Regarding Henry

Ramos-Allup(Disclaimer: A few weeks ago, AD leader Henry Ramos Allup wrote a stinging op-ed claiming that some overseas bloggers were supposedly part of a “disgusting dirty war laboratory” looking to defame certain sectors of the opposition. The whole thing is demeaning – full of baseless allegations, innuendo, and even homophobic slurs. Without naming them, we all knew he was referring in part to Alek Boyd, the editor of

Caracas Chronicles has been loath to delve into the whole Derwick-Diosdado-opposition saga – it’s just not the type of thing we do. We have been monitoring the story, but we prefer to leave the writing on this topic to pros such as Setty, or even mystery writers such as Tomás Lander.

What we do care about is accountability inside the opposition. In that vein, a few days ago Thor Halvorssen wrote a scathing rebuttal to Henry Ramos Allup that caused quite a stir. Halvorssen brings Ramos to task for his allegedly close links to the revolution’s most unsavory characters. 

What follows is an English-language translation of the letter sent to me by a reader, including links to several of its claims.

Ultimately, what matters about all of this is that the opposition needs to come clean about its relationship with the bolibourgoisie. There are serious concerns about the commitment of certain people inside the opposition to what should be the common cause. These need to be discussed out in the open. 

Let’s hope at some point Mr. Ramos Allup responds to these incredibly damaging allegations.)

Dear Henry,

I finally received a copy of the “report” that you refer to in your article in Nuevo País, “Laboratorio Sucio,” (“Dirty Laboratory”) published last month. First of all, I must express my surprise because the report-pamphlet clearly includes you as one of its sources given that in its first page there is a [blackberry] PIN message that I sent you via PIN along with your response to me. I note with amusement that you failed to include our entire correspondence.

The “dossier” that you made reference to in your article is made up of information that had already been published months ago and comes solely from three sources that lack any form of credibility and whose authors are those in charge of setting up the trumped-up criminal cases against opposition leaders in Venezuela: (1) A pro-Maduro blogger named Orlando Romero Harrington, who recycles content that has been repeated ad nauseam by the propagandists of the Cuban and Venezuelan dictatorships Jean-Guy Allard and Eva Golinger; (2) The articles of Primicias24, a website that devotes itself to the defense of the owners of Derwick Associates and which mercilessly attacks the perceived enemies of this company – following the direct orders of Derwick shareholder Francisco Convit-Guruceaga; and (3) Venezuela’s SEBIN and CICPC, in other words, the regime’s political police. I invite you to google the phrases from this pamphlet you’re promoting and you’ll see that its information was obtained from sources that have no credibility whatsoever. In other words, it is a weak pathetic farce that is anything but serious and consists of a cut-and-paste job from Primicias24, the pro-government blogger, and other sources in order to make a pamphleteering mishmash.

Since I am without a doubt one of the people you refer to in your article, I must also express my disgust and outrage -but also my surprise- that in this case calls for an explanation. And I say surprise because it is hard to believe that a serious politician like you, a long-time parliamentarian with a respectable career characterized for its fight against corruption, would write those things in Nuevo País without presenting any names, a shred of evidence, or arguments of any kind, and without admitting that you took part in the production of said smear. Your article is outrageous, but at the same time terribly dismaying because it revealed how you were capable of sinking to the lowest level in your quest to defend the indefensible while shamelessly ignoring the realities that, unlike what you describe, are self-evident and do not get published in any bought-off media outlet and that aren’t included in any opinion pieces subservient to special interests; but instead are realities that take place in courts of law in the United States –courts that, as you may well know, obey the rule of law and not economic or political interests, as is regrettably the case in our country.

Something particularly noteworthy is the fervor with which you characterize a strictly legal matter as a defamatory “dirty war”; a matter that due to its magnitude should have been addressed by the nation’s political leaders (both in the government and the opposition) and especially by you, but sadly, it has not even been mentioned. What you call “laboratories” in civilized and democratic countries they called journalism, public opinion, commentary in social media, and legal briefs. In my particular situation it is the court case “Halvorssen v. Betancourt-Lopez, Trebbau-López, Derwick Associates, D’Agostino-Casado, et al”. It is significant that your article mentions “the blood ties between laboratory agents and Venezuelan politicians.” Henry, although Leopoldo López Mendoza is my first cousin, that does not discredit him nor does it discredit me considering we don’t have a single business deal or project in common beyond our shared devotion to the cause of democracy and the defense of human rights.

On the other hand, you remain silent regarding your brother-in-law Francisco D’Agostino-Casado, someone who has been sued multiple times and stands accused of bribing Diosdado Cabello with many millions of dollars and committing fraud in power plant contracts. The truth is that for more than fifteen months you have been ignoring manifold questions from thousands of Venezuelans on social media and even from CNN regarding Derwick Associates and the ten contracts awarded by the Venezuelan government to this company that had no prior experience in the construction of electrical power plants. This same company has your relative D’Agostino as a shareholder. Surely you are aware of this situation. When you were denouncing corruption in the 1980s you used to end your published newspaper advertisements with the phrase: “silence gives consent.”

