Photo: Noticia Actual

Last month (April 12, to be exact), something triggered the series of abuses called “Manos de Papel”: the criminal apprehension of Carlos Marrón, owner of, a webpage dedicated to the black market price of the exchange rate Bs-USD. Who is he and why, out of the blue, did he appear as a high profile criminal in chavismo’s radar, when he was just another face in the crowd before this financial mess?

Lawyer and resident of the United States for some years now, his website was one of 12 that became popular between February and March this year, when the economic decline of Venezuela took a leap forward and the popular exchange rate went from 200.000 BsF to 600.000 BsF and more. Apparently, the regime could no longer blame everything on the intangible “economic war”, and with DolarToday failing, there had to be other culprits.

Tarek William Saab appeared on VTV and screamed to high heavens that the ones to blame for the widespread impoverishment were the owners of black-market dollar pages, and they had to be jailed.

Just a detail: they were not in Venezuela.

Apparently, the regime could no longer blame everything on the intangible “economic war”, and with DolarToday failing, there had to be other culprits.

This is where kidnapping became a government strategy. It began when, “allegedly” (and I use this word lightly), on Tuesday, April 10, members of the DGCIM forcibly pushed Carlos’ father inside a car in Valle Arriba when he was having a morning walk. Communications between him and his family immediately stopped. Imagine for a second how it is to have a loved one vanishing from the face of the Earth until you get a call from somebody acting as a common criminal, extorting you for your father’s life. That’s what happened to Carlos, who had to come to Venezuela to pay in person. He took a flight to Caracas the next day.

Now, when he mentioned this to his family back home, Irene Colmenares, his mother and wife of the kidnapped, went to the Anti Extortion and Kidnapping Division of the CICPC, asking for help. They instead kept her locked for eight hours.

Once Carlos reached Maiquetía, a group of DGCIM officers were waiting for him with an arrest warrant signed by Maikel Moreno. First, he was labeled a “financial terrorist” (because the information he offered through his page was illegal), then Tarek William Saab publicly said that the crimes he was guilty of (because you are guilty until proven innocent) were “spreading false information” (according to the Law of Currency Exchange), money laundering, conspiracy to commit a crime and financing terrorism. Cynicism came not long after, when Saab threatened that “whoever does any action to raise the price of the unofficial exchange rate as they see fit, will get the full weight of the law”, when it’s no secret that the biggest winner from this is the regime itself.

Imagine to have a loved one vanishing from the face of the Earth until you get a call from somebody acting as a common criminal, extorting you for their life.

Not only was the “capture” quick, the trial was fast, according to a relative’s statement, and Marrón was thrown in jail. There’s no official statement on the matter and there probably won’t be one, since in Venezuela, more than sentences, political prisoners have owners. Marrón is considered Saab’s property, and Saab decides the sentence, the fine and the place of reclusion. What Marrón did, he says, is no different than being a kidnapper or a serial murderer, since folks like him are responsible for the costs of medicines, food, air tickets and clothing, and the vow is to follow up on those who shared these exchange rates on their social networks anywhere. It’s funny, though, how Saab says Marrón is an international criminal requested by Venezuela to the Interpol, yet, if you introduce his full name in their webpage, no results are found.

This was not an isolated case, and its repercussions rippled both internally and externally. Several pages ceased their operations, while many others continue to work. Thing is, many Venezuelans outside our borders work with exchange offices that depend on these companies to do their job and send money to family members inside the nation, Giros del Sur and Remesas Activas are a couple of examples. As soon as Saab mentioned his measures, they started returning whatever they received to their original owners. Two weeks later, after the government moved to other targets, these exchange offices began operating anew but many Venezuelans failed to receive their small breath of fresh air to ease their financial troubles.

Today, we face a government who’s using the SEBIN and DGCIM to take people from their beds at three in the morning, execute insurgents on live TV and kidnap innocent bystanders with the sole purpose of shifting blame and attention from the issues that really plague Venezuela. The international community has to realize that they are dealing with a regime that’s not above hurting innocents to get what they want, and now, any Venezuelan deemed a target of chavismo can be reached through something sacred: your family.

We can’t allow them to taint this for us.

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


  1. I am at a loss.

    The person pictured above is clearly some sort of government/quasi-military enforcement agent, working in an urban setting in his own country… wearing a full-face skull mask? The purpose being to intimidate and frighten the citizenry of your own country? I am floored.

