Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Urgent murine update: Aponte Aponte flies to the US in a DEA plane

Yes, that is right, reported by BBC mundo itself: former "justice" Aponte Aponte who escaped Venezuela to Costa Rica has taken a flight to the US in a DEA plane.  Many questions are thus put forward:

1. Did he join a kind of witness protection program in the US?  Clearly, the US of A does not offer such courtesies unless you are willing to cooperate in the war against drugs AND have something substantial to offer.  Pissing off Chavez is not enough (though it sure is an incentive).

2. If Aponte Aponte has goods to offer the reviled gringo, how was he able to take them with him?  We are not talking pen drive here, we are talking actual documents.  He was able to get access to them, to copy them, to certify them, etc...  and to take them out with him at some point.

3. How come a fired "justice" of the Venezuelan TSJ was able to leave the country, with his documents?  The last part of the question is easy: he knew who he was dealing with in Venezuela and thus he must have been taking precautions for a long time.  Neo-totalitarian regimes function on blackmail of all against all.  The first part of this question can only be answered if someone inside the regime helped him out.  Not surprising at all in a rotting regime fighting a succession war.  Aponte Aponte is being used by a faction to shoot down another faction.

4. Who helped Aponte Aponte leave Venezuela, file cabinet included?  That one I have no answer for.  First, there are many factions that can benefit with the fugitive revelations to the DEA/FBI/CIA/whatever. But second, we certainly know which of the factions is the one standing to lose the most from evidence offered to the US.  This faction is the one of the narco generals that have prospered under Chavez, courtesy of his more than lax posture towards drug trafficking.  One of their top members is currently defense minister of Venezuela, and thus close enough to the throne to make a bid for it, were this one to be suddenly vacated.

Conclusion (provisional).  Aponte escaped helped by a group.  It would have been impossible otherwise.  The gravity of the accusations against him which deserved a swift demotion form the high court should have been enough to send him into at least house arrest until the whole case was investigated.  Yet the man found his way out of Venezuela without trouble.  In a military regime this is only possible if part of the armed forces and part of the government collaborate for such an exit, with the necessary evidence to sink someone.

Right now if I were to bet money I would say that the two suspects are the Cabello group who needs to get rid of the narco generals and Cuba who supports them, or a civilian group inside chavismo that is getting tired of the whole thing and that even if not prominent is growing enough and is tied enough with the remains of a semi decent military faction to act.  Such a group does not need to be big and could include a couple of justices, a governor or two and some colonels or generals in charge of a given airport.

Other guesses are welcome and I may add as a footnote the best one :)


  1. Charly2:31 AM

    Daniel, he could simply have walked out of the place unaided by any PSUV faction. The fact that he was fired does not automatically translate into prohibition to leave the country. This is something I found out 2 weeks ago. All immigration computers are connected to the same system as the interpol. This fellow was not been sought as a fugitive so I bet you nobody took the time to flag him in the system. It is that simple.

    1. And who made sure his name did not appear in any list? See my comment below.

  2. I read somewhere that Aponte had traveled earlier to Costa Rica to participate in an audience of the Inter-American Human Rights Court. That could have worked as the perfect cover to smuggle documents and other evidence out of the country. That stash of valuable information was probably his life insurance.

    1. Boludo Tejano3:53 AM

      geha, that sounds like a plausible plan. Jose Luis Llovio-Menendez, in his autobiography, Insider: My Hidden Life As a Revolutionary in Cuba, recounts a similar scheme. In 1979 he was sent to Panama to audit the Cuban Embassy’s finances. He took this opportunity of a trip outside Cuba to mail important papers, such as his diaries and original identity documents, to friends in France. When he and his wife were able to escape from Cuba 2 years later via a Montreal stopover on the return leg of a vacation in the Eastern bloc, they had important documents already waiting for them in the free world.

  3. Island Canuck2:51 AM

    According to Noriega AA has identified Cabello as the capo de capos and is singing to the DEA in Washington as I write this. This would eliminate Cabello as the help he needed to get out of the country.

    Hopefully the documents will become public

  4. Well Daniel, most of people saw this coming, since Makled was captured by Colombian task force and he started singing even better than Justin Bieber. I wonder if the rise of Cabello faction had something to do with Makled demise... Cabello must have some leverage with Chavez.

    Can you imagine the amount of evidence that every major player of the chavista regime have against each other.

    How about if we let those chavista faction to kill each other and we sit and watch the whole chavista ship sinking... in the meantime we collect the evidences to lock them up in jail forever.

    1. Just a nitpicking point for clarity sake.

      You mean we could see the specific AA scene happen or a generic scene along these lines with X? Because if it is the second I agree with you but the first you would have needed a tarot deck. The Makled AA link was known early but became notorious rather late.

      Never mind that it is my gut feeling that there my be more justices to be mentionned any time soon.

      As for the rest of the comment, I think we are already grabbing Titanic debris while we wash it sink..........

