US warns Turkey against Venezuelan ‘blood gold’

Kurdistan 24 (K24 news)

Laurie Mylroie

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – The US Treasury Department’s Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, Marshall Billingslea, visited Turkey last week. His primary concern was enforcing sanctions on Iran, but while there, he warned Turkish business leaders against trading in Venezuelan “blood gold,” Bloomberg News reported on Friday.

Venezuela has emerged as yet another point of dispute between Washington and Ankara, as the US recognizes National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, as the country’s legitimate president, and Turkey, along with Russia, China, and Iran, back Venezuelan strong man, Nicolas Maduro.

Close ties between Ankara and Caracas are relatively new, dating back to 2017. Maduro first visited Turkey in October of that year, while he was on a tour of foreign countries which included Russia and Belarus.

Following that visit, Bloomberg reported, a “mysterious” Turkish company, Sardes, “sprang into existence.” In January 2018, Sardes imported some $41 million of gold from Venezuela, “the first such transactions between the two countries in records that go back 50 years.”

That figure more than doubled in February, and by November 2018, when US President Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing sanctions on trade in Venezuelan gold, Sardes had imported some $900 million worth of the precious metal.

Virtually nothing is known about what happened to that gold, although Sardes apparently stopped its trading.

Trump’s directive was prompted, in part, by concern that the “Maduro regime and associated persons” were plundering “Venezuela’s wealth for their own corrupt purposes,” as the executive order explains.

At that point, Turkey was the biggest importer of Venezuelan gold, and another Turkish company appeared, almost immediately, to step in to replace Sardes in a maneuver organized by the Turkish government at the highest levels.

(Excerpt) Read more at kurdistan24.net

Yup, Iran/Hezbollah Really Is In Venezuela

Founders Code

By: Denise Simon

Primer:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military is prepared to protect U.S. personnel and diplomatic facilities in Venezuela if needed, the U.S. admiral in charge of American forces in South America said on Thursday.

“We are prepared to protect U.S. personnel and diplomatic facilities if necessary,” Navy Admiral Craig Faller, the head of U.S. Southern Command, said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

He did not provide any details on how the U.S. military might respond.

Elliott Abrams, Washington’s special envoy on Venezuela, said the aid effort was being coordinated with Guaido’s team but that the aid would not be forced into Venezuela.

“Let it in, that’s what we’re asking, let it in,” Abrams told reporters at a State Department briefing, calling on members of Venezuela’s armed forces to persuade Maduro to step down or to disobey his orders.

He said the supplies would be delivered to Venezuelans when it was “logistically safe” to do so.

The Latest: Venezuelan man urges military to let in US aid ...

Meanwhile:

Ghazi Nasr Al-Din fundraisers for and with Hezbollah. He also is a player in operational issues which includes a Hizbollah community center and operations office in Venezuela. He speaks Arabic and Spanish. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, he has been on the FBI Most Wanted List for several years.

 

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$840M In Gold Bars Prepared For Loading Onto Russian Jet At Venezuelan Airport: report

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Image via en.protothema.gr

Free Republic

About 20 tons of gold from Venezuela’s central bank was ready to be hauled away Tuesday on a Russian airline’s Boeing 777 that landed in Caracas a day earlier, a Venezuelan lawmaker wrote on Twitter.

(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com

 

While the Media Accuses Trump of Collusion w/Russia, He’s Fighting Russia in Venezuela

Frontpage Mag

 

Obama colluded with Venezuela’s regime, the way that he had with Putin.

Nine years before the Socialist tyranny became a nightmare of mass murder, repression and hunger, he was pressing its tyrant’s flesh.

After several days of the US and Cuba trading warm words that have hinted at a détente after a half century of hostility, Mr Obama said that he was seeking “a new beginning” with Havana.

But it was his unexpected handshake and the smiles he exchanged with Mr Chavez that caught many at the summit by surprise.

Asked what he had said to Mr Chavez, Mr Obama replied with a smile: “I said como estas”.

Hugo Chavez, the socialist president of Venezuela, told state television: “I hope this doesn’t harm Obama, but if I was from the United States, I’d vote for Obama.”

Chavez, who like Obama is seeking re-election, also called the American president “a good guy,” reports Reuters.

“I think that if Obama was from Barlovento or some Caracas neighborhood, he’d vote for Chavez,” said the Venezuela leader.

It’s quite a contrast to how Chavez described Obama predecessor George W. Bush — as “the devil.”

Chavez predicted both he and Obama would win re-election, possibly leading to better American-Venezuelan relations. He said both he and Obama were battling the “extreme right” in their election battles.

“Obama’s atrocious statement on Chavez’s death” was a Washington Post headline in 2013.

While Obama had pandered to Russian clients like Cuba, Venezuela and Iran, President Trump stood up to them. And he’s doing it now.

