The plane held in Ezeiza.  (Photo: AFP / Sebastian Borsero)

Juan Guaido smile. He has just joined the virtual interview that his spokesperson scheduled a few hours in advance. He is one of the most important leaders of the Venezuelan opposition. one of which for years facing Nicholas Maduro. Pick up the call from somewhere you’d rather not give it out on Caracas Venezuela. You are in danger, so you can change the schedule, the appointment, at any time. Everything, for him, can change at any moment.

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The Iranian plane scandal

– More than 15 days have passed since the Iranian-Venezuelan plane has been in Argentina. What information do you handle? Do you think that these instructors are indeed pilots stranded in Argentina? Are they Iranian?

– Several things. The first thing has been the constant denunciation of the Iranian-Venezuelan relations. Initially companies for launder money, who have previously been linked to sanctions by the American early warning system. Investigation that has been generated through this, if I am not mistaken, by American federal agencies of the relationship of these pilots of Iranian origin with the Quds Force.

– What about Venezuela’s relationship with Argentina?

– There is the pattern of relations that Maduro and before Chávez had with Argentina. We have denounced briefcases full of money to finance campaigns, so that relationship has been very dark. At the time, we warned about the Maduro’s links with terrorist groupsnot only in the region like the ELN or the FARCbut with Iran and some other Middle Eastern countries. So we raised the alarm to be able to report, to get to the bottom of this. It must call the attention of the democratic governments of the region, not only of Argentina, not only of Venezuela, but also of the entire region.

The plane held in Ezeiza. (Photo: AFP / Sebastian Borsero)

– Many hypotheses are being discussed, what do you think is the purpose of these flights?

– Look, so far, as you say, they are hypotheses. We can’t pinpoint an investigation. Now I am going to give you cases that the dictatorship has done in the past with strange flights to Venezuela for money laundering. For example, have used third countries to bypass the sanctions imposed, whether by the European Union, by the United States, by Canada. Sanctions, by the way, for money laundering, for drug trafficking, for corruption, in some cases for human rights violations. They have used at times Russiain moments to Iran to bring money. I’m not saying that’s what this plane is doing, but that’s one of the routes used by Maduro and his dictatorship to launder money or to jump the sanctions imposed on his dictatorship.

– Do you have other suspicions?

– We also assume the worst, as the illegal extraction of minerals from Venezuela. Initially they used Nicaragua. For example, there was a company that was later sanctioned by the United States that had increased its exports by 300% in two years. There were no new mines in Nicaragua, at any time, it was that they were extracting the gold from Venezuela and laundering the so-called “blood gold”. Also not only deforestation, but ethnocide, ecocide, among other things. And it is again the pattern that the Maduro dictatorship uses with this type of atypical or infrequent routes.

Venezuela’s link with Iran

– What is the link between Venezuela, the government of Nicolás Maduro, and Iran?

– Look, it goes back from the 2008-2009, when Chavez is linked to this country. Some companies settled in Venezuela. They are companies with low business productivity. Then they turned out to be sanctioned by the United States because provided financial services to terrorist groups to launder money to finance these groups. It dates back to 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Hugo Chávez with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Miraflores Palace, in 2012. (Photo: AFP/Juan Barreto).
Hugo Chávez with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Miraflores Palace, in 2012. (Photo: AFP/Juan Barreto).

– What happens today?

– Currently uses Iran to jump or ride american sanctions to launder money. We do not rule out, although we do not have all the elements, that the whole issue has to do with weapons in the region. For these irregular groups there have been reports on the border with Brazil of the presence of rare weapons which they use again to exploit gold illegally. It must also draw the attention of the democracies, of course in America, but also in the whole world, for what it means directly or indirectly financing irregular groups, as Maduro does today. It is not surprising that they also try it with this type of group in Iran.

I also read: Quds Force, the fearsome elite Iranian terrorist group linked to the plane seized in Ezeiza

– In Argentina the scandal unleashed several edges. The most important, the pilot. Who is the pilot? It is said that he is a member of the Quds Force. What do you think?

