Photo: AP

The Associated Press just published a thorough investigation on Gabriel Jiménez, a dude about my age who’s trying to get Maduro the money he needs.

A chief strategist of Venezuela’s government-backed cryptocurrency is a former U.S. congressional intern who once organized protests against the same socialist administration he’s now helping to circumvent U.S. financial sanctions.

Yes, you read right: he used to work for one of Maduro’s strongest critics, U.S. Representative, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Gabriel came to our office and said he wanted to learn how to support freedom and democracy,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. “Instead, it appears he is using the freedoms that the United States provided him in order to help advance the Maduro regime’s attempts to consolidate power and destroy Venezuela’s democratic institutions. Those who work to support the Maduro regime and provide it a financial lifeline have chosen their lot and should expect to face the full consequences of turning against their people.

Gabriel’s work has never been particularly interesting in the actual tech scene — I’d describe it as smoke-selling and shallow-copying other ideas — but he went from a mediocre performer to an outright menace when he stumbled upon cryptocurrencies. Using his bolichico connections, he got close to the government.

He talks of “democratizing” access to global financial system for struggling entrepreneurs and decentralizing Venezuela’s government-run foreign exchange system, which many blame for the economy’s depressed state.

Um, we don’t believe you, Gabriel. You saw an opportunity to get rich and powerful and you took it — 7.6% of all petros sure sounded like a sweet deal! But you knew full well Maduro had no intention of decentralizing the economy or giving up power. He’s going to pocket whatever money he raises, dude. You’re throwing a lifeline to the dictator that ruined our country.

Shame on you.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.

54 COMMENTS

  1. As we will find out, most schemes over the last 15 years, save notable exceptions, have been desing and implemented with the goal of embezeling and looting the national Treasure. In a short broad stroke, that is all chavismo ever was and will always be known for, a rage-full mirage of “social justice” to distract and sugarcoat looting at grand scale.

    Techno, and non technological schemes with insider (government) ties to loot trillions of dollars.

    Your new kid in the (crypto) block, is but one single example of this reality Alejandro.

  2. This is one of those “wait, what?!” moments. Is this guy a US citizen? If not, he has no business being an intern of US congress. If so, he will be subject to prosecution if they nab him.

    • My first thought exactly but: “Do interns have to be U.S. citizens?
      Members of Congress have broad discretion to determine who works in their offices, but different
      rules and considerations may apply to a noncitizen’s service, based on the individual’s status,
      particularly if the individual receives pay.
      29 House offices may wish to contact the Office of the
      General Counsel, Committee on Ethics, or the Committee on House Administration before
      employing a noncitizen as an intern. In the Senate, offices may wish to contact the Senate
      Disbursing Office, Office of Legal Counsel, Select Committee on Ethics, or the Committee on
      Rules and Administration for guidance on employing noncitizen interns.
      The House and Senate ethics manuals provide some general guidance for congressional offices on
      working with foreign-national interns. Conflict-of-interest considerations may affect the
      responsibilities an office chooses to assign to a foreign-national intern. Interns who are foreignnationals
      should not be assigned duties that might influence U.S. policy in a way that benefits the
      intern’s home country. As with interns who are U.S. citizens or nationals, a foreign-national intern who receives outside funding for an internship should not be assigned work responsibilities that
      might affect the intern’s employer or other sponsoring organization.”

      https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44491.pdf

      • Maria – OK, but wow, if I am a voter within this person’s district, I am pissed. plenty, PLENTY of deserving US citizens for those plum internships (apologies to Ms. Lewinsky, who got the cigar version). Instead they allow some corrupt Venny dude’s kid….
        I’m guessing there was a donation to a campaign.

        • Ros-Lehtinen according to a Wikipedia article seems pretty right-wing in some respects. Her family escaped from two wars, one in the eastern block countries (I think I got that right) and then from Cuba. She was in the Committee for Foreign Affairs and in 2014 called for sanctions against the regime in Venezuela with regard to violence against protestors, and set up some kind of Venezuelan rights legislation – which is probably how this Gabriel Jimenez guy wormed his way in. Without going into details which might be considered personal, she apparently has some very left-wing tendencies. She was not born in the U.S.. She will not be running for office 2018.