Private military contractors who do secret missions for Russia flew into Venezuela in the past few days to beef up security for President Nicolas Maduro in the face of U.S.-backed opposition protests, according to two people close to them.

Russia, which has backed Maduro’s socialist government to the tune of billions of dollars, this week promised to stand by him after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself president with Washington’s endorsement.

It was the latest international crisis to split the global superpowers, with the United States and Europe backing Guaido, and Russia and China urging non-interference.

Yevgeny Shabayev, leader of a local chapter of a paramilitary group of Cossacks with ties to Russian military contractors, said he had heard the number of Russian contractors in Venezuela may be about 400.

Meanwhile the Democrats are doing everything possible to undermine America’s standing in the world and our foreign policy. Moscow no doubt appreciates the assistance that Pelosi and Schumer are providing it. Much as it appreciated Obama’s assistance.

That weird silence from Democrats over Venezuela’s massive rejection of socialism

American Thinker

By Monica Showalter

All over the world, nations and leaders are throwing expressions of support and praise for Venezuela’s leaders and people, who after many years of oppression and missteps, have come together with a courageous plan to non-violently shake off a detested socialist dictatorship that has left their country in ruins. Television pictures from yesterday’s demonstration covered the story in spades, showing the magnificent human spectacle to U.S. viewers.

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Image via bodylanguagesuccess.com

 

President Trump and Vice President Pence have been right there for them. The Organization of American States and the Inter American Development Bank are loudly supporting them. The European Union is openly encouraging them.

There also are the skunks, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government, an official of which dismissed the millions-strong effort to shake off socialism and finally have food to eat, muggers in jail, a full roll of toilet paper and hospitals with sheets, running water and Band Aids as “an attempted coup.’

Then there are the Democrats, who are curiously, weirdly silent.

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Venezuelans set fire to Hugo Chavez statue: It Has Started

American Thinker

By Monica Showalter

 

Operation Boot Maduro seems to be moving to stage two.

Following this week’s military mutiny, which was squelched, but not before locals ran out and attempted to defend the troops in pitched street battles, now at least sixty  – sixty! – neighborhoods in Caracas have erupted into riots – big riots, with people reported shot dead. Take a look at the series of tweets posted by Caracas Chronicles on its Twitter feed enumerating the names of the neighborhoods now in open revolt.

Here was its last tweet:

Caracas Chronicles @CaracasChron

11:45 PM Right now in Caracas, protests continue in Catia, Santa Cruz, El Amparo y el Cuartel. FAES agents are breaking into buildings and making arbitrary detentions in Pinto Salinas.

And to underscore just what this nightmare was about, late last night angry Venezuelans burned the big statue of their late, unlamented strongman, Hugo Chavez, whose socialism – so praised at the time by Bernie Sanders and the Hollywood left — turned their formerly rich country into a wasteland. Someone needs to let Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know about this vaunted socialism – and where it leads. Watch Chavez go up in flames:

Embedded video

Venepress @venepress

| Derrumban estatua de Hugo Chávez en San Félix

Yesterday, I did a pre-recording of a radio show with the highly recommended Conservative Commandos predicting that Catia and 23 de Enero would blow up (it will air today), and boy, I didn’t know the half of it — those places – and a lot of others – were at the bottom of the dynamite fuse and ready to go.

It’s important also to note that 23 de enero, or, Jan. 23, is an important anniversary in Venezuela – the anniversary of the overthrow of its military dictatorship in 1958. It’s considered an independence day in Venezuela and a whole neighborhood is named after it – one that is right now in open revolt. That is going to supercharge the activity that goes down today, particularly with big demonstrations scheduled.

All eyes remain on whether the soldiers are going to join the angry repressed people, who have no rights whatsoever, not even the right to food or medical care, in that socialist ‘sea of happiness’ as Chavez once called it.

Many think nothing is going to happen, despite that mutiny the other day. But watch this viral video from yesterday showing how soldiers are being treated under their Cuban-led socialist comrade rule. And note this list of incidents from the Associated Press.

That sounds like an open invitation for soldiers to join the revolt.

Naky Soto of Caracas Chronicles observes that Maduro seems to be scared and hiding, and his generals are nowhere to be found:

It’s curious that Nicolás hasn’t come up even in a picture, just as we didn’t see any member of the military high command that’s “willing to die for him.“ There’s been repression but also pot-banging: each tear gas canister multiplies the reasons for this political and social protest. In words of a Cotiza neighbor, who said she’ll protest “today, tomorrow, the next day (…) to kick that bastard out of where he’s holed up, entrenched, fat as a pig and we’re here starving, no way!”.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio issued a warning of what was going to happen next and his report is believable:

Marco Rubio

@marcorubio

Tomorrow in expect Maduro to:
– Cut off internet
– Accuse protestors of violence with fake evidence
– “collectivos” militias to murder & repress
– Hacking social media accounts & websites to spread misinformation
– Arrest of legitimate leaders of National Assembly

He just threw in a rather scary warning to them:

Marco Rubio

@marcorubio

officials in should reconsider the plan they have for tomorrow before it’s too late.

