Spanish – An Iranian millionaire who has traded arms with Iran, and who was also a representative of Robert Mugabe, dictator of Zimbabwe, is in charge of “selling” Venezuelan Henri Falcon as the best presidential option in the South American country.
Ari Ben-Menashe is a man with an interesting resume. He has collaborated with the Israeli intelligence services and advised the military junta governing Sudan. His latest project is promoting the controversial Falcon is the United States as an alternative to supposedly resolve the crisis in Venezuela.
A BBC World report reveals that the Iranian figure is the director of the Canadian firm Dickens & Madson, which is dedicated to political lobbying in the North American country.
La "Operación Falcón" sigue activa y tiene mucho dinero. Cc: @jose_valentin1 https://t.co/43HgeLk3aS
— David Arévalo (@LeibnizDArevalo) July 30, 2019
Ben-Menashe has been described as a “con man.” His name came up when, in 2012, Wikileaks published leaked emails from U.S. intelligence company Stratfor. In one of the emails, an Israeli journalist warned the firm’s head of security that Ben-Menashe was a “swindler” and advised him to stay “away from Ben-Menashe.”
In 1989, Ben-Menashe was arrested in the United States after being accused of trying to sell three transport planes to the Iranians. In 2002, he was involved in a murky episode in the middle of an electoral campaign in Zimbabwe, where he played a leading role as he was responsible for arresting an opposition candidate who had a significant chance of winning the elections.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was accused of attempting to assassinate Robert Mugabe and tried for treason shortly before the elections. The evidence used against him was the recording of a meeting with Ben-Menashe in which they talked about “eliminating” Mugabe. Subsequently, Tsvangirai claimed to have been the victim of a setup, which was confirmed by the courts. He was finally acquitted.
Ben-Menashe and Henri Falcon
Falcon, a former governor in Venezuela, former Chavista, and former presidential candidate, hired the Iranian’s firm to advise him in the fraudulent elections of May 2018 and to convince governments like the United States, Russia, and others that he is supposedly the “key” to breaking the political deadlock in the South American country.
According to the U.S. news portal, POLITICO, the firm secured a 200,000 USD contract to lobby on Falcon’s behalf.
“The firm is preparing to lobby the executive and/or legislative branches of the U.S. government and its agencies in support of the efforts of the Progressive Advance political party to elect Henri Falcon as president of Venezuela,” states a document presented to the U.S. Department of Justice, which also specifies the value of the contract.
Ben-Menashe said he planned to “pressure” the White House to back Falcon, whom he described as a “compromise candidate.” He further stated that the only ones capable of making Maduro leave power are “the military and the Russians.”
Falcon told BBC World that the only thing his party had done was to “legally hire professional services and representation abroad, just like many other Venezuelan political groups do.” However, he did not explain the source of the $200,000 used to pay for Ben-Menashe’s services.
The former presidential candidate decided to participate in the past fraudulent elections, where Maduro won although many people abstained from voting and the fact that more than 50 countries do not recognize Maduro as president.
The candidate, who considers himself an “opposition,” decided to play the dictatorship’s game and take part in elections without guarantees to legitimize the process. In fact, he has been described as an “instrument of Maduro.”
“We all knew. I sat in Washington and knew it. The political actors in Venezuela also had to know; that Henri Falcon was the main instrument that the Bolivarian regime was going to have to start dividing the MUD,” OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said in 2018.
Renowned journalist Andres Oppenheimer referred to Falcon as “Venezuela’s greatest traitor” after participating in the electoral fraud.
Falcon, who was a Chavista, presents himself as a third option, which was implicit in his campaign slogan: “If we vote, we win,” despite any guarantees from the Chavista National Electoral Council (CNE), which is under the control of the dictatorship.
A few days ago, in Caracas, he presented his “oil for food” program, through which Venezuela would supposedly receive the humanitarian aid it needs in exchange for crude oil. However, the South American country is no longer a major oil producer since its oil refineries are in precarious conditions due to neglect, thus making his proposal unworkable.