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From coup leaders to con artists: Juan Guaidó’s gang exposed for massive humanitarian aid fraud

An explosive new report reveals how Guaidó representatives in Colombia embezzled $125,000 meant for humanitarian aid, suckering deserting soldiers and blowing the aid money on luxury goods.

by Dan Cohen 

Part 4 - ‘Transparency above all!’

According to Avendaño’s report, the two Popular Will figures appointed to oversee the funds and payment for the lodging of the deserters – Barrera and Rojas – spent 3,000,000 pesos ($915 USD) each night on hotels and nightclubs.

About a thousand dollars in drinks and meals. Clothing expenses in very expensive stores in Bogotá and in Cúcuta. Vehicle rental reports and hotel payments at surcharge. Silver flowing. A lot of money,” the journalist wrote.

Barrera told the Popular Will leadership in Caracas that the funds were being dispersed among seven hotels that were providing housing for deserters and their families, but only two hotels had actually been paid.

What’s more, Guaidó’s representatives had falsely claimed there were more than 1,450 Venezuelan soldiers in Colombia. According to Avendaño, Colombian intelligence counted only 700. It turned out that Barrera and Rojas had inflated the number in order to embezzle more funds for their luxury spree.

In mid-May, Barrera and Rojas attempted to defraud even more money through a phony charity dinner in a luxurious Bogotá restaurant, falsely claiming the event had been convened to raise money for deserters and their families. Using a fake email account for Guaidó’s “ambassador” in Colombia, Humberto Calderón Berti, the two Popular Will activists invited representatives from foreign embassies, including those of the U.S. and Israel. The dinner was cancelled after Berti’s representatives informed embassies that they were not sponsoring the dinner.

By then, the reckless behavior of Guaidó’s appointees was known throughout the entire Colombian government. Soon after Barrera and Rojas were quietly removed from their positions.

Shortly after Avendaño’s article was published, it became clear to Guaidó that he could no longer shield the con artists he placed in charge of the aid operation. After ordering Berti to ask Colombian authorities for their investigation, he took to Twitter to declare, “Transparency above all!”

Minutes later, Berti announced he would get to the bottom of the case. The coup ambassador tweeted that the investigation was in its final phase, provoking many observers to point out that he and Guaidó had known about the fraud for months and covered it up. Shockingly, Berti confirmed the cover-up, responding that he had personally ordered the investigation two months ago after receiving information from Colombian intelligence.

At a June 17th press conference, Guaidó claimed that he immediately requested an investigation when Berti informed him of the fraud schemes. But according to Avendaño, Guaidó “showed a stubborn defense of both” of his disgraced party lieutenants, using blustery threats to shift blame onto his “embassy” in Colombia. Avendaño attempted to contact Guaidó and his press officer, but received no response.

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