          I was not going to mention that being a U.S. citizen is not a requirement for an intern, but maybe it should be mentioned to encourage congressmen to “vet” their interns more carefully, and dump their “inclusive” and “diversifying” ideas (before we get Somali warlord interns). The U.S. is infamous for shooting itself in the foot with its liberal and inclusive policies, notably educating Yamamoto at Harvard. (Yamamoto went back to Japan and led the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941 and continued to lead the Japanese fleet until the U.S. realized its mistake, and a P-38 Lightning blew him out of the sky April 18, 1943. A foreign Japanese art student in Hawaii sketched the moorings at Pearl Harbor and delivered them to the Japanese naval intelligence prior to the attack. Then liberals complained about the U.S. quarantine of Japanese who were in the U.S.. Japan was conclusively told to STFU on August 6 and 9, 1945. Oddly enough, American universities continue to allow foreigners access to their research labs where they take U.S. ideas and, with less stringent production approval restrictions in their countries, bring them to market well before U.S. companies. For a few million in donations, big foreign corporations gain access to literally billions of dollars worth of research, essentially just stealing it. A number of notable product lines have been sold to American consumers that way, increasing the U.S. trade deficit and leaving U.S. manufacturers out.)

        • With that amount of wealth, this kid probably had an amazing education.

          I am not excusing him. Just highlighting what large of amounts of money can do to make you look good on paper.

          Also, it would be silly to restrict most jobs to U.S citizens. What matters is if they are legal residents, besides anything requiring national security.

          Also, it’s very strange because his father is in the U.S and known to be working with U.S intelligence services. Something seems off here.

          https://www.primicias24.com/nacionales/jose-luis-santoro-yo-soy-rico-de-cuna-gabriel-jimenez-es-un-ladron/

          To any editor who wants to look deeper into this. Here’s the link.

          • Perhaps part of his high-priced education involved learning how to game the system, any system.

            He sure wouldn’t be the first.

      • I don’t know the legality, but I know of unpaid volunteers who have worked with mayorships, without being citizens. It happens.

    • I believe that Congress allows themselves very broad discretion as to who the employ. However, a non-citizen could never get a security clearance and have access to classified documents.

    • “Boli” is short for “bolivarian”.

      “chico” is short for “kid”.

      He’s a “bolivarian kid”, which means he has strong connections with those in power

      • William, think “nouveau riche” but they can talk “revolucionario” enough to have big connections for big guisos (corruption schemes)…historically many were CADIVIeros with phony companies, but the big time mega guisos grow the better connected they are. Think white collar criminals driving around in 100,000$ Toyota 4 runners, dressed like sifrinos in brand name clothing, wining and dining at the finest restaurants and partying at the hippest clubs and posh resorts.

        Most have fled the country by now and have nice properties in Panama, Madrid, Paris, El Imperio…only the best connected remain today.

    • The “Boli” part goes further.

      It is a call out to those who claimed to be for the BOLIvarian revolution, but used their connections to it for personal gain.

  3. “A lawyer by training who describes himself as an “innovation enthusiast,” Jimenez spent several years working at a Dominican Republic-based bank where his father was a top manager. The bank collapsed in 2014 and his father was among several Venezuelan executives charged by the Caribbean nation with defrauding depositors of $30 million.”

    “This is about providing oxygen to people, not a government,” Jimenez said in an interview at the bustling Caracas office of The Social Us, where a dozen young programmers scrawled code in pink markers on glass windows overlooking a verdant valley and busily designed promotional materials for the petro.”

    That’s how corruptible most Kleptozuelans are. First chance they get, first bribe they smell, they jump on it. Yes, even the young, somewhat educated new generation, such as this dozen young thieves. The MUD is full of similar chameleons, they’re everywhere. Most of the few decent, honest, educated young (and older) professionals got the hell out of there long ago. And most students that still survive, are waiting to do the same: either leave the country just as soon as they graduate (for free), or jump on a juicy Guiso as these scoundrels and many others did. They are everywhere. At all levels.

    So you can easily see what Kleptozuela will be like even if the US and the civilized world are kind enough to kick the Narco-Tyranny out, by sheer economic strangulation and/or military force. MUD like these “Social US” weasels will take over, that plus more MUDcrap like Ramos Allup, Capriles, Falson, Nicmer Evans, etc. That’s the future of the bankrupt tropical “shithole” we used to know as Venezuela, way after Chavismo is kicked out. Puro Guiso y miseria.