– Take a good look at the signs, not only in Argentina, Paraguay or Uruguay, but also in American federal agencies. There are there is a direct signal. Even early news reports linked this pilot to the Quds force. So no wonder it has direct binding with these forces again. And it is not surprising because it is not only the financial issue to which he was referring, but also that the Maduro regime has processed the delivery of documentation to these irregular groups in the Middle East and to regional terrorist groups.

Gholamreza Ghasemi is the most committed in Judge Villena's investigation.  (Photo: Twitter @IranIntl_En)
Gholamreza Ghasemi is the most committed in Judge Villena’s investigation. (Photo: Twitter @IranIntl_En)

– You have to take this very seriously. It is that this type of relationship cannot be trivialized, because it is trivializing, whether it is a dictatorship, as in the case of Maduro, and what they mean the links with terrorism of this regime, but also what they do even the attacks in the past in Argentina or what terrorism means for the whole world. I think this is not the time to trivialize this type of complaint.

I also read: They found photos of military weapons and anti-Semitic slogans on the cell phone of the Iranian pilot

– There is information about the last flights of Nicolás Maduro between March and today. It seems that one of his favorite airlines is Mahan Air, today Conviasa. What do you think? Is it so?

– Well, we have seen how at least two large aircraft have been transferred to Conviasa. In other words, from a company already sanctioned by the United States and even Europe, they are transferred to a company also sanctioned by the United States. The movement is to treat or I imagine to whiten some of the operations. We also saw for example Russia wanted to place military bases in Venezuela or Nicaragua and transfer its theater of war operations to America.

The reaction of the Argentine Government

– What evaluation do you make of the behavior or reaction of the Argentine government?

– The expected answer for any government is the investigation, complaint. It must be said that from the beginning, the Argentine institutionality reacted in this way. In fact, they paralyzed the plane. The crew is currently investigating. They withheld passports. Now again, statements must go to the right place. You cannot trivialize or relativize, or blame a third party, or the opposition, or the outside. Maduro’s links with regional terrorism and international terrorism must be taken into account. Let’s not lose sight of the pattern of what has been the relationship with campaign financing, the famous case Anthony Wilson.

– Do you think that the Argentine government trivialized the scandal and analyzed the situation of the plane?

– Look, relativizing does not tend to that. That is to say, it is not an issue and I am sure it is not, because the Justice is acting in Argentina independently of the opposition or any political group. I raise my hand for the lost democracy and that we are fighting to recover in our country. That’s why I think there is no margin to relativizebut on the contrary, to be used thoroughly in the investigation of these cases.

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– However, there is a sector of the government that did not issue any reaction. The Argentine government had some scandals in between, but Vice President Cristina Kirchner did not speak about it.

– We saw the opposition at the Summit of the Americas with respect to Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which has to do with fundamental rights such as human rights, to live with dignity or even to be able to choose freely. I believe that this must be assumed from a global perspective, a perspective of the defense of democracy. There are geopolitical pretensions of some who want to have influence or levels of influence in Latin Americaimporting to our continent an alien conflict.

Petro’s victory in Colombia

– How do you evaluate Gustavo Petro’s victory in Colombia? What impact will it have on the region?

– Look, the Colombians decided. The first thing is respect for the sovereign decision, worth the word again of Colombia. We trust in the institutions that have built this country for years. So we fully trust the Colombian institutions in their citizens, in the decision they have made now from cities and on behalf of Venezuelans. There are almost 2 million Venezuelans in Colombia. We make voices to protect the most vulnerable.

Former guerrilla Gustavo Petro and his wife Verónica Alcocer celebrate before their supporters after winning the second round of the presidential elections in Bogotá, Colombia, Sunday, June 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
Former guerrilla Gustavo Petro and his wife Verónica Alcocer celebrate before their supporters after winning the second round of the presidential elections in Bogotá, Colombia, Sunday, June 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

So the decisions that the newly elected president will make when he takes office in August, Let’s hope they are in favor of the region, democracy, human rights and that we have a continent that is not only more integrated, but also more prosperous, dignified and, of course, with a view to the future, not of delay, not of anachronistic days, but, on the contrary, of progress, prosperity, strengthening democracy, defense of the environment, among other things.

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