You are about to cross a line & trigger a response that believe me you are not prepared to face.

You still have time to avoid this.

A note of caution: Francisco Toro of Caracas Chronicles writes that maybe this leads to the democracy people want, but warns it also could end badly  – either the regime hangs on and the hellishness continues – or part of the military joins the people rioting in the streets, and part doesn’t, meaning, bloody civil war. He’s right on that, too, and his analysis is worth reading here.

Rubio also tweeted that President Trump is on the case and asked Rubio to cancel a Florida gig last night to meet with him in his office over Venezuela. Obviously, there is a plan, and as Venezuelans fight in the streets for their own freedom, the gears are turning.

 

Image credit: Venepress, via Twitter, screen grab

Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice Defects To America, Suggests President Maduro Is A Dictator

Hotair

John Sexton

 

If you’ve been following this story for the past year or so this won’t come as much of a shock. A Venezuela Supreme Court Justice named Christian Tyrone Zerpa has fled the country with his wife and children. Zerpa gave an interview to a news outlet in Florida and said he had remained silent about the legitimacy of the last presidential election out of concern for his family but says he can no longer continue to help President Maduro rule the country. From NPR:

Zerpa met a reporter in Orlando and told the outlet, “I think the president, Nicolás Maduro, does not deserve a second chance because the election he supposedly won was not a free election, was not a competitive election.”…

Zerpa said he did not speak out against the election results months ago out of concerns for his family’s safety.

Maduro’s Socialist Party “gradually but steadily” co-opted the Supreme Court and “turned it into an appendage of the executive branch,” according to the International Commission of Jurists.

There have been a number of opposition leaders who have been threatened or even imprisoned based on manufactured crimes, but Zerpa isn’t one of those. On the contrary, he was selected for the court because of his loyalty to the socialist party and had a close relationship with President Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores. From EV TV Miami (translation by Google):

In the past he served as deputy for the governing party, PSUV, and thanks to the protection of First Combatant Cilia Flores became one of the so-called “express magistrates” with the commitment to maintain loyalty to the regime.

“They chose me because I was one of the loyal, disciplined members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela,” the now fugitive from justice told Carla Angola in the interview.

Zerpa revealed that it is Cilia Flores herself, who directs and controls the magistrates, for which she assured that there is no autonomy of powers. He even acknowledged that many of the decisions of the illegitimate TSJ are taken after a “call to Miraflores”.

Miraflores is the Venezuelan presidential palace, i.e. the equivalent of the White House. So what Zerpa is saying is that the country’s Supreme Court is now taking dictation from the First Lady. Venezuela has responded to this defection exactly as you’d expect, by accusing Zerpa of having fled to avoid charges of sexual harassment:

The president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Magistrate Maikel Moreno, pointed out that ex-Judge Christian Tyrone Zerpa was investigated on November 23, 2018, the date on which his file was sent to the Republican Moral Council, as a result of the repeated denunciations officials of his office had filed against him, for unseemly and immoral conduct to the detriment of a group of women who were working in his office, many of whom presented their resignations or had to be relocated to other areas of the institution, before their aberrant conduct, which can only obtain contempt and rejection of society.

Is any of this true? Who knows. What is certain is that the Maduro dictatorship has to come up with some excuse to discredit Zerpa and anything he says about how the government is currently being run.

But it turns out that Magistrate Maikel Moreno, who has been President Maduro’s main enforcer on the court, has a checkered past himself. Last year, Reuters did a lengthy investigation which found he had been arrested for homicide but never charged:

The 51-year-old bodyguard-turned-judge and his court have overruled virtually every major law passed by the opposition-led assembly.

Moreno’s past, however, remains unknown even to most Venezuelans. To trace his ascent, Reuters examined documents and interviewed associates, colleagues and friends of the chief justice in five countries.

The picture that emerges is of a jurist who, by leveraging personal connections and handling politically sensitive cases that other lawyers and judges rejected, endeared himself to Maduro and fellow members of the late Hugo Chavez’s “Bolivarian Revolution.”

In his rise to Venezuela’s top judicial perch, Moreno left behind a past that includes allegations he participated in extortion and influence-peddling rackets and his arrest in 1989 on suspicions of killing a teenager, according to government documents and people familiar with his history.

Reuters found no evidence Moreno was ever tried or convicted of any criminal charges.

Socialism always turns out to be a group of crooks clinging to power while everyone else starves.