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Exiled mayor says Hezbollah, other groups will oversee Venezuelan regional elections

Published: Updated:

Hezbollah will oversee elections for state governors in Venezuela, a “den” for terrorist groups, according to exiled former mayor of the capital Caracas.

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Antonio Ledezma, who fled house arrest in 2017 and now resides in Spain, tweeted his claims on Sunday.

He said: “The heads of the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], ELN [National Liberation Army of Colombia] and Hezbolac [sic] will be the ‘international observers’ that Maduro will authorize to supervise his regional elections,” referring to the Iran-backed terrorist group alongside Colombian rebel forces.

“It is more than proven that Venezuela, unfortunately, is the den of these mafias,” Ledezma added, “and in the US and in Europe they know it.”

The tweets were in response to President Nicolas Maduro’s invitation to international groups including the European Union (EU) to attend regional elections to be held on an undisclosed date this year, as reported by Venezuelan daily El Nacional.

The EU responded by saying it was willing to “support an inclusive process” that ensures transparent elections.

Iran maintains a presence in the politically turbulent South American nation, with close ties to drug cartels through Hezbollah, according to a report by Business Insider. That 2015 report said that narcotic drug sales in Iran had totaled $3 billion, highlighting statistics released by the country’s interior minister – although this was largely through smuggling across borders with neighbors Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Ledezma’s tweets are not the first time that claims of kinship between the dictatorial Maduro government and the terrorist Hezbollah have been made by the president’s opponents.

In January 2019 opposition lawmaker Américo De Grazia claimed that Hezbollah controlled several gold mines in the country, which has one of the largest reserves of the precious metal in the world.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a 2019 interview with Fox News said that Hezbollah has “active cells” in Venezuela.

“The Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America,” he said.

“We have an obligation to take down that risk for America,” he added.

Venezuela is home to the world’s largest oil reserves, but a political, economic, and social crisis has brought ruin on its citizens. The US and a coalition of nearly 60 countries have pressed on Maduro to stand down, with many recognizing opposition politician Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

Around 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled the country in recent years, crossing into neighboring states, including Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador, while the country’s public services, such as electricity and running water, fail.

With Reuters and AP

Read more:

Hezbollah has active cells in Venezuela, says Pompeo in TV interview

Hezbollah supporter, US fugitive Tareck El Aissami appointed Venezuelan oil minister

‘Hezbollah exploiting gold mines in Venezuela,’ politician reveals