Álex Saab and ‘El Pollo’ Carvajal, the two men who can end Maduro

Collage with Maduro in the center with the flag of Venezuela and on either side El Pollo and Álex Saab

© Provided by El Independiente
Collage with Maduro in the center with the flag of Venezuela and on either side El Pollo and Álex Saab

Nicolás Maduro has his sights set on the United States. It is there that two men who know everything about the Chavista regime are going to appear before Justice: with whom do Maduro and his family do business and what they give in return. They are the Colombian businessman Álex Saab Morán and General Hugo Carvajal Barrios, known as The chicken, who was head of the military intelligence with Hugo Chávez. Saab is already in Miami, recently extradited from Cape Verde, and The chicken, still in Madrid, pending its imminent shipment to the United States.

The furious reaction of the Chavista regime upon learning that Álex Saab (Barranquilla, 1971) was transferred to Miami on October 16 confirms the relevance he has for Nicolás Maduro. “They have kidnapped a good, innocent man, a clean man, a hard-working man, who what he has done is to love the people of Venezuela,” said the Chavista leader about whom the prosecutor Luisa Ortega said was his front man.

Hours later they announced that suspended their participation in the negotiations with the opposition that had started last August in Mexico City. On Sunday they had called a session but Jorge Rodríguez, head of the official delegation, announced that they would not attend. They have not given details on when they will return.

What the regime itself has recognized is that Saab acted on its behalf against countries such as Iran or Turkey. They portray him as a special envoy seeking humanitarian aid, a diplomat, and to avoid his extradition they tried to give him negotiator status at the Mexican table.

Last weekend the Chavista regime organized a rally that was joined by a few hundred loyalists to denounce the “kidnapping.” Alex Saab’s current wife, the Italian model Camilla Fabri, read a letter from the businessman, written before his arrival in the United States, in which he assured that he would not bow down or confess anything because he had nothing to confess. Saab had been detained on June 12, 2020 when his private plane made a stopover on its way to Iran.

In a July 2020 letter, shortly after his arrest in Cape Verde, Arreaza sent a letter to Saab saying: “We have reasonable grounds to believe that if you are extradited to the United States, you will be put under pressure, legitimate or no, to reveal information that puts this country at great risk.

With an orange jumpsuit and long scruffy hair, Álex Saab appeared on Tuesday, October 19, before Judge John O’Sullivan from the Federal Court for the Southern District of Florida. He did it by videoconference. He faces eight counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and seven counts of money laundering. It will be next November 1 when he has to plead guilty or not guilty. The Colombian Justice also has it in the spotlight.

This Friday, the State Department announced a reward of ten million dollars for information leading to the capture of his partner, Álvaro Pulido Vargas, also Colombian, accused of money laundering.

“Starting in 2015, Pulido and others began working to obtain or retain contracts to provide food to the Venezuelan people. Polished his conspirators allegedly increased the cost of producing the food boxes for personal gain … The conspirators were able to pay kickbacks and kickbacks to Venezuelan government officials who helped them win the contract to produce the boxes and earn millions of dollars in earnings », says the statement.

The Treasury Department sanctioned Saab for being a “speculator” who had enriched himself from contracts linked to the food distribution program called CLAP. Pulido was also sanctioned that year for money laundering. Linked to this case, they transferred about 350 million dollars to bank accounts in the southern district of Florida and from there to other countries.

Symbol of the Chavista kleptocracy

Roberto Deniz, reporter for digital Armando.Info, is one of the people who best knows the businesses in which Álex Saab has been involved. Another Saab expert is Univision’s head of research, Gerardo Reyes.

Deniz has just been accused of “inciting hatred” by the Chavista regime. He has lived in Bogotá since 2018 because since then Deniz and his environment suffered harassment from Chavismo. “I am concerned for my family because judicial police officers went to my parents’ house in Caracas. It is a theater because they know that I am not there. It is a form of intimidation through the family “, Deniz said this Saturday to The Independent.

In an interview, made shortly after Saab’s arrest, portrayed the Colombian businessman as “the financial mastermind of Maduro, his main contractor, who is also in charge of sourcing food from the Turkish market that buys fuel in Iran. The way of operating is always the same: they create instrumental partnerships for certain businesses and disappear as quickly as they arose. It has a lot of information on the diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars.

«It is the most important symbol of the kleptocracy that Venezuela has become. He handles a lot of information about corruption schemes that have developed in recent years in which he has participated and other economic groups close to Maduro have participated, ”Deniz told Univision journalist Jorge Ramos this week.

Close to Maduro already Cilia Flores, Saab knows about the relationships of the chamos, the children of the first combatant, with corruption. They are Walter, Yoswal and Yosser Gavidia Flores, and he has also dealt with one of the nephews, Carlos Erik Malpica Flores, who was vice president of PDVSA. It is in the documentation of the US Department of the Treasury.

Saab even sued Armando.Info for linking him to Maduro and his food program. Jorge Arreaza, Chavista foreign minister, recognized him later as a “government agent on a humanitarian mission.” Nowadays, it is precisely why they have argued that they were suspending the negotiations: they accuse the United States of “kidnapping” a Venezuelan diplomat. They refer to Alex Saab.