    • MRubio
      I’ve been trying to call you.
      How is Crystal doing?
      How are things going with the vegetables? I hope by now there has been some harvests.
      Our friend in Caracas is still trying to find a phone.

      • John, Crystal has had a tough time, will undergo surgery again this week to remove part of her intestine that is not functioning properly.

        People here at the bodega are reporting that they’re starting to harvest some vegetables from the initial packages of seeds you forwarded. These were handed out to individuals in small quantities so they were intended for personal use, not for commercial sales.

        The onion seeds are also now planted and when available I’ll send you some photos. I selected two producers who have experience with onions, irrigation systems, and land that is not in danger of flooding as the rainy season approaches. Both have promised to sell a percentage of their harvest here in the pueblo as opposed to sending the harvest up to Barcelona as is typical (higher prices there). Both were very pleased to receive seeds John. It’s now almost impossible to find onion seeds with the few coming available to be found only at Agropatria. Those seeds to go to their preferred clients first, of course.

        What happened to Vicky’s phone? Lost, stolen, died?

        Thanks for asking about Crystal.

        • MRubio
          I will keep Crystal in my prayers. I can’t imagine the anguish that you and your family are experiencing. Please let me know if there is anything that I can send that she needs.
          I will let Crosman’s know that their seeds are helping people. It may be possible to harvest some of the vegetables for a long time. My father had a neighbor in Florida that kept tomato vines alive for around 3 years until a hard frost finally killed them. He had them on an arbor. I had never realized that they could grow that long. The frosts here always end the growing season.
          I’m glad the onions are working out. Any time that I have had an onion go to seed the, the seed heads were loaded with seed. I hope this variety yields a high seed count.
          Vicky got robbed again. She hasn’t been able to find a new phone. If you have any access to even a used one, I will reimburse you for it if it can be sent to her. She can only e-mail me when she is in the office at her work.
          This time it was on the street. The last time armed robbers boarded the bus she was on and robbed everybody.
          I’ve been trying to call you with no luck. It seems that the calls coming into the country are hit and miss.
          If you do need anything, one of your family members can e-mail me and I will just use Google translate. I will send it air freight so you get it asap.
          Take care and best of luck to Crystal.

          • John, I do have an old phone, a very humble old phone but short of the battery dying, it was working fine before. It’s a digitel phone. I never replaced the battery because after Digitel had their transmission equipment stolen for about the 5th time, they gave up on coverage for our pueblo. I can’t blame them.

            Ask Vicky if she’d be interested in it and I can figure out how to send it to her right away. She’ll need to replace the battery and buy a new Digitel chip, as I can’t find the original at the moment. If she’s interested, I’ll also look for the charger which should be in the box with the other 500 old chargers we’ve got on hand.

            Also, and she should know this, a technician can probably “liberate” the phone and she can then use movinet or movilstar service if she desires.

            Just let me know once you speak to her.

            And no, you will NOT reimburse me for anything. All I’ll need is her physical addy and full name and I can send it to her via Domesa.

            When you get geared up to send another package, lemme know. Those same producers (and others) are asking about green onion seed and carrot seed as well. I have no idea of the best “brands” for them yet, but I’ll find out if you can help. I really like the carrot idea as they’re a great source of vitamins for the kids.

            Take care my friend and keep little Crystal in your prayers. She’s been in the hospital so long that her dad drove her older brother and sister to visit her in Caracas to lift her spirits. Her brother started crying when he saw her because she’s lost so much weight he hardly recognized her. She was so tiny to begin with.

          • Just spoke with my woman who’s in Maturin caring for Crystal’s older brother and sister while her parents stay with her in Caracas. Her father said today that her doctor’s have told them to prepare for the worst.

            I can’t get her tiny face out of my mind. Thanks everyone for your support.

