be a unicum, but consistent with a consolidated practice of the Caracas regime.

But to understand the ramifications that the ABC scoop lets only glimpse, and try to trace the origin of the leak , to those who may have passed the document to the Spanish newspaper, it is worth dwelling on the characters involved and on the nature of the narco-chavista state .

The first, perhaps decisive, name that leaps to the eye in the possible plot revealed by ABC , is that of Hugo Carvajal, called " the chicken ", who in July 2010 was precisely at the top of the military intelligence of Hugo Chávez. In practice, the information on the 3.5 million in Casaleggio was directed to him. As previously reported on Atlantico Quotidiano , Carvajal was arrested in April 2019 by Spanish police at the request of the United States, on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering, like many members of the regime, and for his support for Colombian FARC . The Audiencia Nacional ruled in favor of extradition only seven months later: in the meantime Carvajal, provisionally released, had already escaped. Currently nobody knows where he is, at least officially: in fact some sources indicate that the former general is dealing with the conditions of his extradition through the Spanish secret services directly with the American authorities. At the time of his arrest, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, one of the architects of the White House strategy on Venezuela, declared: “ Hugo Carvajal will soon be in the United States where he will reveal important information on the Maduro regime. A bad day for the Madurist criminal family ”. The possibility, if not the certainty, that Carvajal could open the doors of the regime's illicit affairs and reveal its extent and international penetration is today one of the recurring nightmares of the Miraflores palace (the seat of the presidency in Caracas). And in a stalemate like the present, in which diplomacy and military option seem to have wet dust, this prospect could represent the only possible alternative to achieve the end of the Chavista regime without war drums.

Is it reasonable to think that Carvajal (or some former official of the regime close to him) is the source of the document published by ABC ? Carvajal's presence on Spanish soil for months, his explicit support for Guaidò, the ongoing negotiations with the United States government indicate that this is a likely hypothesis. There could be many of Carvajal's documents already in the hands of the US authorities with whom the former general would be dealing.

On the other hand, it is in an Italian, not Venezuelan, key that the timing of the revelation appears rather significant: a government in full Chinese syndrome, with the "Pekinese" Di Maio at the Farnesina, a 5 Star Movement in the internal landslide phase, a government ally (the Democratic Party) in confusion about what to do and therefore politically vulnerable. Internationally, yet another demonstration of Chavismo's disturbing action on traditional US allies, to be included in the global context of the new Cold War that is taking place on the Beijing-Washington axis (with repercussions on the respective satellites). Therefore, both the Venezuelan opposition, which has seen the 5 Stars go astray to the recognition of Guaidò by Italy, and Washington, increasingly intolerant for the pro-Chinese drift of the Conte government, would have good reasons to hit the Movement in its moment of greatest weakness and internal division.

A second important name that appears in the document is that of Tarek el Aissami, minister of the interior who with his reserved funds would have filled the briefcase intended for the grillini. As we had tried to explain in a previous article published in the Daily Atlantic over a year ago, about 60 percent of the drugs that enter Europe and the United States come from trades managed from Venezuelan territory. The dirty money passes through the network of state-owned enterprises controlled by the regime, above all the oil giant (PDVSA), now under the control of el Aissami. Of Syrian-Lebanese origins, he is a trusted man of Maduro, a sort of factotum passed through the folds of the system set up by Chávez and continued by his successor: at first deputy minister of security, then at the Interior and Justice, later in charge to restore order in the party, finally designated at the top of Industry and Production, with direct competences on the oil sector (PDVSA, in fact). But above all, el Aissami is on the black list of American justice, wanted by the immigration services for drug trafficking and money laundering, with an open case before the Federal Court of Manhattan. Since February 2017 it is also under sanctions from the Treasury Department. Even the European Union recently sanctioned him as high official of Sebin (the regime's secret service) for repeated "human rights violations", including arbitrary arrests and torture of political prisoners. In short, a ninety piece of 21st century socialism.

But also on his Middle Eastern connections, thanks to the origin of his family (the father, a Syrian Druze emigrant, was head of the Venezuelan section of the Ba'ath party, that of Saddam Hussein and Bashar al Assad), there are several dossiers open: on top of all what reveals the economic and political ties between Venezuela and Iran , in a joint strategy that on the one hand provides for the direct commercial and military penetration of Tehran in Latin America and on the other the on-site financing of terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. A relationship that continues today, as evidenced, among other things, by the arrival of five Iranian ships loaded with oil in the Venezuelan port of El Palito, in the midst of an internal production crisis.

El Aissami is believed to be the link between the Venezuelan regime and Hezbollah, hence Tehran. According to Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, El Aissami, when he was head of Onidex , the Venezuelan agency that manages passport issuance and naturalizations for the Ministry of Interior, "is suspected of having issued passports to members Hamas and Hezbollah ", both terrorist organizations that respond to the Iranian regime. Additionally, Morgenthau reported at a Brookings Institution conference on September 8, 2009, "there are also allegations that el Aissami and other Hezbollah affiliates are responsible for recruiting young Venezuelan Arabs who are now being trained in Hezbollah camps in southern Lebanon. ".

Accusations, both those related to drug trafficking and ties to Hezbollah, confirmed by a dossier of the same Venezuelan intelligence cited a year ago by the New York Times . According to the testimonies collected in the dossier, El Aissami and his father would have brought Hezbollah militants into the country and trained in order to expand both espionage and drug trafficking networks in Latin America.

If, therefore, the money that would have arrived in Casaleggio through the Venezuelan consulate in Milan was withdrawn from the reserved funds administered by el Aissami, an Iranian involvement cannot be excluded, since that treasure is presumably the result of joint activities between the two regimes. As we mentioned, also in the case of financing in Podemos Tehran and Caracas have collaborated.

The issues that open up after the ABC revelation are varied. First of all, it is politically relevant that Chávez had identified the 5 Star Movement as a potential anti-system party from the beginning, four years before the birth of Podemos in Spain, which would indicate that the Chavism strategy has distant roots; secondly, it should be ascertained whether it was a one-off payment or whether the alleged financing has been repeated over the years: in this case we would face a rather revealing déjà vu , in a country accustomed to dealing with parties financed by socialist regimes, with the aggravating circumstance that, while the PCI was never a government force in Italy, the M5S expresses the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister; Finally, and back to the international scenario, just another Spanish conservative newspaper ( El Mundo ) today reveals that the former Zapatero ambassador to Venezuela, Raúl Morodo, would have delivered sums of money to a representative of the Venezuelan vice-presidency in the context of a round of payments from the government of Caracas to the diplomat's family, through the omnipresent state oil company (PDVSA). In short, everything suggests that someone, somewhere, is talking and that in Maduro ( and its " European colonies " ) in the coming days the ears will whistle.

The post Venezuelagate grillino, background and characters. That's where the 5 Star torpedo came from first appeared on the Daily Atlantic .

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Atlantico Quotidiano at the URL on Tue, 16 Jun 2020 04:11:00 +0000.