Venezuela’s former spy chief says Maduro could yet fall

Venezuela’s former intelligence chief, Cristopher Figuera, who fled the country after backing a failed uprising against President Nicolas Maduro in April, has told the Washington Post the regime could still fall.

“I’m proud of what I did,” he said in an interview published online late Monday. “For now, the regime has gotten ahead of us. But that can quickly change.”

The highest-profile defector against the Maduro regime, Figuera was sacked after supporting the April 30 uprising by opposition leader Juan Guaido and spent two months in hiding in Colombia before his arrival in the United States on Monday, according to the Post.

Venezuela is caught in an economic crisis and a political standoff between Maduro and Guaido, who declared himself interim president earlier this year, securing recognition from the US and more than 50 other countries.

Maduro, re-elected last year in elections widely seen as rigged, has so far retained the support of the powerful military.

The former head of security for late president Hugo Chavez, Figuera told the newspaper that members of Maduro’s family and his government were engaged in money laundering and corruption, and alleged that Hezbollah cells were allowed to operate in Venezuela and raise funds.

An Iran-backed Shiite movement, Hezbollah is listed as a “terrorist group” by the United States.

“I quickly realized that Maduro is the head of a criminal enterprise, with his own family involved,” he said, accusing the president’s son, Nicolas Maduro Guerra, of running an illicit scheme involving the sale of gold at high prices to Venezuela’s central bank.

‘Advisor for Maduro’

He also claimed that Cuba exerted a strong influence on Maduro, describing frequent phone calls between former president Raul Castro and the Venezuelan leader.

“Raul Castro was like an adviser for Maduro,” Figuera said. “If he was in any meeting, it would be interrupted if Castro was on the phone.”


The newspaper said it could not independently confirm the allegations, which emerged the same day as an announcement by another high-profile Maduro critic that he was released from house arrest.

Former Venezuelan police officer Ivan Simonovis, who was serving a 30-year sentence for his role in a failed 2002 coup against late president Hugo Chavez, confirmed his whereabouts for the first time since a “pardon” issued by Guaido in his capacity of interim president.

“I’M FREE!” the Caracas police commissioner wrote on Twitter, posting photos of himself in Washington at a monument to South American liberator Simon Bolivar.

“I am on the streets thanks to the efforts of many people, but especially those of active officials who are not at the service of tyranny, they are on the right side: that of Freedom and Democracy for Venezuela.”

The opposition and human rights groups regarded Simonovis as a political prisoner, a claim denied by Maduro’s government.

© Agence France-Presse

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Agency
External source
Advertising

Where is the deputy president?

David Mabuza is hard at work — it’s just not taking place in the public eye. The rumblings and discussion in the ANC are about factions in the ruling party, succession and ousting him

Zuma turns on judiciary as trial nears

Former president says pre-trial correspondence is part of another plot

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday