The Wall Street Journal has a major piece by José de Córdoba and Juan Forero about the frugal, nay, Christlike existence of Venezuelan one time PDVSA Czar Rafael Ramírez and his cousin Diego “El Señor de los Relojes” Salazar.

It seems these two left-wing romantics have been up to some not-so-Marxist shenanigans, and neither U.S. nor Spanish authorities are pleased. As in, we’re-launching-full-major-criminal-investigations-on-your-asses not pleased.

The scale of the investigative effort now arrayed against them is quite something,

Earlier this month federal prosecutors from New York, Washington, Missouri and Texas met in person or by teleconference in Washington to coordinate actions and share evidence and witnesses in the various PdVSA-related probes, say three people familiar with the matter. The meeting also included agents from the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies, these people say.

So just what sort of hijinks have these two knuckleheads been up to to draw this kind of investigative fire?

Well, let’s see…where to begin?

There’s the one about Salazar demanding $150 million in kickbacks from Spanish construction executives for the right to bid on an electric-power project.

Or the one about the $154 million dollar slush fund of Chinese oil commissions deposited into a Salazar-owned shell company in Panama.

Rafael Ramirez A picture of virtuous probity.
Rafael Ramirez
A picture of virtuous probity.
Diego Salazar Tell me this dude doesn't reek of smarm.
Diego Salazar
Hobbies include helping old ladies cross roads…







Now, if you can’t be bothered to get out of bed for such puny sums, we can always talk about the $1.92 billion (with-a-muthafuckin’-“b”) profit Ramirez made from shady forex arbitrage using PDVSA funds.

Oooh, and don’t forget the up to $3 billion in yearly contracting overcharges that were syphoned off to top PDVSA executives under Ramirez’ watchful eye. That’s right, yearly.

(Here’s where the lawyers really do insist I say “allegedly”. OK – fine! – Allegedly.)

While the revolutionary Ramírez likes to swig from bottles of Château Pétrus, Salazar is busy obsessing over expensive watches and driving his Ferrari around Caracas. Apparently, “he sometimes hands out new Rolexes to people who attend his parties after first ceremonially grinding their old watches into scrap in a mortar and pestle he keeps handy.”

Lindo, ¿no?

I suggest you make yourself a nice cup of hot toddy and set aside some quiet time to sit down to read this one: it’s a veritable Smörgåsbord of crimes, enough to make Sepp Blatter feel like an underachieving wastrel.

Taller Maxima Eficacia Socialista 004

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  1. The investigations have a purpose ,in the US govt agencies dont do that kind of massive well organized investigations unless they have a lot of evidence lined up , evidence which can be used to construct a case which can be taken to court, or used before international authorities to take specific measures against those they target. this is serious business !! apparently the govt of Spain is helping the investigation , (mention is made of tapes made by them of the people involved) . Ramirez residing in the US is a threat to the regime should he be persuaded to spill the beans on other regime big wigs . As the article says he was booted out of his very high position as Zar of the Venezuelan economy and is probably not very happy at the bosses who did it to him. The fact that the WSJ published the piece is a sign that things are brewing which can reach a boiling point some time in the near future !!

    • the fine print says that this will not go to court. U.S. is not taking PDVSA to court so long we get our cheap oil…this is just a smear campaign. U.S. is only doing narcotics indictments for now

      • US dependence on Venezuelan oil is at an all time low , almost negligible The price is not cheaper than other sources , the continuing capacity of Venezuela to export oil to the US is suspect, its been falling steadily for years . Its the other way around , Venezuela is now more dependent on the US market to sell bls in actual cash at a good price.!! The US builds up its cases very carefully so that when they go to court they are almost impossible to oppose , they take their cases to court in their own good time , when they know they can have the worst possible effect on the people and regimes they mean to damage . Sometimes they will use the gathered information outside of court to get companies or countries to collaborate in action and measures that hurt their intented target without making a big international fuss. They are probably leaking information on the existence of these investigations as a warning shot to the regime , which understands it must be careful not to cause the case to be made public …..everything without anything express being said.

  2. What will Venezuela do? remove Ramirez from his diplomatic post and throw him in prison? Or promote him to vice president? So far, the government’s strategy in similar cases of corruption such as Cabello’s and Hugo Carvajal’s has been to reward the corrupt.
    This time there might be a variation: throw Lorenzo Mendoza in prison!

      • There is no love lost between RR and others inside the governing circle , he was humiliatingly brought down and may still be the subject of small malign acts of scorn and humiliation , they have to be careful however because hes got all the goods to make it very hot for them . People in the inner circle might yet use him in their intestine struggles . He must be very unhappy despite all the accumulated wealth . He might yet play a role in forthcoming Psuv manouvers although it doesnt seem likely .

        In the end he understood with more sense than others what had to be done to prepare fo the coming disaster but he had lost his political capital and could do nothing to get his plans heard . Now its probably too late !!

  3. Still, Venezuela has not cracked the astonishing top 10 in

    That’s probably because those popular ratings are just based on ‘how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be’. Since whatever’s left of Cleptozuela’s private sector is also highly corrupt, the entire country is permeated with various guisos at every single level of production, I’d venture to say that per capita, per GDP, and by sheer total Dollar amount embezzled every year for such rich oil nation with relatively few inhabitants, we should be proudly included in the top 5, if not # 1 yet.

  4. “His heart is on his left, but he keeps his wallet securely on his far right,” says a former close acquaintance, who notes Mr. Ramírez’s love of the best Château Pétrus wines, which sell for thousands of dollars per bottle. “He has very exquisite tastes.”

