President Nicolàs Maduro of Venezuela has become the latest Latin American leader implicated in the Odebrecht bribery scheme, the New York Times reported last Thursday.
In a leaked video published on the blog of Luisa Ortega, Venezuela’s ousted attorney general, Euzenando Prazeres de Azevedo a manager of Odebrecht’s Venuzela arm, says that a representative of Maduro asked him for “a large sum” during Maduro’s 2013 presidential campaign. “He asked for 50, I accepted to pay him 35 million,” Azevedo admits in the video, which was filmed by Brazilian prosecutors last December.
Two days after releasing the initial video, Ortega posted a second video on her blog in which Azevedo claims that, from 2004 to 2013, Odebrecht contributed extensively to Venezuelan political campaigns at the federal, state, and municipal levels. “We were always looking to contribute to these campaigns, and we contributed to many of them, specifically in those states and the municipalities where we had projects,” Azevedo says in the video.
Ortega released the second video on the eve of Venezuela’s gubernatorial elections. Despite polls predicting an opposition victory, Maduro’s Socialist Party won 17 governorships, while the rival Democratic Unity coalition captured only five. Maduro’s alleged involvement in the Odebrecht bribery scheme has thus far gone unreported in the Venezuelan state media.