Venezuelan President Maduro’s right-hand man evacuates his two youngest children to China under fake names as Mike Pence turns the screws with public show of support for rival GuaidoDiosdado Cabello, known to be the second most-powerful man in Venezuela behind President Nicolás Maduro, sent two of his three children to China Airline boarding passes showed different…
Venezuelan President Maduro’s right-hand man evacuates his two youngest children to China under fake names as Mike Pence turns the screws with public show of support for rival Guaido
- Diosdado Cabello, known to be the second most-powerful man in Venezuela behind President Nicolás Maduro, sent two of his three children to China
- Airline boarding passes showed different names for Cabello’s daughter, Daniella Cabello, and his youngest son, Tito Cabello, raising suspicions
- Both children boarded the Havana to Beijing flight as Desiree Contreras and Tito Contreras, apparently using their mother’s surname to hide their identities
- The siblings left Havana on Friday and made it to Moscow on Saturday before connecting to a Beijing-bound flight that touched down Sunday
- In Colombia, U.S. vice president Mike Pence met Juan Guaido, recognized by the U.S. as the legitimate president, along with other regional leaders
- Pence announced more sanctions on the regime, singling out four governors, while at the border clashes continued in protest at an aid blockade
Venezuela’s second-most powerful man has sent his children to China amid the possibility President Nicolás Maduro’s government will crumble.
Diosdado Cabello, leader of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC), whisked his daughter and his youngest son off on a plane to Shanghai over the weekend.
It immediately raised suspicions because his wife’s surname – Contreras – was on the boarding passes.
Daniella Cabello, 22, boarded the plane with a US-issued passport as Desiree (her middle name) Contreras while his son Tito Cabello, 17, used a Ugandan passport and used the name Tito Contreras.
In recent days, it has been reported that several Maduro loyalists successfully arranged to have their immediate family members flee what once was considered one of the most economically powerful countries in South America.
The politician has three children.
In May 2018, the United States Department of Treasury issued sanctions against Cabello. A fortune of at least $800 million belonging to the Diosdado Cabello was either confiscated or frozen, according to the Miami Herald.
Tito Cabello (left) is pictured with his mother Marlenys Contreras (second from left), his father Diosdado Cabello (center) and his sister Daniella (second from right) and his older brother David Cabello (right)
Alliance: Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido, Colombia’s President Ivan Duque and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met at the Foreign Ministry in Bogota, Colombia Monday
Border clashes: A stand-off between protesters and Maduro-loyal security forces which claimed four lives over the weekend continued at the Simon Bolivar International Bridge which separates Venezuela from Colombia at Cucata. Maduro’s forces are blocking U.S. aid
Injuries: A protester was carried away in Cucuta, Colombia, amid another day of protests as anti-Maduro demonstrators tried to end a blockade of U.S. aid
Daniella Cabello (pictured) is the middle child of Diosdado Cabello. Her father flew her and her youngest brother to China on Friday as international pressure mounts on Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro’s ruling socialist party
Boarding passes issued by Russian airline Aeroflot shows that Daniella and Tito Cabello flew under the names of Desiree and Tito Contreras
Airline ticketing also shows that the siblings made a short layover in Moscow before landing in Beijing. They eventually boarded another plane Monday and touched down in Shanghai
Ticketing receipts posted to social media confirmed the politician’s children hopped on a Friday afternoon flight in Havana before making a short stop in Moscow on Saturday morning.
After a nearly two-hour layover, the siblings headed off to Beijing where they landed shortly after midnight Sunday.
A search on Russian airline Aeroflot showed that Daniella and Tito Cabello then got on a Beijing to Shanghai flight at 10:40am local time and touched down a 1pm local time.
The reservation system indicates they’re both scheduled to return to Havana on a one-stop flight March 12.
Daniella Cabello, who was deported from the U.S. in June 2018 after she tried to enter the country, has become a celebrity on social media and is dating Venezuelan singer Omar Acedo.
Diosdado Cabello (left) is the president of the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly and widely considered as the second-most powerful man behind President Nicolás Maduro. He sent two of his three children to China on Friday
Daniella Cabello (pictured) is expected to return to Havana with her youngest brother March 12
Daniella (pictured front center) has become a sensation on social media and is reportedly dating Venezuelan singer Omar Acedo (pictured rear center)
Their destination choice was not a coincidence since China – and Russia – have been loyal supporters of the Maduro regime.
17-year-old Tito Cabello’s (right) identity was reportedly switched to Tito Contreras on his boarding pass. He is pictured with his older brother, David Cabello (left)
On Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry declared it is opposed any interference by outside parties, a clear reference to the United States, Colombia, Brazil and almost 50 countries that don’t recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s leader.
China urged the ruling and opposition party, led by self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó, to iron out their differences at the table.
Venezuela was marred by clashes this weekend after the National Guard and police forces loyal to Maduro blocked trucks from crossing near the Brazilian and Colombian borders.
According to foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, China is strictly against ‘using the so-called humanitarian aid to serve political ends and stir up instability and even turmoil in Venezuela and its neighborhood, which is not in the interests of any party.’
The Trump administration on Monday announced new sanctions on allies of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro as it struggles to find new ways to boost his opponent Juan Guaido after an effort to deliver humanitarian aid to the economically devastated nation faltered amid strong resistance from security forces who remain loyal to the socialist leader.
