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Where is Tarek El Aissami?Venezuela’s almighty oil czar missing for nearly a year

Next March will mark the first anniversary of the PDVSA cryptocurrency scandal, the last fraud against the country during the Chavismo era, which led to the death of Tarek El Aissami, Vice President for the Economic Area and Minister of Energy and Petroleum. (Tareck El Aissami) stepped down. We know nothing about former Plenipotentiary El-Aissami. Or almost nothing. Opposition politicians and activists on social media have intermittently wondered about his whereabouts and called for justice, criticizing the shocking official silence on his case. It’s unclear whether he has been charged. There is no word yet on his legal status. He has yet to testify and has not been seen again. The attorney general did not mention the matter again. In PSUV, this issue is forgotten. The revolutionary leadership avoided mentioning him personally. El Aissami appears to be swallowed up by the earth.

A multimillion-dollar corruption scheme that diverted revenue from PDVSA during international sanctions has been dismantled – with property losses estimated at more than $21 billion – and its members, including officials very important to management, were indicted. Governments such as Pedro Maldonado, Jugueber Roa or Hugo Cabezas have had important responsibilities since the days of Hugo Chávez. A total of 40 civilian and military officials, some of them important and powerful figures, who were personally and politically close to Aissami were also humiliated and brought down.

According to people familiar with the matter, El Aissami, a vegetarian, lost more than ten kilograms during this period. Some well-founded news editions printed leaks from the depths of Chavismo and reported that El Aissami was in semi-residential confinement, that is, under house arrest in Conejo, Fuerte Tiuna, a castle built in recent years for the ruling elite. Blanco area, this is the most important military square in Caracas. Additionally, there has been constant speculation about Aissami’s health both before and after his public disappearance. Aissami is a criminal lawyer, a graduate of the University of Los Andes, and the son of Baathist, nationalist Syrian immigrants.

Versions of cancer treatment, treatability and timely detection are circulating on social networks, which affects his performance at the end of 2022. The political leader himself denied this while in office. But now he couldn’t deny it anymore. There was silence.

El said: “In light of the investigation into serious corruption at Petroleos de Venezuela, I have decided to resign as Minister of Oil with the aim of supporting, accompanying and fully supporting this process.” El Aissami made his last public statement in March 2023 , shortly after the opening of an investigation ordered by the Miraflores Palace, the president’s official residence, a series of people close to him began to be arrested.

Some people have since commented that the reason for Aissami’s resignation may also be political. Despite the controversy, many insiders in Venezuela believe this version to be true. Maduro himself has mentioned in one of his television broadcasts, without naming him, about the existence of a group of people who are working secretly to replace him in power.

“I never believed that,” said Carmen Beatriz Fernández, a scholar, consultant and political analyst at the University of Navarra and Simon Bolivar University. “In my opinion, the issue between El Aissami and Maduro has always been about money and business. Maduro needs cash to face electoral challenges and Al Aissami doesn’t know how to explain to him, there is a piece missing, there is no Money’s campaign is a rebuke. “I think that’s how it goes. “

When the PDVSA-Crypto case was revealed, it wasn’t long before several videos from Maduro’s TV show became available on social networks, in which he impatiently summoned El Aissami in front of other members of the cabinet to address He informed about the collection of cryptocurrencies. PDVSA accounts, and the progress of Statoil’s cash flow.

“It is not easy to analyze the El Aissami case, it has few visible elements. There is controversy as to whether there was a power struggle, or whether the difference with Maduro was due to monetary losses. It is a rather mysterious and very opaque case. The internal power structure of the Chavista government remains intact,” commented Luis Salamanca, a PhD in political science at the Central University of Venezuela.

In general, government ministers and representatives avoided talking about the Aissami case. Sometimes, some of them have to use allusions and sophistry to evade problems. “I know nothing about Aissami or his whereabouts,” Jesús Faria, a representative of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, declared evasively on an opinion program a few weeks ago. “His possible prosecution is a task for the prosecutor’s office and the security agencies,” he added.

“This case shows how far Chavista factions can go in their internal struggles,” said consultant and political analyst Luis Peche Artega. “There are two people on trial in this scandal. died in a coup, with little mention of it. About the advantages of Maduro’s leadership, it sent a very clear message to other players in Chavismo. A year ago, there were rumors about the alternative leader, potential There was talk of a replacement, but that’s over. A very clear message has been sent here.”

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