He can provide information about the relationship between him and the children and nephew of Cilia Flores, something that should concern Maduro, and about the opaque business with Iran, Turkey and Russia »

roberto deniz, setting up, info

«He has to face the cause of money laundering, among other crimes. Either you collaborate or you plead not guilty, you face the trial and you risk getting out of everything at the trial. Sooner or later your lawyers will recommend that you negotiate. It can provide information on cases of massive corruption that involve the highest level of power, his relationship with the chamos, Cilia Flores’ children and nephew, something that Maduro should worry about, and he must also handle a lot of information about the opaque deals with Turkey, Iran and Russia, countries that condemned Cape Verde for extradition. That is the main concern and not only of Maduro and not only in Caracas, “says journalist Roberto Deniz from Bogotá.

But Saab is not only interested in the United States because of its knowledge of the corruption scheme of the Chavista regime. As Andrés Oppenheimer has written in The Miami Herald, and Gerardo Reyes corroborates us in an interview, “Saab was Maduro’s secret envoy to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and could know if Iran is sending long-range missiles to Venezuela that could destabilize the military balance in Latin America”.

Reyes, author of ALex Saab, the truth about the businessman who became a billionaire in the shadow of Nicolás Maduro, has confirmed to The Independent, how Saab is the nexus between Ayatollah Khamenei and Maduro. In fact, when he was arrested he carried a letter from Maduro accrediting him as his envoy, as published Associated Press.

Saab could know if Iran has already sent or plans to send missiles to Venezuela capable of reaching the United States »

andrés oppenheimer, ‘the miami herald’

According to Oppenheimer, “Saab could know if Iran has already sent or plans to send missiles to Venezuela capable of reaching the United States.” Remember the missile crisis of 1962? The United States has been investigating this issue for more than a year.

At least two Iranian cargo ships have arrived in Venezuela. According to Politico, the cargo may include rapid attack vessels, which may be armed, and which Tehran often uses to harass US ships in the Persian Gulf.

According to Oppenheimer, the magazine Week from Colombia, published last September that between 12 and 17 Iranian planes loaded with weapons had recently landed in Venezuela. Two Iranian navy ships had also tried to reach Venezuela but were detected by the US and had to change their destination. According Week, the planes carried “a total of 1,050 missiles, 400 bombs, 500 rockets, 30 containers and 35 radars.” Iran’s objective would be to be able to respond to the US from Venezuela in the event of an attack on its territory.

‘El Pollo’ knows everything about drug trafficking

As Ibéyise Pacheco, the only journalist who spoke with El Pollo in Madrid two years ago when she declared her support for Juan Guaidó and left Venezuela, says, “Entre The chicken and Saab have the complete scheme of the financial engineering of Chavismo ». He was in charge of the Directorate of Military Intelligence between July 2004 and December 2011, and again from April 2013 to January 2014.

Of himself The chicken He said that “he knew too much and that was his virtue, all he knows.” He has prepared intelligence files on all the criminal activities in which the regime has been involved since the time of Chávez, be it drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking, corruption and money laundering. It has all the names, especially from the Chávez era.

He did not get along with Maduro, probably because he knew who was Chávez’s successor, that The chicken he is also aware of all his weaknesses. Hugo Chávez ordered him to investigate everyone. And Maduro was not spared.

To Ibéyise Pacheco, everything that Hugo Carvajal is telling in Spain since he was detained last September, after being trapped in a Madrid home, seems plausible. He has revealed that the former head of the Spanish government José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero would have received a gold mine in payment for his services to Chavismo, details of the financing of Podemos by the regime and transactions of Chavismo to the Kirchners. As soon as the arrest warrant was issued, in November 2019, his trail disappeared. His family, his wife Angelica and their minor children lived in the capital of Spain.

I don’t know if everything he knows he can prove. They were illegal operations and there is no documentation left, “says the Venezuelan journalist.

‘El Pollo’ was a very powerful man. He was feared because he handled all counterintelligence operations. He knows everything about drug trafficking and the expansionist project of Chavismo »

ibéyise pacheco, journalist and writer

«The chicken he was a very powerful man. He was feared because he handled all of Chavismo’s counterintelligence operations. He knows everything about drug trafficking and the expansionist project of Chavismo. Also on the Chavista leaders whom Chávez commissioned him to investigate, “says Ibéyise Pacheco, author of The sinister brothers.

However, the Venezuelan journalist and writer recognizes that now Saab is more dangerous for Maduro. «They fear Saab more than the Chicken. The information is more complex and more current and reaches more to the presidential family. It was close to Maduro and Cilia Flores. With The chicken more past secrets will be known.

The unknown is, in Pacheco’s opinion, if Venezuela’s allies, that is, China, Russia or Iran, will see him as an unreliable partner for letting a person like Saab handle so much information.

Pacheco is clear that “the two will end up talking. They can get something and if not, what can they lose. The other alternative is to pay jail but if they can reduce the sentence they will do it ».

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