NO INVASION OF VENEZUELA FROM OUR LAND, SAYS BRAZIL’S VEEP
Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão said on Monday that under no circumstances would his country allow the United States to intervene militarily in Venezuela from Brazilian territory.
‘Nobody is betting on a military solution,’ Mourão, a retired general, told reporters in Bogotá during a meeting of the Lima Group, a bloc of nations from Argentina to Canada dedicated to peaceful resolution of the Venezuelan crisis.
The Lima Group would not back an invasion by the United States, Mourão said, and will continue stepping up diplomatic, political and economic pressure on what he called the ‘regime’ of Venezuelan leftist President Nicolas Maduro.
Brazil, like many Western governments, has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said cracks already are appearing in Maduro’s support among the Venezuelan armed forces, with some 100 desertions during the weekend when the military blocked the entry of humanitarian aid at the borders with Colombia and Brazil. At least three people were killed in shooting.
The Venezuelan Army was not involved in the repression, a sign it was not prepared to shoot at its people, said Araujo, who was speaking alongside Mourão.
According to Mourão, China is rethinking its support for Maduro because it has realized his government will never pay back Chinese loans.
Vice President Mike Pence arrived in the Colombian capital for an emergency summit of regional leaders to discuss the deepening crisis and immediately met with Guaido, who the U.S. and 50 other nations recognize as Venezuela’s rightful leader.
In a speech to the group, Pence urged regional partners to freeze oil assets controlled by Maduro, transfer the proceeds to Guaido and restrict visas for Maduro’s inner circle.
He said the U.S. was imposing more sanctions on four pro-government governors, including a close Maduro ally who negotiated the release of an American in jail more than two years.
‘It’s time to do more,’ said Pence. ‘The day is coming soon when Venezuela’s long nightmare will end, when Venezuela will once more be free, when her people will see a new birth of freedom, in a nation reborn tolibertad.’
Pence’s appearance before the Lima Group comes at an important crossroads for the coalition of 14 mostly conservative Latin American nations and Canada that has joined forces to pressure Maduro.
A month after Guaido declared himself interim president at an outdoor rally, hopes that support for Maduro inside the military would quickly crumble have faded.
Over the weekend, security forces on the borders with Colombia and Brazil fired tear gas and buckshot on activists waving Venezuelan flags while escorting trucks with emergency medical and food kits. Four people have been reported killed and at least 300 wounded, although only a few were hospitalized.
While Colombian authorities said more than 160 soldiers deserted their posts and sought refuge across the border over the weekend, the highest-ranking among them was a National Guard major.
No battalion or division commanders have come forward to challenge Maduro despite almost-daily calls by Guaido and the U.S. to do so.
That’s left many asking what Guaido and the U.S. can do to break the stalemate.
For now, the U.S. is showing no signs it is considering a military intervention to remove Maduro.
During his visit, Pence repeated President Donald Trump’s threat that ‘all options are on the table’ but gingerly avoided talking about the potential for military action.
Instead, he stuck to traditional policy tools that so far have only hardened Maduro’s resolve.
Foremost among them was the addition of four governors to a growing list of more than 50 Venezuelan officials under sanctions and blocked from doing business or having accounts in the U.S.
The most prominent target was Rafael Lacava, the governor of central Carabobo state who played a key role negotiating the release last year of Joshua Holt, a Utah man who traveled to the South American country for love and ended up in jail, without a trial, for two years on what were seen as trumped-up weapons charges.
Pence also said the U.S. would continue to search for places to pre-position aid for eventual delivery to Venezuela, and announced $56 million in new assistance to countries in the region helping to absorb an exodus of more than 3 million Venezuelans who have fled hyperinflation and shortages in recent years.
‘In the days ahead, the United States will announce even stronger sanctions on the regime’s corrupt financial networks. We will find every last dollar they have stolen and return that money to the Venezuelan people,’ he said.
Guaido, in his visit to the Colombian capital, was afforded all the trappings of a head of state.
He posed for selfies with well-wishers upon arriving for the summit and stood before a pile of aid boxes stamped with the U.S. flag as he and Pence greeted a group of Venezuelan migrants, one of whom, an elderly man, wept as he shook hands with the U.S. vice president and pleaded for help.
But his speech to the diplomats was short on specifics despite speculation he would request a military intervention as a close ally, Julio Borges, the opposition ambassador to the Lima Group, suggested on Sunday.
‘Being permissive with the usurpation of power would be a threat to democracy in all of America,’ he said.
Meanwhile, several Latin American leaders who have been staunchly behind Guaido also rejected the use of force.
‘Let’s hope that the pressure of the international community, dialogue and prudence will prevail,’ said Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, who likened the crisis in Venezuela to what his country faced in the run up to the 1989 U.S. invasion to remove dictator Manuel Noriega.
‘Although the circumstances are similar, we must have the capacity to find a solution different than the one used back then.’
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in interviews on ‘Fox News Sunday’ and CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ did not rule out U.S. military force but said ‘there are more sanctions to be had.’
Any additional sanctions will increase the suffering of the Venezuelan people and may lead to more political violence, said Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who advocates a negotiated end to the political crisis.
‘The ‘humanitarian aid’ this weekend was a public relations stunt, since the aid was just a tiny fraction of the food and medicine that they are depriving Venezuelans of with the sanctions,’ Weisbrot said. ‘As the Trump administration admitted, it was an attempt to get the Venezuelan military to disobey Maduro. It was a farce, and it failed.’
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