[News] Venezuela: Guaido to Use Funds Frozen in US to Pay Loyalists $5000 Monthly Salaries
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Fri Apr 24 11:58:11 EDT 2020
Venezuela: Guaido to Use Funds Frozen in US to Pay Loyalists $5000
By Lucas Koerner - Apr 23rd 2020
Santiago de Chile, April 23, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/>) - Venezuelan opposition legislators
have awarded themselves a monthly salary of US $5000, the Associated
Press reported <https://apnews.com/bd68454e33c7cf5a57fe7bdfa32fe5a7> on
Two opposition deputies and three aides to opposition leader Juan Guaido
confirmed the salaries on condition of anonymity, concerned that the
disclosure could cause further rifts in the anti-government ranks.
The payout provision was secretly tucked into a bill passed last week by
lawmakers loyal to Guaido, which establishes a $80 million “Liberation
Fund” to provide healthcare workers combatting the coronavirus pandemic
with US $100 bonuses for a duration of three months.
Around 60,000 healthcare providers will reportedly qualify for the
monthly benefit, which will be transferred electronically via a digital
platform managed by the Organization of American States.
It is unclear how the beneficiaries will be able to access and spend the
bonuses, as most monetary transactions in Venezuela involve physical
dollar payments or electronic payments in bolivars.
the plan last week, Guaido did not, however, divulge that $13.6 million,
or 17 percent of the fund, is earmarked for “the defense and
strengthening of the national legislative power and the social
protection of its members”, which will be paid retroactively to January.
Guaido proclaimed himself “interim president
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14244>” in January 2019 and was
immediately recognized by Washington, which imposed an oil embargo
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14615> and moved to freeze an
estimated $11.6 billion in Venezuelan state assets in the US, including
bank accounts as well as Venezuelan national oil company PDVSA’s
US-based subsidiary, Citgo.
According to AP, the “Liberation Fund” will be financed via funds frozen
in US-based Venezuelan government accounts.
The Trump administration recently moved $342m
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14850> belonging to the Venezuelan
Central Bank (BCV) from a frozen Citibank account to an account at the
New York Federal Reserve. The Guaido-led opposition reportedly
“approved” the measure, which the BCV called “plunder.”
AP reports that an additional 11 percent of the $80 million allocated
will cover the expenses of diplomatic staff in countries that recognize
Guaido, while other funds will be dedicated to communications outreach
and judicial cooperation abroad.
The plan likewise contains a provision to include substitute opposition
lawmakers on the $5000 monthly payroll.
Nonetheless, it remains to be seen how many legislators in the
opposition-controlled National Assembly will receive the salaries.
Guaido lost <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14755> the presidency of
the National Assembly in January following a split in the opposition. He
proceeded to set up a parallel parliament
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14759> composed largely of substitute
and exiled legislators, which retains support from the US, regional
allies, and the European Union.
The dissident opposition faction currently at the helm of the National
Assembly under President Luis Parra, as well as pro-government
legislators, will very likely be excluded from the payout. Parra and
other opposition figures were sanctioned
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14764> after breaking ranks with
Guaido in January.
Guaido has yet to gain access to the $80 million, which the Trump
administration must reportedly approve by granting a special license
access to a five-member commission.
Washington has repeatedly dispensed funds to the Venezuelan opposition,
including $98 million in October
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14685> and $52 million in September
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14668> of last year.
The Venezuelan opposition under Guaido was dogged by corruption scandals
in the second half of 2019. The opposition leader’s envoys to Colombia
were revealed to have embezzled
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14545> hundreds of thousands of
dollars of “humanitarian aid” destined for deserting soldiers, while
corruption allegations <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14739> hang
over the opposition’s management of a Venezuelan petrochemical
subsidiary in Colombia. Guaido also came under fire after photos
surfaced showing him posing alongside notorious Colombian drug lords Los
/With additional reporting by Ricardo Vaz from Mérida./
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