    I am ex Army. The above is absolutely unprofessional, and such a person should be busted and court-martialed. As should his superior for allowing such a stupid thing. While similar masks are sported by SOME foreign military forces (Russia), they are very much frowned upon as clownish and UNPROFESSIONAL on a soldier of any rank*. It isn’t a video game. It isn’t a Tom Clancy novel. I know that if a US combat soldier saw an enemy wearing such attire, that guy would be the FIRST to get harvested, and that idiot mask would be taken as a trophy.

    God, what buffoons the Chavistas are.

    *On the internet, you might find some pictures of blast shields with some artwork on them, or US soldiers posing in them while not on duty, but never in a situation where the public would see such an embarrassing thing. TOTAL FUCKING EMBARRASSMENT.

    • That’s because such attires would be more effective at leaving a lifelong trauma on the population when they come to kidnap and murder members of their families as they did in the infamous OLPs (Obliteration of the Low People)

      “Security agents reportedly carried out mass detentions indiscriminately and without presenting warrants, sometimes pulling people out of their homes when they were sleeping, according to residents.”

    • Actually each unit has it’s own rules in the US military regarding that practice. Who really cares if they are wearing skull masks if they are just there to terrorize civilians anyways.(I mean the US military and the DGCIM) because US troops do not fight for our freedoms now do they.

      • Uh, no. Each unit definitely does NOT have their own rules. Part of being in the US military means you are part of the whole. Wearing a Halloween-type mask isn’t part of ANY US military uniform.

        Wearing such a mask as uniform is akin to wearing a beanie with a whirling propeller on top. It is infantile and an embarrassment.

        Do not equate a professional military to these morons.

  2. You can tell how damaging a posting is to the regime by how active the trolls are in the comments section. Based on the above flurry of nonsense “comments”, I would say that Daniel Andrade just hit a grand slam homerun with this post.

  3. In combat, what purpose would that mask serve?

    It’s not bullet-proof, right? And would hamper vision, breathing and mobility.

    Plus provide a nice target.

    • I imagine a whole lot of wanna-be quasi military ass-clowns out there have played various first person shooters like Medal of Honor/Call of Duty video games where if they kill enough computer generated “enemies” they get to dress their player in all sorts of silly things.

      My son plays some golf games on the PlayStation, and his avatar is a guy in a space suit. I imagine there are opportunities to wear a chicken suit too. I wonder if that is what is next for the Chavistas?

      • My neighbor is big into paintball. He has some VERY awesome artwork on some of his masks. His most recent mask is Pennywise from the movie IT. There is some real artistic talent out there, and a market for such things.

        Just not in the US military.

        My own helmet (US Army aviator) has a small bit of artwork on it. All of it had to be approved ahead of time. Things may have changed in the last 12 years, but I doubt very much that they would let stuff like Totenkopfs to be painted on them. (Too German?)

        • I think it would be cool if they stuck one of these masks on Delcey during her hanging.

          Can’t do it for Maduro:

          His head is too fat and it wouldn’t fit.

  4. So trolls (or their masters) are sore at their targets being able to comment on the events …and need to block those comment , wonder why that should be so important to them …….havent they won a ‘glorious’ victory or …..maybe they are not too convinced of that victory and feel that any contrary comment reveals the truth of their failure ……!! I suspect the latter…they havent got anything more useful to troll …….??

  5. I have sent a request to CC urging them to address this ridiculousness and requested a reply by email. It has been three hours but no reply yet. I hope to hear from them soon.

  6. For what I can research (in 5 minutes, is not like I’m not working), that is a photo of some DGCIM guys doing one of the infamous OLP thing a year ago, that decided it was fun, or was decided for him by his boss maybe becuase it was not just 1, to go into “action” with that idiocy in his face.

    Officially, they just wear a black balaclava.

    But hey, what is the fun in being part of a dictatorship if you dont get to act like an irresponsible cretin that doenst have any of the dignity required for being a public servant… because you arent, they are no public servants anymore, is all public overlords.

  7. Is it just me who noticed that Maduro was given over 6 million votes and Falcon and Bertucci came short of making a round number? (2 million and 1 million respectively) I do not think that is by coincidence.

  8. I saw it. I believe it to be fake. It is too inflammatory, even for the regime.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t put it past them to insert it into the social media, just to leave people wondering.

    • I’m gonna ask this same question in other future threads, so please forgive me if you think I’m being repetitive:

      At what point do they forbid emigration, a la Cuba? Because after all, haven’t they been doing that in effect? With their dysfunctional passport system?

      This is going to be an interesting dynamic to watch, where emigre wanna-be’s can’t not only find a place that may accept them, but they can’t even get on the road, bus or fucking plane because they can’t get a fucking passport to enter.

