Spanish – Henrique Capriles Radonski and Stalin González, leaders of the “opposition,” decided to play against the legitimate National Assembly of Venezuela and to negotiate a supposed parliamentary election with the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro. For this purpose, they went to Turkey, the chief enemy, and an accomplice in the plundering of the nation.
It seems that Capriles, Stalin, Maduro, and Turkey have the same goal: to legitimize the actions of the regime, not only in Venezuela but also in the eyes of the world.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Henrique Capriles and Stalin González spoke with Turkish officials to ensure the presence of international observers at the Maduro election fraud, organized for December. According to the official, Maduro agreed.
Capriles and Stalin are now the pawns that the Maduro regime is using to legitimize a fraudulent election without opposition political parties or democratic guarantees. Meanwhile, Turkey is the mediator, a nation that helps the regime evade international sanctions.
It should be noted that Turkey’s announcements come two weeks after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu traveled to Venezuela to meet with Maduro and supposedly fine-tune “the cooperation agenda” between the two nations.
Turkey is not a mediator; it will always play in Maduro’s favor
The Maduro regime is counting on Turkey’s help not only to evade international sanctions but also to maintain at least 20 Chavista embassies around the world.
“The Nicolás Maduro regime is using Turkey to triangulate its illicit business with Iran,” Joseph Humire, international security specialist and executive director of the Center for a Free and Secure Society, told the PanAm Post.
It is a bad sign that the tyranny of Maduro and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan maintain their alliance despite international sanctions, and that leaders like Capriles or Stalin legitimize them. “Nicolás Maduro’s regime is using Turkey to triangulate its illicit business with Iran,” said Humire.
Since Turkey has legitimacy in the eyes of the world, Venezuela uses that legitimacy under the guise of humanitarian assistance, but we do not know the origin of the supplies being handled. There may be a clandestine channel to use Turkey’s legitimacy and humanitarian assistance as an excuse to mobilize arms, technology, or other prohibited items.
Venezuela and Turkey strengthened their ties at the end of 2018 when Erdogan visited the Caribbean country and offered political and economic support to Maduro. Since then, there were business deals, such as the “gold for food” exchange in which Alex Saab, Maduro’s frontman who is detained in Cape Verde, awaiting extradition to the United States, participated.
Erdogan’s government also maintains alliances with the Iranian regime at the tactical level, which implies a triangulation between Venezuela, Turkey, and Iran to commit illicit businesses. “Just as Turkey is helping Iran evade sanctions, it would be facilitating the same for the Maduro regime. Turkey is not isolated; it can do trade, there are very few sanctions against it, and that gives it the ability to triangulate,” Humire said.
According to Humire, just as Turkey uses Venezuela for natural resources such as gold, Maduro uses Turkey to violate sanctions and triangulate its illicit business with Turkey and Iran.
Military support and funding for embassies
In June, it was revealed that Maduro was reportedly using Turkey and Iran to rescue military equipment in “intensive care.” An Infobae story by journalist Sebastiana Barráez revealed that the Venezuelan Armed Forces are relying on Turkey and Iranian technicians to try to recover military aircraft.
But military support is not the only thing Turkey offers the Venezuelan regime. Thanks to Erdogan, Maduro sends money in the form of contraband that serves to pay diplomatic personnel and finance Chavista political activities in the world.
“Nicolás Maduro sends the money for these activities from Venezuela in private planes loaded with suitcases full of dollars, and sometimes with gold ingots in the guise of a diplomatic briefcase. This money does not pass any previous control in Caracas, neither the opposition National Assembly nor the Constituent Assembly is aware of this process,” according to the Spanish publication ABC.
But Turkey’s help is not free. While that country allows Maduro to finance his regime, the regime has granted it gold deposits in Venezuelan territory. “The gold route between Caracas and Istanbul is sometimes covered by the private plane of vice president Delcy Rodríguez. That was the same route that Maduro’s second-in-command took in the early morning hours of Monday, January 20, before landing at Barajas and holding the irregular meeting with transport minister José Luis Ábalos. During that trip, the Venezuelan government took advantage of the situation to unload 40 suitcases on European soil, which would be destined to pay the Spanish collaborators,” the report states.
Stolen gold for Turkey
Following improved relations between Turkey and Venezuela, the Maduro regime moved gold refining from Switzerland to Turkey to avoid the risk of seizing Venezuelan assets following possible U.S. sanctions. Consequently, Venezuela exported 23.62 tons of gold worth 900 million USD to Turkey in the first nine months of 2018. However, this is not found in official Turkish records.
Maduro invited Turkey to invest in the operation of a vast mining reserve known as the Arch of the Orinoco that contains deposits of gold, dynamite, and coal, among other minerals. The tyrant’s action further mortgages Venezuelan wealth.
On November 8, 2019, it was revealed that through the airlines Solar Cargo C.A and Turkish Airlines, Maduro manages to transport gold and receive millions of euros to finance the Chavista regime. “Maduro not only plunders and murders the indigenous ethnic groups, but he is also guilty of the greatest ecocide, contaminating the main river sources with high mercury content,” said Congressman Carlos Paparoni, adding that the Mining Arc is exploited by “Brazilian mining mafias and terrorist groups such as the ELN and the FARC.
In November 2018, the United States announced new sanctions against the Maduro regime following the illegal gold exports with which it has enriched itself and kept in power. John Bolton, the former U.S. National Security Advisor, explained that “the United States has identified a first sector, gold, which the Venezuelan government has used to carry out illicit transactions. With this looting, they are not only stealing patrimony from their own people, but it is also something that has had serious environmental consequences, such as mercury in the rivers.”
Maduro’s frontman is a key player between Venezuela and Turkey
Alex Nain Saab is a Colombian businessman, who, according to international investigations, is Maduro’s frontman and allegedly a key player in the criminal activities between the Venezuelan and Turkish regimes.
The gold-for-food system is a multinational, many-company scheme intended to obscure the flow of money and goods, according to investigators.
“The gold is shipped to Turkey and converted into cash, which pays for food. Some food is shipped from Turkey, according to people involved in arranging shipments, but much of it is sourced in Mexico. Before it is sent to Venezuela, its value is inflated, allowing those involved in the scheme to skim money from the transactions,” Paparoni told Bloomberg.