Get this, on August 4th a Venezuelan-American, Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson, flies from Venezuela to Argentina in a private jet. On that same chartered Cessna are 7 other passengers, including one Claudio Uberti, who just so happens to be a senior Argentine government official. When they arrive in Buenos Aires, customs officials find a bag full 'o money, (about 800,000 U.S. dollars worth, no less) belonging to Antonini! The money is duly confiscated and Antonini, luckily, is allowed to fly back to South Florida, where he resides.
So, why was Antonini in possession of such a large sum of cold, hard U.S. cash? Drug money? Nope. How about attempting to influence an upcoming presidential election in Argentina! A donation courtesy of the Chavez government to the campaign coffers of Argentine candidate Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who happened to win the election on October 28, 2007. In other words, a gift from one lefty to another.
What transpires, thereafter, is straight out of some John Le Carré spy novel:
Soon after the seizure of monies in Buenos Aires, 4 Venezuelans and 1 Uruguayan national set out to convince Antonini to keep his mouth shut regarding the source (and destination) of said cash. Incidentally, 2 of those- Franklin Duran and Carlos Kauffmann- were friends and business partners of Antonini. The pressure to cover up the potential scandal, including threats to both Antonini and his children, continued up until December 11th. Those threats ended that same evening with the arrest of Duran, 40, Kauffmann, 35, Moises Maionica, 37, and Rodolfo Edgardo Wanseele Paciello, 40. Antonio Jose Canchica Gomez, 37, remains at large. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ), on December 12th they were formally charged with being illegal agents of a foreign government.
Three Venezuelans and an Uruguayan national were arrested last night and appeared in federal court in Miami today on charges of acting and conspiring to act as agents of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela within the United States, without prior notification to the Attorney General of the United States, as required by law, announced Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for Justice Department’s National Security Division, R. Alexander Acosta, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office.
All the information leading up to their arrests was gathered by the feds. Federal prosecutors had taped various conversations between Antonini (who was wired) and Duran and Kauffmann, including one session at a Fort Lauderdale eatery.
The last meeting took place on Dec. 11, 2007, when defendants Maionica, Duran, and another individual met with Antonini to discussOf course, Venezuelan officials are denying any culpability, and claiming this is some nefarious U.S. plot to discredit Venezuela and all the other left-leaning countries in Latin America:
the creation of false documents in furtherance of the cover-up.
Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, speaking live on Dando y Dando, a national television program, accused the U.S. government of engaging in a ``political, psychological and media war against the progressive governments of the hemisphere.''
Madame Fernández de Kirchner concurs. Well sure, who wants to get caught with their pants around their ankles. Kirchner did win by a landslide, but that's not the point. The point is Chavez, once again, was attempting to interfere in the internal affairs of another country.
Interesting Side Notes:
1. Duran and Kauffman are very wealthy Venezuelans who own houses in Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove (exclusive areas of Miami). Duran owns a private jet. Nice socialists.
2. For all of Hugo's complaints about the U.S. dollar, what currency did he use? 800,000.00 greenbacks.
"Soon we will not talk about dollars because the dollar is falling in value and the empire of the dollar is crashing," Chavez said in comments translated into Farsi from Spanish. "Naturally, by the crash of the dollar, America's empire will crash," Chavez said at a joint news conference with Ahmadinejad.
3. Chavez is forever accusing others of interfering with his country: just prior to the recent defeat on constitutional changes , when he noticed public support was waning,
Mr. Chavez raised the possibility last week that the United States could interfere with the election. Officials in Washington repudiated his comments, but Mr. Chavez followed up by threatening to cut off oil shipments to the United States if he saw evidence of any interference.
And yet, he himself is guilty of doing just that: During the Peruvian elections in 2006, Chavez threatened to break ties with Peru if Alan Garcia won. He was backing Ollanta Humala. Garcia won, but not by a huge margin. 52.6% to 47.4% of the votes.
Chavez is the personification of hypocrisy.
USDOJ Press Release
Miami Herald Article
Hat Tip: Citizen Feathers