Once again, the Central Intelligence Agency has been caught financing a group of grifters and fraudsters at the expense of the American taxpayers. In the latest case, just another in the agency’s 72-year history, the Trump administration-appointed ad hoc board of CITGO, the US subsidiary of the state-owned Venezuelan oil company, PDVSA, stands accused of steering $70 million of escrowed funds, earmarked for PDVSA’s fiscal year 2020 bond, to the pockets of CIA-supported officials of the Venezuelan opposition “Popular Will” party headed by the so-called “interim president” of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.
In addition to Guaidó, who is accused by the legitimate Venezuelan government of money laundering, treason, and corruption, other Popular Will leaders under investigation by both the Venezuelan Attorney General and the US Justice Department include Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó’s envoy in Washington; Rossana Barrera and Kevin Rojas, Guaidó’s emissaries in Cucuta, a Colombian-Venezuelan border town; Sergio Vargara, Barrera’s brother-in-law and a Member of the Venezuelan Congress; Guaidó’s “ambassador” to Colombia, Humberto Calderon Berti, opposition businessman Miguel Sabal; and Guaidó’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero. Over two dozen other Popular Will leaders are also under investigation for fraud involving money earmarked by the Trump administration, particularly Iran-Contra scandal felon and current Trump special envoy for regime change in Venezuela, Elliot Abrams.
Barrera and Rojas are accused of spending money given to the Popular Will by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), a longtime CIA financial pass-through, for “humanitarian relief” for alleged massive numbers of Venezuelan refugees in Colombia. The Popular Will grifters reportedly used the aid money, including that which was raised by Virgin Group’s billionaire founder and obvious CIA dupe Richard Branson, for expensive hotels, fancy restaurants, nightclubs, prostitutes, and clothing.
It comes as little surprise that Abrams, with his history of “sticky fingers” around US and foreign assistance money, has played a hand in the Venezuelan opposition fraud. As Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs during the Ronald Reagan administration Abrams was involved in the illegal raising of funds for the CIA-supported right-wing Contras fighting against the socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. In 1991, facing a felony perjury conviction for lying to Congress, Abrams pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information to Congress about his fundraising activities for the Contras. In 1992, Abrams and other Iran-Contra criminals were pardoned by President George H. W. Bush, one of the unindicted Iran-Contra co-conspirators. Abrams surfaced again in 2001 in the George W. Bush administration. He was involved in the abortive 2002 CIA coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as well as in cooking US intelligence to justify the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Abrams’s involvement in any US covert activities in always an indication of massive fraud. Abrams’s backing of Guaidó and his operatives and recent reports of fraud are not much different than the notorious Republican Party neo-con’s sordid record with such Contra leaders as Adolfo Calero, the president of the Nicaraguan Democratic Forces (FDN); Arturo Cruz; Alfonso Robelo; Edén Pastora; and Enrique Bermúdez.
CIA funds directed to the Contras for the purchase of weapons soon found their way into the hands of Colombian drug lords, including Pablo Escobar and Carlos Lehder of the Medellin Cartel. An elaborate scheme was worked out that saw the Contras buying, with CIA funds, weapons and cocaine, with the former ending up in the hands of the Medellin Cartel and the latter being shipped to the United States with a very handsome financial return. Everyone made out nicely, including Contra leaders who spent much of their time in Miami donating funds to Republican coffers through the offices of top Cuban-American leaders like Jorge Mas Canosa [. . .]