Reuters came up with another "exclusive" today: "Exclusive: Giuliani told U.S. his client deserves leniency for financing Venezuela's opposition - Parnas" It's about that -now infamous- meeting, in Alejandro Betancourt's El Alamin castle near Madrid, where President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani met with the Derwick thugs and Wilmer Guaido in early August 2019. Giuliani's associate, Lev Parnas, was seemingly the orchestrator. But there's so much more going on here. And it does not look good for America's greatest hope: Juan Guaido.
Parnas phone and Whatsapp records have been published as part of Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald J. Trump by the U.S. Congress. Parnas' exchanges with his associates and contacts are now in the public domain. It makes for great reading. Regarding the setting up of meeting between Giuliani and Betancourt, it seems to have been a case of "let my people call your people". Among Giuliani's people there's Jon Sale, who is acting as one Betancourt's army of lawyers, and is likely responsible for bringing Giuliani to obstruct the course of Department of Justice's criminal probes into multi billion dollar ($5.7Bn) money laundering involving Betancourt.
There's Lev Parnas, of course, who has been a Giuliani's sidekick for a while in all manner of dodgy business in Ukraine, which is what caused Donald Trump's impeachment process in the first place.
On Betancourt's side there's Lilia Lopez, his mum. A measure of the kind of "entrepreneur" this Betancourt thug is, is the fact that Parnas was liasing with Lopez for all organizational aspects of the meeting in El Alamin. What does that say about Venezuela's version of Steve Jobs, as Betancourt likes to fancy? It were not his lawyers, PAs, or business partners the ones tasked to arrange facetime with Giuliani, no. His most trusted consigliere seems to be his mum.
Juan Guaido's father, Wilmer, was also present in the meeting with Parnas and Giuliani. Unlike whatever Reuters would like to claim, this is neither news, nor surprising. Guaido's immediate relatives have been hanging with Betancourt since day 1 of his "interim" presidency. Gustavo Guaido is a regular visitor to Betancourt's hunting retreat near Madrid. The Guaidos presence in meeting with Giuliani had one purpose: to show that Betancourt is part of Guaido's inner circle.
It is the world's worst kept secret that Betancourt is a source of funding for Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez. There are even reports, unconfirmed, that Guaido's people informed Betancourt about their intentions to meet PDVSA 2020 bond payments, which was, of course, properly monetised by Betancourt. It remains unclear what percentage of realised profits ended up in Guaido's coffers, but what is absolutely incontrovertible is that Guaido counts Betancourt as part of the "solution for Venezuela". Amnesty has been offered, in fact Betancourt was already on his way back to Venezuela last 30 April, probably convinced the "regime change" charade organised by Lopez, Guaido, Omaña, Gorrin, Moreno, et al was going to work. Notice that Francisco Convit, Betancourt's partner and a DoJ wanted fugitive, lives in Caracas and has no problems, either with chavista justice or the "opposition" led by Guaido, which is yet to assist DoJ in capturing him and other wanted thugs, like Gorrin.
Pronto en https://t.co/9rJPmjRrPj: asociado de @RudyGiuliani (Lev Parnas) en el castillo del bolichico @BetancAlejandro Lilia Lopez involucrada... Dirección El Alamín via @what3words Cc @TheJusticeDept pic.twitter.com/GrEkEeswty
— Alek Boyd (@infodi0) 17 January 2020
Another visitor of Betancourt was Erik Prince, who pitched his "quick solution" scheme last February so Betancourt could pass it along to Guaido. Around that time, Betancourt's partying with Gustavo Guaido became known. Sources reported that from Madrid, Prince was due to meet Rafael Ramirez, in Rome. This is, of course, months before Prince sat with Delcy Rodriguez in late 2019 in Caracas.
