In the midst of rampant impunity enjoyed by chavista honchos and corrupt tycoons, a U.S. federal prosecutor just indicted Venezuelan “businessman” Raúl Gorrín, on charges of corruption and money laundering, declaring him a fugitive of U.S. justice. Gorrín, who was barely known as that dude who bought Globovisión and turned it from the oppo Bastille to another self-censored outlet, is now rather famous or, should we say, infamous.
The indictment, and the plea deal of former treasurer Alejandro Andrade, the arrests of Gabriel Jiménez and Nervis Villalovos, and the indictments against bolichico Francisco Convit and former treasurer Claudia Díaz, brings a whiff of justice to a country deprived of it.
But who’s Gorrín? How did he end up in this pickle?
According to his website, he was born in Caracas to a working class family. He wanted to study aeronautical engineering in Venezuela’s Army college but couldn’t afford it, so he went to law school instead, at Universidad Santa María, where he was inspired to become an entrepreneur by Rousseau and self-help guru Paulo Coelho. He then became a criminal lawyer.
It’s not clear how Gorrín went from a criminal lawyer to a criminal, but according to the indictment, he paid hundreds of millions of dollars to Andrade and other officials to get dollars at the preferential rate.
It’s not clear how Gorrín went from a criminal lawyer to a criminal lawyer, but according to the indictment, he paid hundreds of millions of dollars to Andrade and other officials to get dollars at the preferential rate, laundering it all in South Florida. In 2009, he acquired Seguros La Vitalicia, a small insurance company, with Juan Domingo Cordero.
Then, notably, he bought the Globovisión TV news network, in 2013.
Globovisión had been opposition-minded — often hyperbolically so. After Gorrín, several journalists were fired and the network turned into a self-censored space. Word is, he only served as a frontman in this transaction for some government honcho to slowly and quietly shut Globovisión up.
Gorrín was one of the poster boys for the nouveau riche during the Chávez era. His website, public foundation and social media reveal an almost desperate desire for respectability. He did manage to lure several journalists and politicians into his orbit, getting recently photographed with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence. He was apparently obsessed with cleaning his image by brokering a dialogue between the government and the opposition.
As usual, the government pretends the indictment didn’t happen, and unlike the case of Alejandro Andrade, who had his bank accounts at Banco de Venezuela frozen, there’s no pending investigation against Gorrín. Globovisión remains hushed, and prefers to focus on degrading our public discourse even further.
Gorrín was one of the poster boys for the nouveau riche during the Chávez era.
Gorrín’s indictment is a reminder of several things. First, the perverse nature of currency exchange controls and how they foster rampant corruption and waste. His case also tells us how the government uses illegal transactions, probably with public funds, to shamelessly buy out dissident media—Últimas Noticias and El Universal being other examples. It’s also sad proof of the power to buy respectability among certain Venezuelan circles—even in the opposition.
More importantly, it’s a reminder that, thanks to the U.S. Department of Justice, Venezuelans can get payback for the looting of our country. Many of those who profited from chavismo’s disaster can’t sleep at night and are only safe if they—like Gorrín—stay in the broken country they helped destroy.
I don’t know about you, but I’m in the mood for some dulce de lechosa.
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