  5. If you showed a picture of Hugo with one Ton of cocaine and trying it, they would say it was Photoshopped. Aponte will say whatever he wants, but like Makled, it will have no impact. Think about it, Makled ran the Puerto Cabello docks, distribute acetone for Pequiven and bought Aeropostal. Do you see a patter there.

  6. Ok, Ok, I am going to refine my hypothesis.

    True, it is not that difficult to flee the country, at least in the early stages of such an affair. What I meant was that there were unaccountable delays into taking measures so as to make such an escape difficult. Thus the support he got in delaying injuctions and the like.

    Also there was the masquerade that he was going to go the Assembly defend himself. He did not do it and instead disappeared. There was thus some help in making beleive that AA was going to play the game while some yatch or plane was discretely lined up somewhere.

    In other words if indeed AA has damning evidence it is inconceivable that he was not under high surveillance from the start. Unless of course he was working all along with Makled to take out that info of Makled and was thus playing dumb and fooling the narcos and Diosdado.

    Any better ideas?

    1. We have to see the bigger picture here, the same person who gave the order to remove AA, it's the same that could'd let him go, thinking that the people would forget about this guy...

      I mean come and think of it, how many people do you know in the high court, or in the national assembly, most people don't know or care about all the politicians running some office. They only knows a few of them, if elected directly.

      So the best course of action that they could have imagined, was to remove this guy from his post, throw the propaganda that the government is dealing harshly with dirty politicians, score some points in the polls, and then let this guy go on his merry way, and moving on with the next political scandal.

      BTW do you recollect some of the media controlled by those chavista wacko, covering this news, perhaps one or two times, the rest of that time they doubled the dirty campaign against Capriles Radonski.

  7. First of all, what kind of evidence can a Supreme Court Justice have on him that involves him and others? It is one thing to have issued credentials to a guy like Makled, which in and of itself is not a good thing, but in the larger scheme of things this is no big deal (from the DEA point of view).

    So it must be that AA was either more involved than we know in the, shall we say Day to Day of Makled's business, or he got his hands on evidence to be used in Makled's trial. Evidence that the DEA wold love to have, especially if they can roll up others involved in the trade.

    What kind of evidence? Obviously he could not take originals, and copies have limited probatory value, except no one is on trial in the US (yet) so it would have to be the information in the evidence, such as bank accounts and business fronts that would be of value to the US DEA.

    Now if he was more involved in Makled's business then he must have built up solid evidence as a backup, and he certainly would know what to have on file. Whether or not he was a military judge first, I think it's reasonable to assume that he knows what evidence to collect that will convince the cops.

    AS to how he got it out, that's relatively easy. You and I do not have access to migratory records but I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that he had relatives traveling often to the US with evidence to be deposited in some safe deposit box in a bank. His work at the IAHRC could also have served to transport documents as well. In other words, you hide your hole cards way early in the game, not in the last 3 rounds, so this could have been going on for months or even years.

    As to how he fled, that is the easiest thing in the world, especially if you have money. From a private plane taking off from a farm to a peñero from Paraguana to Aruba to a yacht from Macuto to crossing into Colombia on foot there are a million ways to do so. Hell, even from Maiquetia itself if you have a fake passport.

    IF you are on the "prohibited from leaving list" in the computer at the airport it does not necessarily follow that Interpol is after you although the reverse is true. IF you are on that list (which up to the 90's was a paper computer printout!) it is pretty hard to be allowed through ( you better have some huge leverage), so I doubt that's how he left, I'm guessing it was one of the methods I mentioned above.

    If it is true that the DEA has him, then we are not going to see much action for a while. They are going to take their time to suck him dry, validate the information and build a case or cases (or add to existing ones). Once they have enough evidence, then you will see action.

  8. Dr. Faustus1:37 PM

    I would agree. Aponte singing his guts out to the boys sitting around a table in McLean (or wherever) will have little impact on the future of Venezuela. After all, there have been countless books written about the actions/misdeeds of Fidel Castro and the Cubans since 1960, yet the regime still stands. A free election is the only thing that will bring about change in government, not accusations from a former insider trying to clear his sullied reputation.

  9. Interpol no longer takes seriously Venezuela's requests to include people in the most wanted list.

    Juan, I wrote at Miguel's something very, very similar to what you said above watching the rats in the sinking chavista ship.

    It's Reservoir Dogs reloaded!

  10. If AA is taking information about Narco Traffic given by Makled to the US it would mean a failure of Chavez's original attempt to avoid that by bringing Makled to Venezuela.We see here an in ability of Chavez's government to hide its dirty laundry.The US would be benefiting from the infighting of Chavistas that resulted in Apontes' escape.


  11. Anonymous6:38 PM

    Has anyone considered that Aponte maybe a counterintelligence courier with bags of washed,edited information to distract and confuse the US Intel away from Chavez. And,
    US already has information on Makled and maybe
    much more than we know directly linking Chavez.
    Aponte is like a dirty bomb to protect Chavez.

