Chavista regime arrests a deputy minister close to Tareck el Assami for corruption

Pedro Maldonado, president of the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana, was arrested along with Néstor Astudillo, president of Sidor (Orinoco Steel Company).

Pedro Maldonado is considered by Venezuelan analysts to be the right-hand man of Tareck el Aissami, Venezuela's former minister of petroleum and one of the government's influential figures. El Aissami resigned just two weeks ago to make way for the operation Caiga Quien Caiga (fall who falls) launched by President Nicolás Maduro against corruption in the upper echelons of power. Maldonado, president of Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG), fell victim to this operation last Thursday. He is a noted friend and close collaborator of el Aissami, who is of Syrian and Lebanese origin. It is not clear if he has been arrested for corruption or, precisely, for association with el Aissami. Néstor Astudillo, president of Orinoco Steel Company (Sidor), and four others whose identities have not yet been disclosed, were also arrested.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his second in command, Diosdado Cabello, speak almost daily with great pride about Caiga Quien Caiga. They have warned that no one who has committed a crime will be spared. For Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, dozens of lawsuits, investigations and international sanctions for corruption, money laundering and drug trafficking cases are pending.

There have already been more than 25 arrests, and practically all of them from el Aissami's entourage. As the arrests continue, rumors are growing about el Aissami’s whereabouts. Last Wednesday, another repentant Chavista, former Governor Rafael Isea, assured that he was arrested in Fuerte Tiuna, the large military and housing complex where the headquarters of the most important government agencies are located. However, there has been no official statement on the matter, despite the fact that he has not been seen in public for many days.

Pedro Maldonado has a law degree from Universidad de Los Andes. Tareck el Aissami, who as minister of the interior and justice appointed the former as director of human resources and head of registries and notaries, a very important position for Chavismo, since it allowed them to know about the purchase and sale of all assets property of Venezuelan citizens. Through this inside position, much information was obtained about those who did not sympathize with the regime. When el Aissami became vice president, he appointed Maldonado as president of the Central Bank of Venezuela. Astudillo, meanwhile, became president of Sidor in February 2020. An engineer by trade, he was also responsible for the Ferresidor network of socialist hardware stores.