          • Oh God that is awful. I do believe in the power of prayers and I will keep praying for her. Words can’t express how bad I feel for what you and your family are going through.
            I copied your message and just e-mailed it to Vicky. She should see it tomorrow. I sent her your phone number. She lost all of the ones stored in the phone.
            The carrots are a good idea. I need guidance regarding what is the best variety. The open pollinated ones might be worth considering but the seed will take more work. If you have wild carrot (Queen Anne’s Lace) the second year carrots need to be covered and have a pollinator introduced to avoid crossing with wild carrot. It probably isn’t worth the effort. A soon as you know what kind you need, I will start looking for them. If your soil is heavy, the red cored Chantennay has worked well for me. We just need to know what will tolerate your heat.
            The green bunching onions should be easy. Are they long day and short day also?
            I can probably get some packagess to Maria again by the end of April if that works for you. I am still occupied with my relative on Long Island. Her cancer is progressing and honestly I’m amazed that she is still hanging on. I’m going to be back there all of next week at least.
            I held back antibiotics from the last shipment just in case it was lost I didn’t want to lose all of the medicine. I have one more for you and another for Vicky. I will make sure to include more triple antibiotic ointment also. Let me know what else you need and I will do my best to get it to you.
            I appreciate you offering to help Vicky with her phone. Especially with all the worry about Crystal. May God bless her and help her through this.
            Take care and best of luck.

          • Oh God that is awful. I do believe in the power of prayers and I will keep praying for her. Words can’t express how bad I feel for what you and your family are going through.
            I copied your message and just e-mailed it to Vicky. She should see it tomorrow. I sent her your phone number. She lost all of the ones stored in the phone.
            The carrots are a good idea. I need guidance regarding what is the best variety. The open pollinated ones might be worth considering but the seed will take more work. If you have wild carrot (Queen Anne’s Lace) the second year carrots need to be covered and have a pollinator introduced to avoid crossing with wild carrot. It probably isn’t worth the effort. A soon as you know what kind you need, I will start looking for them. If your soil is heavy, the red cored Chantennay has worked well for me. We just need to know what will tolerate your heat.
            The green bunching onions should be easy. Are they long day and short day also?
            I can probably get some packagess to Maria again by the end of April if that works for you. I am still occupied with my relative on Long Island. Her cancer is progressing and honestly I’m amazed that she is still hanging on. I’m going to be back there all of next week at least.
            I held back antibiotics from the last shipment just in case it was lost I didn’t want to lose all of the medicine. I have one more for you and another for Vicky. I will make sure to include more triple antibiotic ointment also. Let me know what else you need and I will do my best to get it to you.
            I appreciate you offering to help Vicky with her phone. Especially with all the worry about Crystal. May God bless her and help her through this.
            Take care and best of luck.
            I just tried to send this and got a page that said service error. If it is duplicated that is why.

  4. 7.6% of nothing is still nothing. Hopefully he ends up jailed without seeing a dollar. Selling out the future of his family/country, if he is lucky it will be in the US and not in Venezuela for his failure/ineptitude.

  5. Correct, I am not but that does not mean I am not willing to give him credit when I think it is do.

    Hope Crystal is doing better.

  6. Roy – Those shitheads – um, congresspeople – may be allowed to “hire” anyone they want, but Christ what an asshole if he hired this fuck nut privileged Venny thief’s kid over ANYONE in his own US district. It was clearly a favor to a donor. And, I’m not even getting to the “confidential info” part, which is 98% bullshit to cover their assess in any event.

    If I am misinformed and/or have assumed facts not in evidence, sorry to the shitheads.

  7. Padrino says the first step to opening a humanitarian channel is the lifting of sanctions against Venezuelan people and entities.
    In other words the people can starve if the regime can’t get to its ill gotten fortunes.
    http://www.caraotadigital.net/nacionales/la-condicion-que-puso-padrino-lopez-para-abrir-un-corredor-humanitario-en-venezuela/

    The “General” goes on to claim that a US C-17 violated Venezuelan airspace for the second time.
    I do hope that accusation is true. The C-17 is a big slow cargo plane. It wouldn’t be used for any type of recon. Airdrops of supplies to someone?
    In the article the “General” also claims that the army has been given One trillion Bolivars in loans and is being supplied additional food. How much is getting to the enlisted men is anyone’s guess. The regime is getting paranoid about the loyalty of the military if they are taking additional steps to buy their commitment to the regime. Desertions are reported to be very high. I can’t find any numbers.
    The one trillion Bolivars distributed equally to the 130,000 troops that Maduro claims are in the military, works out to about US $35 each at the current exchange. It doesn’t sound like enough to get killed over. These are also described as loans and I assume must be repaid.
    At some point the people in the military will have to realize that the obstacles between them and the waiting free food and medicine is the regime that they are protecting.
    The people that I have been helping need between $150 and $200 per month for a family to eke out an existence. The money going to the military is not going to last them long.