Maybe you should clarify if the discrediting done in your article is directed at those of us who have denounced the corruption of Derwick Associates, or if such accusations really do not matter to the wing of the MUD [the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable] of which you are part of and therefore it makes us MUDs detractors. Furthermore, you have never mentioned that the fact that the former Deputy Executive Secretary of the MUD and co-promoter of the pamphlet, Ramón José Medina, is also a principal Director of the Banco Occidental de Descuento, whose owner, Víctor Vargas Irasquín, is known worldwide as chavismo’s banker. It is in the BOD where the chavista government keeps most of its deposits, according to Sudeban [Venezuelan banking authority]. Isn’t it odd that your former MUD colleague Medina is employed by Vargas, the banker of chavismo? I suppose that, given that your brother-in-law Francisco D’Agostino is Vargas’ own son-in-law, it means this is an unmentionable topic for Accion Democratica [the Venezuelan labor party] and inside the MUD. Your frenzied attitude of accusing everyone prevents you from looking at those you have around you. I vividly remember your fight against corruption between 1980 and 2007. Where is that Henry Ramos Allup? What happened to him? Did he get lost arriving in Miami this past Christmas as a passenger in the Derwick’s shareholder’s private jet?

I want to make it very clear that Alek Boyd is neither my associate nor my colleague. More than five years ago he worked for the Human Rights Foundation where he did an excellent job that included valuable research regarding the use of “communal justice” in Bolivia and the danger that poses to due process. Since then, Boyd has been working as an investigative journalist and writes for the Spanish newspaper El País. You said that Boyd and his mother are “drug traffickers” and you wrote to me that he is “a fugitive of the Venezuelan justice system for the crimes of drug trafficking, grand theft auto, accusations of rape and assault, and there is a court order for his arrest.” You are wrong and it is careless and ignorant to not even check if these accusations are true. Couldn’t you do some fact-checking before making such severe accusations? The pamphlet of course, says that Boyd’s mother is wanted recently in Spain for drug trafficking. Henry, the poor woman died from cancer in 1983 during president Jaime Lusinchi’s administration. I urge you to consider how repeating all these easily verifiable falsehoods makes you look. The pamphlet said, for instance, that the organization I founded and currently lead, the Human Rights Foundation, is “financed by the NED (National Endowment for Democracy)”, something demonstrably false, since both HRF and the NED make our programs and benefactors public and there is no relationship between us at any level. At my request, even Mr. Carl Gershman, a highly respected man in the United States and the president of the NED, had the kindness of sending me a letter where it is clearly stated that we have never received a cent, neither directly nor indirectly, from the NED.

I would also like to make it very clear that Alek Boyd, who in the pamphlet is accused of being my “gay partner” is not, given that we are not compatible in that respect and our relationship was always strictly professional. However, even if we were, why would that matter, Henry? It is disgraceful that the Secretary General of what was the most prominent Venezuelan political party of the 20th century – the one that made Dr. Gonzalo Barrios its candidate and nearly the president of the nation, would in this new century present same-sex relationships as ignominious in what is a deeply homophobic and hypocritical exercise, especially considering you told the media on August 19, 2013: “A psychiatrist once told me that homophobes were repressed homosexuals, that with these attitudes they wanted to dilute any suspicion of their own homosexuality, because they are ashamed of their condition.” What would you say to Gonzalo Barrios, the founder of your party Henry? What would he say about you?

Finally, I would like to put on record my unwavering democratic conviction that has made me a critic and opponent of the Venezuelan regime for almost 15 years, and my public and well-known association to the noblest causes of humanity as a human rights advocate at the foundation I lead. Our organization publishes its list of donors on a yearly basis and its board of directors include Soviet dissident and writer Vladimir Bukovsky, chess world champion and democracy activist Garry Kasparov (who serves as board chairman since 2012), journalist and writer Álvaro Vargas Llosa, writer and Nazi concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel, former Prime Minister of Estonia Mart Laar, and Chinese democracy activist Harry Wu. The poet, former political prisoner, activist, human rights defender and first president of the Czech Republic (1993-2003), Václav Havel, also formed part and chaired HRF’s board until his death in 2012.

All of this has taught me not to lose sight of my horizons, much less those of my family. Henry, I am not afraid of you or your banker, cadivisita, bolichico and enchufado relatives. I will battle against them until justice is done in American courts and until the day comes that the courts in our country are once again arenas of justice and due process. For now, I rebuke your participation in the production of this report and your partaking in its promotion, and I express my disappointment and surprise at how careless you have been, repeating falsehoods that are so easily debunked. It is never too late to set things right.

I hope this sheds some light on any doubts and makes clear where you stand (and with whom).

Thor Halvorssen Mendoza