      I’m interested in how host countries deal with this aspect of it. Especially LatAm countries.

  9. @ real Marc, not a good idea for anyone to post their email address on here. Their inbox would probably get trashed….or worse. Can you copy and paste it?

  10. IF (and this is a bit IF) this comunique is actually official policy, it would contravene more international accords than I can count. It would basically disenfranchise 80% of the population and leave 24 million people stateless and forced to immigrate or die!

    If this is not just an internet prank, then it is probably a regime temper tantrum that will be soon forgotten.

    • “IF (and this is a bit IF) this comunique is actually official policy, it would contravene more international accords than I can count. It would basically disenfranchise 80% of the population and leave 24 million people stateless and forced to immigrate or die!”

      To this statement Maduro would say:”So, what you are going to do about it?”, and laugh in your face while puffing on a Cuban cigar.

      Deal with it, it’s been year since they are past any niceties.

  11. @The Real Marc..I have no idea what your situation is but I would give some very serious consideration to getting the hell out of Dodge while the getting is good. Soon you may not have that option.

  12. Maduro may learn a thing or two from Robespierre before being too harsh on his revolutionary confreres:

    This law permitted the execution of citizens thought to be counter-revolutionaries, even under simple suspicion and without extensive trials. When the Committee of Public Safety allowed the law to be passed, the Convention began to question it out of fear that Robespierre and his allies might come after certain members of the Convention, and even the Committee itself, due to the excesses carried out by its representatives..

    When clearing Robespierre’s neck, the executioner tore off the bandage that was holding his shattered jaw in place, causing Robespierre to produce an agonised scream until the fall of the blade silenced him

  13. @ Roy, yes this could be a prank but it could also be that Maduro now feels confident enough to show the real face of the beast. It may be that he no longer feels he even has to pretend to be a civilized human being.

  14. Maduro just gave Todd Robinson 48 hours to leave the country. I assume the entire US consulate (embassy-lite) will be shut down. Mad Ernie not happy with the additional sanctions. Someone must have explained to him that the oil money spigot is getting shut off.

    • To have embassy personnel or ambassadors declared Persona Non Grata (PNG’d) is not all that uncommon in the foreign service. It is often a badge of honor to have been PNG’d.

      The embassy will continue funcioning as before, under the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) who is the one who does most of the real work anyway. I doubt that this particular ambassador will be missed much anyway. He seemed like a bit of a clown to me, with his incessant tweeting about pure nonsense.

      • I spoke too soon. They PNG’d the DCM too. But, I am sure the State Department will send a replacement for him quickly. Venezuela is too critical to leave without senior leadership. And they will not shut anything down. It’ll be business as usual.

  15. ¿Los miembros de la DGCIM no tienen familias? Si el DGCIM escribe el libro de reglas, deberían estar muy preocupados.

    • Deberían recordar lo que le pasó a los esbirros de la seguridad nacional el 23 de enero del 58 y tener dos neuronas funcionales para saber que la gente no va a ser un montón de viejas indefensas para siempre.

  16. I just got a reply from CC that their IT is working to get a troll filter in place to address the troll infestation. I hope it doesn’t take long!

  17. @ Roy…I want one too. I am sure they are probably just blocking troublesome IP addresses. Trolls being trolls they will find a way around it.

      • There’s a way to block the whole ISP, 4chan did it after some chabizta pieces of garbage went and trolled the place posting a bunch of pedophile porn photos.

  18. How come my punto fijo protest comment keeps getting deleted? 4 times now…I post it, it shows up and then gets deleted….whats up?

  19. Trying 1 more time…sigh…

    Punto Fijo finally got off their asses for the first time in history and are MASSIVELY protesting. I’m watching videos right now(between interruptions in the internet, fricken brutal today), looks like shit loads of people to me.

  20. Oh all my posts got deleted…isn’t that interesting. Well now that cut down on quite a bit of content in the comments section here….

  21. @ the real Marc, it seems that because the troll stole your user name today and used it many times, your post concerning the government communique you posted was inadvertently deleted when CC cleaned up this thread, Any chance you could repost that?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Fuck no that are gone forever…now that was pretty clumsy on their part wasn’t it? They can’t tell the difference between a real post and a nonsense post? Hmmmm Maybe you should ask them to put them back up Tom, they seem to like you better!

  22. Don’t think they like me better I just think they got tired of me bitching about the troll infestation! Lol. Well if it’s gone then it’s gone….thanks anyway and good luck to you!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here