The Perfect Crime in Venezuela

The Peruvian government stands accused of degrading the concept
and practice of political asylum by granting it to one of the most
well-known crooks in Venezuela. Manuel Rosales ran against President
Chávez in the 2006 presidential elections and lost by a very wide
margin.

By Les Blough - Axis of Logic
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"Peru is prostituting the principle of asylum" is
the headline of a story re-published today in Axis of Logic's World
News. The Peruvian government stands accused of degrading the concept
and practice of political asylum by granting it to one of the most
well-known crooks in Venezuela. Manuel Rosales ran against President
Chávez in the 2006 presidential elections and lost by a very wide
margin. At one time, Rosales was considered to be the foremost leader
of the minority opposition against the Bolivarian government. He was
actively involved in the failed coup against President Chávez in April,
2002 and he was later granted amnesty for that crime against the
state by President Chávez. But in the last few years, the opposition
lost most of their interest in him, relegating him to the role of a
back room member of the old guard whose massive coup failure in 2002
broke the back of the opposition. Since then, the CIA-backed "student
movement", funded by NED and USAid, has taken the place of the old
guard.

Manuel Rosales on the lam

In
my interviews and discussions with members of the opposition, the
subject of Manuel Rosales occasionally comes up. Their typical response
is a rolling back of the eyes and a waving off with a hand. Recently, I
asked one of them what he thought of Rosales and he simply replied, "un
perdedor" (a loser). When he lost in the landslide defeat in 2006, he
embarrassed the opposition again and ended up as the mayor of Marcaibo,
a post which he abandoned when he was charged with corruption. He is
former governor of the State of Zulia, a hotbed for the opposition on
the Colombian border and more recently he held the post of a mayor. Typical
of opposition candidates, Rosales' political platform has always
been planked with unwarranted negative attacks on the government,
offering nothing positive for the future of Venezuela. 

In early April of this year, Salim Lamrani, an eminent Parisian scholar and analyst on Latin American affairs, wrote about Rosales:

"He is suspected of corruption and
unjustified enrichment during his mandate as governor of the state of
Zulia between 2002 and 2004. Rosales,
whose trial was transferred to Caracas (because he had met with four
judges of the state of Zulia), is suspected, amongst others of:

  • donating to relatives and friends more than 300 vehicles that belonged to the State;
  • starting businesses in Miami whose assets surpass US$ 11 million; and
  • taking bribes from the German
    enterprise Siemens for the construction of the Maracaibo subway. The
    said multinational corporation acknowledged having paid certain amounts
    in order to obtain the contract, without mentioning any name, however."

Prosecutors have been focusing on
corruption in government, charging a number of past and current
officials with related crimes - indeed, a serious problem in Venezuela
as it is in all countries. Among those charged is Carlos Giménez who
was politically affiliated with President Chávez and removed from
office in 2008. Rather than answering to the charges against him in
court, Rosales went on the lam
and ended up in Peru, where the U.S.-backed regime of Alan Garcia has
now given him asylum on the pretext that he is the victim of a drive to
eliminate political opponents of President Chávez. This, of course,
makes good press for the rabid Venezuelan opposition and the
anti-Chávez western media. But truth to tell, Rosales
never representated any real political threat to the elected government
or to President Chávez, politically or personally. Manuel Rosales
appears to be no more or less than a common, white-collar criminal who
got caught with his hand in the taxpayer's pocket like so many
politicians in the U.S.

Rosales
should be prosecuted and if convicted, should be sitting in a
Venezuelan jail. This story says as much about the corruption of Alan
Garcia's regime in Peru as it says about the thieves they are
protecting. The cornerstone of the perfect crime is getting away with
it. The way to do it in Venezuela is to claim persecution by the
government and to flee to Peru or Miami where political asylum is for
sale. But if you're interested in following suit, you better take some
money with you. It looks like Manuel Rosales had as much as $11 million
salted away in Miami for just that occasion.

- Les Blough in Venezuela

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