Opposition Releases Alleged Recording Demonstrating Corruption within Venezuelan Government

The Venezuelan opposition yesterday released a recording which they claim shows evidence of corruption and internal factionalism within the government. However journalist Mario Silva, supposedly in the recording, said it was a “set-up”.

The recording is allegedly of a conversation between government supporter Mario Silva, who hosts the current affairs program La Hojilla on state channel VTV, and Aramis Palacios, a Cuban military official and supposed member of Cuban intelligence G2.

Opposition legislators played the audio file to press late yesterday morning. The recording lasted around 50 minutes, with opposition legislator Ismael Garcia saying that it would have been from “a little after the 14 April election”.

Within minutes of the opposition releasing the recording, private national newspaper Ultimas Noticias, together with other private international and national media, released a full written transcript of it.

Garcia claimed that the recording would have been handed over to Cuban president Raul Castro, “who seems to direct Venezuelan politics”.

In the recording, Silva made a series of alleged comments in which the pro-government head of the national assembly, Diosdado Cabello, is implicated in acts of corruption and plotting against President Nicolas Maduro.

Cabello is accused of using the government’s currency exchange commission CADIVI and tax authority SENIAT as “sources of financing”, facilitated by Cabello’s brother, Jose David, who heads SENIAT. Part of this is the apparent “leaking” of dollars from CADIVI to Cabello via “ghost companies”.

The national assembly president is also claimed to be conspiring against Maduro. This supposed “Cabello faction” is accused of seeking to “remove (Defence Minister) Diego Molero…to take power of the armed forces and direct Maduro as they want, or launch a state coup”.

Other claims aired in the recording are that the opposition hacked the National Electoral Council system and changed the 14 April presidential election result in their favour, that Vice-president Jorge Arreaza is a contact of opposition journalist Nelson Borrancada, and that state channel VTV is being run by a corrupt “Vampire Group”.

After playing the recording, Garcia called for a parliamentary session to open an investigation into what he called a “very grave” situation.

Meanwhile, former opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who had been building up the release of the audio file over the previous day, tweeted that “all corrupt and illegitimate governments implode”.

Earlier this month Capriles told press that a “possible recall referendum” is “building up strength”. Further, since former president Hugo Chavez became sick at the end of last year, the opposition  and private media has waged a campaign against so called Cuban “interference” in Venezuela, and suggesting that Cabello should have been the interim president, and that there is a “divide” within the government between Cabello and Maduro.

Silva and Cabello respond