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DOSSIER | Yaracuy

Makled's payment bills

An anonymous book has turned the political agenda of Yaracuy state upside down. The 228 page book speaks of a shady story in which even Walid Makled is highlighted, but as it has happened in past occasions, no one wants to be related to him

JOSEPH POLISZUK |  EL UNIVERSAL
Saturday February 09, 2013  12:00 AM
Now, Yaracuy's current Governor is claimed to be involved in Walid Makled's entangled story. Several presumed bills have been inferring that Julio León Heredia became a governor through the monetary contribution provided by Makled's group. It is about three payment bills which went back and forth in e-mails and anonymous books since 2011, until they ended up at the General Attorney's Office, by means of a denunciation submitted by a foundation called "Ombudsman."

Certified with Makled's signature, the bills amount to a USD 2.9 million monetary contribution intended "for communication expenses in the election campaign of the PSUV candidate for the Governorship of Yaracuy state, Mr. Julio León Heredia."

If these documents are based on reality, at least a share of the first election campaign of León Heredia was backed up by a citizen, who has been accused of drug traffic and other crimes by the very Attorney General Office. That is what Robert Alvarado inferred in the denunciation submitted at the Public Prosecutor Office on September 18, 2012, on behalf of Ombudsman Foundation and, for the same reason, he requested an investigation into the case.

It is worth noting that he is not the only one who has called into question León Heredia's actions: far from the media and the daily political debate, Yaracuy local residents have hinted dangerous links inside the state government for a long time. A red-covered 288 page book filled with pictures, payment orders and business records of companies accused of corruption and nepotism, which appeared and suddenly vanished by the end of 2011, shocked many of the readers with its early accusations.

In the midst of such chains of denunciations, the book brought to light the presumed bills given to Makled by León Heredia's team as a support of his three donations: USD 744,053 on July 4, 2008 at the moment of the internal primary elections of the PSUV, USD 1.3 million on August 9, 2008 already as an official candidate of Chávez's team, and finally, USD 930,066 more on September 2, 2008.

The link

The middleman was the advertising advisor to the government palace; both his signature and Makled's affixed to the bills reveal their agreement. According to those papers, Makled provided the governor with money through businessman Eladio Pacheco, who appears in the National Contractors Registry as the CEO of Yaracuy's television production company "Páramo, Producciones y Eventos." (Páramo Productions and Events).

By means of Pacheco's TV cameras, the Governor has been appearing every Thursday at 8 pm on a local television channel with his TV program "Rindiendo cuentas" (Account Rendering). Another governor –precisely linked with Makled- also used to appear on TV through Pacheco's television producer company: Luis Felipe Acosta Carlez.

Emulating the TV program Aló Presidente (Hello, President!) conducted by President Hugo Chávez and broadcasted on Sundays, former Governor of Carabobo state was one of the first local rulers to launch his TV program "Aló mi pueblo"(Hello, my people!), precisely supported by Eladio Pacheco and another of the companies owned by him. It was one of those TV programs in which –a paradox of life- General Acosta Carlez introduced to Venezuela a not so familiar Makled as a socialist businessman, who accompanied him on air to make a USD 1.1 million donation for his governance.

Walid Makled was –by then- a businessman committed to the revolution, a patriot who lent his trucks to the Venezuelan government in 2002, in order to tackle the oil strike. Many political leaders attempted to jump on the bandwagon by getting close to him, and it is believed that the then President of the Legislative Council of Yaracuy State was one of those political leaders. "León Heredia contacted Acosta Carlez and requested his help in order to get that funding through Makled," the so-called red book indicates.

Since that moment, the help offered by Makled's team was provided to Yaracuy's electoral campaign. Since that episode, the political leader of the PSUV party, Julio León Heredia, and businessman Eladio Pacheco started working together on a project: the design of an electoral campaign filled with much press announcements and advertising on local radio stations and TV channels.

The doubts

The week of January 28 – February 3, unsuccessful attempts were made to contact businessman Eladio Pacheco in every company recorded as of his own at the National Contractors' Registry. It was not possible to personally ask him if he could recognize the documents which accuse him of having links with Makled and León Heredia.

It was neither possible to find León Heredia. Those in the state government explained that giving a clear opinion on this issue would be like bringing up again a thread of denunciations, which President Chávez's opponents sprinkled by the end of 2011 as sort of smear campaign against his reelection.

There is indeed someone who has been speaking of the subject: Deputy and former Governor of Yaracuy state, Juan José Caldera. He believes that there exists just one source for the files and the huge amount of details expressed in the so-called red book: from the very support group of Yaracuy's governor. "Is it true that Makled backed León Heredia by providing him with USD 2.9 million?" he wonders. "If it is false, why has the governor not publicly clarified it? And if it is true, what was going on between the two of them? How come Yaracuy's Governor was granted such great deal of money as a contribution to his election campaign?"

The leader of opposition Convergencia party (Democratic Convergence) believes that the National Assembly did take time to watch the video in which Deputy Juan Carlos Caldera is seen getting USD 9,300 in cash. Therefore, the public powers of Yaracuy and Venezuela, on the whole, cannot overlook a denunciation intended to find out whether León Heredia received almost USD 3 million, in order to set up the election campaign of a state of less than 700,000 inhabitants.

"It is thought that the book was recalled by local authorities in order to silence the serious accusations expressed in it and which have not been investigated," Caldera asserts. "Personally, I am not qualified to certify the veracity of the denunciations expressed in the book, but there is no doubt whatsoever that these denunciations constitute notitia criminis and ought to be investigated by the authorities."

jpoliszuk@eluniversal.com

Translated by Adrián Valera Villani
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