American media was slow in reporting details about Giuliani's meeting and subsequent lobbying AG William Barr. But Spanish media, newspaper La Razón to be more specific, was embedded at El Alamin when Giuliani came to stay. An "interview" with Giuliani was published by La Razón on 3 August. Asked where had that interview taken place, the interviewing journalist corroborated to this site two crucial elements: 1) visit of Giuliani had been known prior to his arrival, 2) the interview took place in El Alamin. This is months before American media had any knowledge of this affair. Interviewing journalist, Esther Sieteiglesias, did not consider newsworthy to ask Giuliani why was he visiting Spain, why was he staying with Betancourt, what was his relation to Betancourt, why were Parnas, Boris Ivanov, Pedro Trebbau, Lilia Lopez and Wilmer Guaido around... The "interview" is a proper exhibit of what passes for an advertorial today.
But more interesting names appear in Parnas' document production. Brian Ballard, for instance, appears in a to-do list among lobbyists that should be hired. Robert Stryk, of Sonoran Policy Group, is also a potential lobbyst to be hired. All of that is related to Parnas's & Giuliani's efforts to get Ukraine's President Zelensky to announce an investigation into Joe Biden. Ballard was until not long ago, a lobbyist retained by Betancourt. And by Raul Gorrin, one of the main orchestrators of Guaido / Lopez 30 April "solution".
And Robert Stryk, until know seemingly disconnected to Venezuelan affairs, pops up as Greylock Capital lobbyst, tasked to "facilitate meetings and interactions for the Client with personnel from the Executive Branch of the United States and from Congress to assist with the collection of monies owed to U.S. Bondholders by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela." [bold added] Stryk became Greylock's man in early December 2019.
Harry Sargeant also communicated with Parnas. Some of the Whatsapp messages show that Parnas relied on Sargeant, for travel and expenses. Readers will recall that Sargeant's, who's been involved in / with Venezuela for a long time, managed to get a deal from PDVSA / Manuel Quevedo that's waiting an OFAC's license.
Energy seems to be the key reason behind all of this. For Parnas's adventures in Ukraine did not start with trying to get Zelensky to smear Biden with a criminal probe. Parnas is said to be an employee of Dmitry Firtash. Firtash brings the necessary context. His connections to Putin, and the way in which Gazprom gave him below-market-price gas to prop up Russia's puppet in the Ukraine, brings us right back into Putin's orbit. For who else has Gazprom's partners, and Russia's FSB, in his "oil operations"? You guessed it: Alejandro Betancourt.
It would be stupid to think that Ivanov, or Betancourt, did not report back to the motherland addition of Giuliani as a very useful tool that has Trump's ear. This is why this site maintains that it isn't Pompeo the one privy to great actionable intel here, but Lavrov. Guaido, and his cohorts / funders, aren't reliable partners but a bunch so desperate to wrestle control from chavismo that they'd get in bed with the likes of Betancourt and Gorrin. They certainly can't be trusted with the solution to Venezuela's deep and growing crisis.
Parnas has been a person of interest for Spanish police, intelligence and prosecutors since 2016, when he met in Barcelona with Armenians / Ukrainians connected to Stepan Chernovetsky, son of Kiev's Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky.
The comical thing about this cabal of "Let's Make America Great" folk is that, ultimately, they are working for Putin. Their networks, businesses, intel, connections, reach, access, is being ruthlessly exploited by the Russian Emperor to advance his disruptive agenda. It's a strategy we Venezuelans know well, one that has helped chavismo remain in power: allow for corruption to flourish for money is the greatest drive there is.
To avoid reiteration, there's a very good article by Franklin Foer at The Atlantic that describes -in almost identical detail- what Giuliani is trying to do for Betancourt with AG Barr: just replace Firtash with Betancourt and Ukraine with Venezuela. Juan Guaido, the great white hope, is just a pawn, a link in an endless chain of corruption. There can be no hope for Venezuela, when the actual chavista structure can only be replaced by another equally corrupt one. The only viable solution here is one where regular Venezuelans will have no say: Ukraine for Russia, Venezuela for the U.S. Neither Guaido, nor his boss Leopoldo Mandela, will have a say, they'll get their marching orders through FSB's controlled Betancourt's channel, and Pompeo.
Talk of privatisation is what's firmly on the agenda. Out of that, Betancourt will emerge as the Venezuelan Deripaska, Gorrin will be Usmanov, Diazgranados will be Sechin...