    Love reading articles such as these, revealing the duplicity of these rojo rojitos, while at the same time wondering about any pangs or wincing on the part of those who earlier got so sucked in by the Revolution. I’m talking to you, Juan Forero, formerly of the New York Times. Good gawd, how can a Latam journalist be so damned naïve?

  5. Love the photo above of Ramirez et al with the “Socialista” banner. I suppose “Nuevo Orden Economico” refers to stealing as much as possible from the country.

  6. This is the “biggest” story to come out about the Bolivarian Revolution in 5 years. Huge. Unprecedented. It appears that they have all of those bank accounts in Andorra to prove their case. Fascinating stuff

    • With these guys, I actually wouldn’t be shocked if all the watches he gave were bugged and transmitting GPS coordinates and audio to accumulate evidence for use in suborning and extorting his guests.

  7. I wonder if these guys received a lobotomy of the conscious.

    When I read Aporrea I see a fair share of true deluded believers, fanatics to be used as cannon fodder. Sad and dangerous people.

    But these guys are to the letter hypocrites. They vehemently preach something that they, by their action, just disparage.

    I guess after such fundamental moral flaws, greed just slips in as a chaser to the tune of billions.

    My dad, in his time, because of his work saw those pots of money go by him and never ever took a penny from it. My commie uncle (who I do love, even though I call him out on it), talking about him once confided that my dad never took anything because he could not bear the thought of being caught and having to face his children and my mother. The honesty he cultivated was worth more than ill gotten wealth. He died rather young far from being financially secure.

    So I wonder with these turds? Their parents were believers to the point of getting jailed, some killed. What about their children and family (I know one of the Sanso) do they just go about it as if you just broke wind in the middle of a family reunion?

    To a degree these guys are one notch short of James Bond villains.

    • Right. Those pseudo-intellectuals hypocrites “with the heart to the left and wallet to the right” are the worst. The sinking-ship jumping rats, detestable “Chavistas” but not “maduristas” anymore, like Nicmer Evans and thousands more. Promising, above all things, a fight against corruption. Same exact thing Comandante Pajarito talked about ad nauseam while deceiving everyone and opening Gabrielita’s 4 Billion bank accounts.

      They are the worst, real “evil villains” if there is such a thing, because they exploit people’s vulnerable side: their massive lack of real education, their gullibility. And most of them do so on purpose, with a plan, knowingly deceiving the ignorant pueblo, with galactic lies, dressed up in fancy words people don’t even understand.

      Fools who remain relatively honest to their stupid “socialistic” or “communist” beliefs, like the frugal Lenin, today’ s lobotomized Giordanis, are very, very rare. Many start with retarded ideals in their youths, indoctrinated by these “true villains”, but later realize the LIE, and it’s too late, they’ve already sold their souls, if they ever had one, utterly corrupted by money and/or power.

      Sadly, in devastated countries like Vzla it’s almost impossible to understand anything without 2 words: Massive Corruption, due to massive Ignorance.

      And these slightly more “avispao” rats take advantage of it, knowingly, totally screwing millions of helpless people in the process. Literally Killing 1/4 million of them so far in 16 years of this Chavista pest.

  8. The story refers to the involvement of “Venezuelan judicial authorities” in the investigation. That is the part of the piece I find most surprising and perplexing.

  9. Nice to see Juan Forero working for Rupert Murdoch. The article should not be knocked. It is after all the U.S. governments attempt at InfoOps.

    These are carefully orchestrated leaks designed to pressure the BRV. Unfortnately Im not privy to the strategy (if there’s one) but I’m a big proponent of using existing laws to go after the Bolivarians. There’s a lot of things the U.S. can do starting with enforcing the dept. of defense embargo. The U.S. has a ton of options at its disposal but it’s all a matter of priorities and with this administration the priority is saving a legacy and getting a democratic succesor.

  10. To give you an understanding of how compromised Obama is, Cuban special forces are covertly embedded in Syria with the tacit approval of the WH. This is true.

  11. Creo en los montos de los robos y las maneras, pero de ahí a creer que el tipo hacia harina-de-reloj en un pilón (al estilo tradicional de la harina de maíz pues!) y después les regalaba rolexes a sus invitados… parece un articulo escrito por una doña del Cafetal…

    • written like someone who’s never been intimately acquainted with fact checking at a big-time gringo publication, primo…

      read ->

      The New Yorker is, notoriously, the toughest cookie out there, but trust me, on a big investigative piece, the Wall Street Journal won’t be far behind. The Watch-Flour tid-bit is so juicy you can be certain it was scrutinized to death. If it survived the edit, it’s solid.

      • Lo de la doña del cafetal no era con Emiliana, era con el que escribio el articulo.

        Anyway, I hope that the watch-flour part its true

  12. Si yo tuviera ese realero, yo lo haria. But with nice cars and only close friends, maybe.

    Brilliant article Emiliana, one of your best so far. Not easy to make one laugh out loud with political comentary.

  13. It’s been bandied about for some time that the Rojitos were going to send an “exculpatory goat” at the time of their choosing to help them on 6D, rumors about Rafael Ramirez have been around for a long time so he might get the nod. Especially since the DOJ has loaded him in their sights.

    Should be a good popcorner.

    • The key to venezuelan political psychology is that not a single venezuelan is clueless to this. Corruption is acceptable, what is unacceptable is a seeming lack of arrogance about us being cool. Oppo sucks because their mentality requires very large portions of venezuelan society and joi de vivre to be uncool. Don’t like it? Fine. But don’t fool yourself.

      The oppo conundrum is how to be cool…


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