The city of San Francisco, in California, is the most expensive in the United States of America and one of the most sophisticated. Birthplace of the hippie movement in the 60's and the current revolution in computers and the Internet, it now can pay a millenarian anachronism, as it is surrounded by a string of Mayan communities. More than 70,000 immigrants from Yucatán -5,000 kilometers (3,106 miles) away- swarm in suburbs like San Rafael or the Mission district. Attracted by what seems to be like a new gold rush, most arrive without knowing a word in English and just a few in Spanish to work as dishwashers and kitchen assistants in restaurants. However, the journey is not only through distance, but through culture, and the clash between ancestral customs and the demands of the post-industrial society, like alcoholism and drug addiction, arises.
Every Venezuelan court must be made up by a judge, a secretary and a bailiff. One of the members of this tripod, as to the court in charge of the case of the Justice First party deputy, is usurping functions since he does not meet the requirements to hold the position. That automatically invalidates that instance. This is the most recent legal irregularity in this case, where not all officials sign their acts, lawyers do not know the file, and the Constitution has been openly violated.
For three months, a reporter of Armando.info followed the lead of a seller exclusively engaged in diverting oncology medicines from state institutions to the black market, where they can be sold at 300 times higher prices. Her motivation was some basic questions: Are they angels or opportunists? How do they organize their networks? Still with unresolved doubts, she finds that it is a trade that has become possible only in the aftermath of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, in the midst of chronic shortages and bureaucratic controls.
The so-called "insurance tsar" opened four offshore companies in a Caribbean island through the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Corporación OFL, which consists of about 20 companies in his name, makes him one of the entrepreneurs in the insurance sector that has grown the most during the chavista government.
When Vice President Delcy Rodríguez turned to a group of Mexican friends and partners to lessen the new electricity emergency in Venezuela, she laid the foundation stone of a shortcut through which Chavismo and its commercial allies have dodged the sanctions imposed by Washington on PDVSA’s exports of crude oil. Since then, with Alex Saab, Joaquín Leal and Alessandro Bazzoni as key figures, the circuit has spread to some thirty countries to trade other Venezuelan commodities. This is part of the revelations of this joint investigative series between the newspaper El País and Armando.info, developed from a leak of thousands of documents.
Leaked documents on Libre Abordo and the rest of the shady network that Joaquín Leal managed from Mexico, with tentacles reaching 30 countries, ―aimed to trade PDVSA crude oil and other raw materials that the Caracas regime needed to place in international markets in spite of the sanctions― show that the businessman claimed to have the approval of the Mexican government and supplies from Segalmex, an official entity. Beyond this smoking gun, there is evidence that Leal had privileged access to the vice foreign minister for Latin America and the Caribbean, Maximiliano Reyes.
The business structure that Alex Saab had registered in Turkey—revealed in 2018 in an article by Armando.info—was merely a false start for his plans to export Venezuelan coal. Almost simultaneously, the Colombian merchant made contact with his Mexican counterpart, Joaquín Leal, to plot a network that would not only market crude oil from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, as part of a maneuver to bypass the sanctions imposed by Washington, but would also take charge of a scheme to export coal from the mines of Zulia, in western Venezuela. The dirty play allowed that thousands of tons, valued in millions of dollars, ended up in ports in Mexico and Central America.
As part of their business network based in Mexico, with one foot in Dubai, the two traders devised a way to replace the operation of the large international credit card franchises if they were to abandon the Venezuelan market because of Washington’s sanctions. The developed electronic payment system, “Paquete Alcance,” aimed to get hundreds of millions of dollars in remittances sent by expatriates and use them to finance purchases at CLAP stores.
Scions of different lineages of tycoons in Venezuela, Francisco D’Agostino and Eduardo Cisneros are non-blood relatives. They were also partners for a short time in Elemento Oil & Gas Ltd, a Malta-based company, over which the young Cisneros eventually took full ownership. Elemento was a protagonist in the secret network of Venezuelan crude oil marketing that Joaquín Leal activated from Mexico. However, when it came to imposing sanctions, Washington penalized D’Agostino only… Why?
Through a company registered in Mexico – Consorcio Panamericano de Exportación – with no known trajectory or experience, Joaquín Leal made a daring proposal to the Venezuelan Guyana Corporation to “reactivate” the aluminum industry, paralyzed after March 2019 blackout. The business proposed to pay the power supply of state-owned companies in exchange for payment-in-kind with the metal.