    1. I think it is too far fetched. The DEA is not that stupid and I am sure they can detect a dirt bomb fast enough, the more so with the jerks that rule over us.

  12. Anonymous6:54 PM

    Roberto N said "Once they have enough evidence,
    then you will see action."
    Don't hold your breath, pal. US has said and done practically nothing for a very long time now and everybody knows the US has to have evidence of lots of things Chavez and his minions have done and are doing and who they are
    doing it with...

  13. As fun as this is to watch, does it really matter? The fact that drug trafficking is endemic in Venezuela and that it is controlled by high officials in the Venezuelan government and military is common knowledge already. The only possible result is some more Venezuelans added to the PNG lists. Within Venezuela, the government will call it all pack of CIA lies. The people who oppose the government will believe Aponte Aponte's assertions and the people who support the regime will believe the government. No one's current opinion is going to swayed by this distraction.

    The real story is the power struggle going on within Chavismo. Daniel is making wild-ass speculations about how this might connect to the Chavista inter-mural, but that is all they are: speculations. What we need to see is some higher placed-officials abandoning ship and singing in public about what is really happening.

    1. well, I have invited people to make their own speculations and publish them if they are clever. Not Cliver, clever.

  14. To Anonymous Apr 18, 2012 09:54 AM

    Well, the US was ready to extradite Makled and was willing to try him in a Manhattan courtroom, so....

    The action I am talking about has nothing to do with ending Chavez' rule. It does have to do with bringing folks to trial on money laundering/drug trafficking.

    If you, pal, are the kind of person waiting for the US to do something about Chavez et alia, you are not only wasting your time, but you should be ashamed of yourself, double if you are Venezuelan. To expect Uncle Sam to be the policeman of the world is silly policy and does the US no good at all.

  15. Island Canuck11:47 PM

    To anyone interested GloboVision will broadcast an interview with AA at 8.30 PM Chavista time tonight.

    Could be very interesting.

    1. Island Canuck12:13 AM

      Here's a link with an English version of the interview by Foreign Policy:

      Choice quotes:
      "Mr. Aponte confessed that he received direct orders from President Hugo Chávez to use his legal power against individuals that opposed the regime. As president of the criminal tribunal of the Supreme Court, Aponte had supervision of all criminal courts in the country and practically on all judges, with a capacity to influence almost any judicial decision."

      "Moreover, in his testimony Mr. Aponte says he also received calls from Gen. Henry Rangel Silva, Venezuela's Defense Minister and Hugo Carvajal, who until recently was the head of military intelligence, among others, ordering him to "manipulate judicial proceedings."

  16. "the US of A does not offer such courtesies unless you are willing to cooperate in the war against drugs AND have something substantial to offer"

    Au contraire! The U.S. sometimes offers personal flights to individuals who have no intention of cooperating and nothing but themselves to offer - and also provides those individuals with a free loan of jewelry (matching silver bracelets). ;)

    To the anonymous of 9:38/9:54, and anyone else waiting for the U.S. to attempt to "arrest" numerous Chavistas, be aware that the U.S. seeks extradition for crimes such as drug trafficking and money laundering (Guatemalan president Portillo is a nice high-profile example there) because those crimes have a U.S. nexus, meaning they are crimes that are committed in some way in the U.S. itself. If Venezuelans steal Venezuelan money and hide it in Venezuelan banks, the U.S. will not initiate any court action whatsoever.

  17. This is a little off the thread here, but I don't know where else to post this. Has any one been to Maiquetia lately and seen the new photographic kiosk display in the salon de recepcion in the International part of Maiquetia. The first things international visitors see are photos of police with machine guns, and shooting tear gas. The there are giant words that say fear, anguish, intimidation, fight, censur, among others.

  18. The US (Read Obama)will do nothing that might spike gas prices costing him the elections

  19. Anonymous3:04 AM

    Roberto N- There is a long list of things that US could at least mention(-and could have been mentioned at Cartagena meeting).Weapons, drugs, human trafficking, money laundering with Iran..
    all have a direct impact with US.
    And for example if Cabello visited Colombia- would he be arrested and sent to the US?
    (Did Cabello visit Cuba recently?)I thought this was a reason that the ALBA countries did not show their faces-because they are all guilty of these crimes against the US...
    So, not only does the US ignore all of this- the ALBA countries have the audacity to demand the US bow down and kiss Fidel's arse, too...
    Anyway, back to money laundering-is US seeking anyone from Venezuela for laundering money for Iran?

  20. Anonymous3:17 AM

    "Here in the Americas," he said, "we take Iranian activities, including in Venezuela, very seriously and we will continue to monitor them closely." words from President Obama last year(2011). What about money laundering for Iran- still monitoring?


    Financial Times link to this story from Thursday


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