  8. “One trillion Bolivars in loans”? Not sure how much that is, but just wait a year to pay it back, and it will at most be about 39 cents.

    Yes, the bad guys will hold the population hostage in effort to get their booty back. And, sadly, a large percentage of the US population will believe that the US is in fact economically warring on the poor Venny people by the sanctions on a few dozen top thieves. No wonder this socialist paradise isn’t working – the US (and Canada, and Spain, and rest of Europe, and lizard people) wont let it.

    • The “information age” that we live in has produced more ill informed and ignorant people, especially in the realm of current events than we ever have had.
      Using food and medicine as weapons, coupled with a police state doesn’t generate the attention of the press that bombs and open warfare do.
      I don’t mean to dismiss the tragedies occurring in Yemen and Syria.
      Venezuela has tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of deaths, collapsing infrastructure that threatens power and water supplies, people suffering from lack of food and medicine and millions of refugees.
      The refusal of the authorities to open a humanitarian channel is exacerbating the problem.
      With the exceptions of the bombing and shelling this is the same thing.
      The fact that this is happening on our doorstep seems like it would be considered more important to the US media.
      Many people that praised the Venezuelan Socialist Revolution during the Chavez years are simply unable to admit that the seeds of corruption that are at the root of this humanitarian crisis were sown during his rule. Many people in Venezuela refuse to accept it.
      Without question Venezuela is the worst humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere. Most people that I have explained the magnitude of this crisis to have a vague attitude that things suck in Venezuela. They have very little knowledge of the ongoing and worsening conditions that the Venezuelan people are experiencing.

    • Oh, you read the Wiki[leaks] on Ileana? I kind of feel sorry for her, but my logic tells me it’s a lack of parenting. Mud-slinging isn’t my forte. She and her former Democrat husband did adopt two children, but unfortunately her adoption-orientation may have influenced her decision on the subject of the article today. Not that the Jimenez kid is going to make a success out of the Petro. At best, it seems he’s just made an ass out of himself.

    • And that’s like the 5th version of that “tech company” he’s tried to lead. First he claimed his start-up was sort of a marketing agency, then an inbound agency, then he became an enchufado wannabe so most of his team quit and he replaced it with people dumb enough to want to work with the regime.

  9. Completely raised under the values of the Robolution. What would you expect him to be? Twenty years from now, we may refer this as the “lost generation”.

  10. The kid conned his way into Ros-Lehtinen office. He was studying at Harvard and made an impression. That’s all. Happens all the time.

  11. In other words the people can starve if the regime can’t get to its ill gotten fortunes.
    —————

    It’s rather amazing that the “General” has said this on the international stage, if I correctly understand what the sanctions do – which is freeze the foreign assets of high ranking Chavistas, in addition to barring any transaction per new loans to PVSD, as well as prohibiting transactions involving the Petro.

    This, from the US Treasury Dep., runs down the sanctions: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Sanctions/Pages/faq_other.aspx#venezuela

    Perhaps Pedrino is flagging the sanctions against the oil company and the Petro, not the freezing of the Chavista’s burgled assets. There is no way any of the Chavista’s will ever get that money back. To do so, by law, requires the individuals to provide a paper trail, accounting and tax records etc for the means by which, say, a General in the military came into tens of millions of dollars. And we all know that ain’t gonna happen no how.

    So it’s hard to say that the General is earmarking the sanctions against frozen personal assets, as opposed to those against the oil company and the Petro etc.

  12. The kid is getting too much credit. He is just the face for a Russian government operation. More smoke and mirrors. See TIME exclusive today

  13. Padrino is scared. Regarding the kid, he’s overhyped. PETRO is really a Russian government operation. See TIME magazine exclusive today.

  14. Cryptocurrencies could be an effective form of skirting sanctions. Time reports that Russia floated the idea of creating a digital version of the ruble, but Russia’s central bank said it would risk destabilizing the ruble itself.

    “So Russia made its stronghold here in Venezuela,” Armando Armas, an opposition member of Venezuela’s parliament, the National Assembly told Time. “Now they are using Venezuela as a guinea pig for their experiment.”
    There is no risk of destabilizing the Bolivar. That is for sure.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here