Thursday October 24, 2019
American taxpayers are now paying the salaries and expenses of dozens of Venezuelan opposition figures who have created a “shadow government” inside Venezuela and abroad. On October 8, USAID signed a bilateral agreement with the faction of the Venezuelan opposition led by National Assembly president Juan Guaidó (whom the Trump administration recognizes as the “interim president” of Venezuela) that includes $98 million in assistance for Venezuelans. A memo obtained by the L.A. Times reveals that USAID is diverting $41.9 million from aid for Central America and instead sending it “to Guaidó and his faction… to pay for their salaries, airfare, ‘good governance’ training, propaganda, technical assistance for holding elections and other ‘democracy-building’ projects.”
Elliott Abrams, the White House’s special envoy to Venezuela, said in an interview that the Trump administration wants to “pay for embassies, ambassadors [and] a National Assembly office in Caracas” for Guaidó’s team. At the signing of the USAID agreement, Carlos Vecchio, Mr. Guaidó’s representative in Washington, praised the agency for helping to “enhance our capabilities… in increasing our foreign service,” confirming that funds are going to the Guaidó team. With this public admission of financing, there is now no denying that the coup is orchestrated from Washington and that whatever authority Mr. Guaidó may have is only a function of his serving as a US proxy.
To date, no information has been made public as to whose salaries are being paid and how much they are being paid. What we do know is that the hard-earned dollars of American citizens are lining the pockets of Venezuelan politicians who have demanded an increasingly harder line against the Maduro government. This harder line includes brutal economic sanctions that amount to the collective punishment of ordinary Venezuelans and have led to the death of at least 40,000 people.