According to a recent in-depth investigation by CNN, the Venezuelan embassy in Baghdad, Iraq has been selling passports for top dollar, potentially to criminals and terrorists.
The investigation went on for a year, where the Venezuelan government was issuing visas and passports to suspicious individuals.
“The investigation involved reviewing thousands of documents, and conducting interviews in the U.S., Spain, Venezuela and the United Kingdom,” writes CNN. “One confidential intelligence document obtained by CNN links Venezuela’s new Vice President Tareck El Aissami to 173 Venezuelan passports and ID’s that were issued to individuals from the Middle East, including people connected to the terrorist group Hezbollah.”
Allegedly, this all started when Hugo Chavez, who also introduced socialism to the country, was president. A Venezuelan passport offers passage to more than 130 countries without having an active visa, including 26 countries in the E.U.
Fortunately, this doesn’t include the U.S., since a visa is required to enter the country.
CNN‘s main source is the former legal adviser to the Venezuelan Embassy in Iraq, who went on the record to say that the embassy did in fact sell passports and visas and he has the evidence to prove it.
“Over the course of the CNN investigation, Lopez provided documents that show he repeatedly told Venezuelan officials about what he discovered. But he said instead of investigating his allegations, the government targeted him for disclosing confidential information. U.S. officials were also made aware of his findings,” writes CNN.
Lopez knew he had to do the right thing after seeing some of the suspicious activity.
“You cannot be a cop, and a thief at the same time,” said Lopez. “I decided to be a cop and do the right thing.”
His first day was back in July 2013 and his new boss, Venezuelan Ambassador Jonathan Velasco didn’t waste any time introducing Lopez to the corruption.
“He gave me an envelope full of visas and passports,” said Lopez. “He told me, ‘Get this, this is one million U.S. dollars.’ I thought it was like a joke. Then he told me here people pay a lot of money to get a visa or a passport to leave this country.”
Lopez was consistently bombarded with employees offering him a cut from selling the travel documents, but he knew that they were landing in the wrong hands.
“I suspect that they might be terrorists,” said Lopez. “That’s why I object, of course, immediately.”
The embassy attempted to hide this by issuing the passports in Hispanic names.
“CNN‘s year long investigation found a list of containing 21 Arabic names of people who had been issued authentic passports — but a further check in another Venezuelan database found they were assigned to “people with Hispanic names,” writes Newsmax.
Lopez tried to report the illegal activity and offered significant evidence to Ambassador Velasco, who only threatened to fire him. Then he wrote to Delcy Rodriguez, Venezuela’s foreign minister, who also never responded.
“By the end of 2015, the Venezuelan government accused Lopez of “abandoning his post” and removed him. A police official showed up at his home in Venezuela with a document that said he was under investigation for revealing “confidential documents or secrets,” writes CNN.
But, the Venezuelan government is still denying his claims.
“This embassy is ready open to be audit [sic] and investigated for any international organization and intelligent [sic] Services as well, I don’t have nothing to hide or fear. I be sure [sic] that under my duties this embassy don’t never [sic] and ever sell Venezuelan nationalities, this will be a joke for all the international security organization [sic] and we already cooperate with the (Iraqi) government and international intelligent [sic] service,” wrote Velasco in an email to CNN.
However, other former officials, like General Marco Ferreira, who was the head of Venezuela’s immigration office in 2002, back Lopez’s claims.
“He told CNN that he personally witnessed corrupt senior officials ordering passports for people who were not citizens when he was running the department. He added anyone could get a passport at a local office because each worked independently,” writes CNN.
Although Lopez is living in Spain, he knows his safety is still an issue.
“I’m concerned about my safety and my family’s safety everywhere I go,” said Lopez to CNN. “I did the right thing and I’m proud it. No regrets at all.”
Author’s note: This is just another prime example of how corrupt Venezuela is. The more socialist the country becomes, the more the government loses sight of its moral obligations. It is just becoming a haven for terrorists, who are feeding off of the chaos.
The sad thing is the country could be one of the richest in Latin America due to its oil reserves. But, President Maduro refuses to make the much needed drastic changes to improve the dysfunctional economy. So, the country continues to destroy itself.