Venezuela: Juan Guaidó Announces Probe into Allies’ Corruption Allegations

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido speaks during a press conference at the Chacao Theater in Caracas on September 19, 2019. - Venezuela's socialist government on Wednesday called on the United States to restore diplomatic ties with Caracas after it opened talks with fringe opposition parties. The …

Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó announced an investigation Tuesday into claims of corruption in his ranks, an unfortunate blow to his image given he has yet to actually wield political power.

Guaidó became president in January after the National Assembly used its constitutional powers to rule that dictator Nicolás Maduro had not won re-election legitimately. Maduro has refused to give up the presidential palace, however, and the military has refused to take orders from its rightful commander-in-chief, leaving Guaidó powerless. Despite this, his team has managed to wade into allegations of ties to corrupt individuals.

Guaidó launched a committee this week to investigate claims that nine of his fellow opposition lawmakers had been lobbying for an individual linked to Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman sanctioned by the U.S. with close ties to the Maduro regime. It is planning to present its results in two weeks’ time.

The alleged lobbying was reported on over the weekend in an investigation by the Venezuelan news site Armando.Info. Responding to the claims on Tuesday, Guaidó pledged to eradicate any existing corruption around him.

“We have ratified the measures to fight corruption and we are going to investigate any activity that has threatened the sacred interests of Venezuelans,” he wrote. “We have risen immediately, as a sign that we do not tolerate any act of this nature.”

He later made sure to remind his followers of the mass corruption and theft of public and private assets by the country’s Chavista regime.

“In a radical difference with 20 years of corruption scandals of the dictatorship and 400 billion dollars in property damage to the Venezuelan state, which never debated, discussed or found out, today we open a serious and transparent investigation for the country,” he later followed up.

“The political reality we have had in Venezuela for the last 10 months has finished,” Caracas-based political analyst Dimitris Pantoulas told Reuters. “It’s the end of this era of harmony and unity.”

According to a recent survey by Caracas pollster Datanalisis, Guaido’s nationwide approval rating has fallen to 42 percent, having been as high as 60 percent soon after he was appointed interim president in February.

United Socialist Party of Venezuela leader Diosdado Cabello, himself a U.S. designated drug trafficker, celebrated Guaido’s woes in a press conference on Monday.

“This comes as no surprise, that they’re accusing each other of corruption,” he said. “Never before has the political opposition been in a worse state than today.”

It is not the first time that Guaidó has fielded corruption charges. In June, the Latin American news outlet Pan-American Post reported that two of Guaidó’s senior government officials, Rossana Barrera and Kevin Rojas, had allegedly used funds reserved to cover the cost of the troops’ hotels in the Colombian border city of Cúcuta for personal purchases.

“We will investigate this deeply,” he said at the time. “Every cent of public funds should be sacred, and that is something we have to learn as a society.”

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