Venezuelan freedom fighter & coordinator of the Office of the Interim President Juan Guaido
Jesús González, a computer engineer and representative of the Venezuelan opposition, will share their experiences of allocating Venezuelan frozen funds in the United States via stablecoins under the “Heroes de la salud” project to more than 60,000 workers in the health sector during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many members of the Interim Government of Venezuela are subject to de-risking in EU countries because of trumped-up accusations by the Maduro regime, as well as their use of stablecoins for humanitarian aid.
Testimonial of Jesús González:
“I have been an opponent of the dictatorship of Chavez and Maduro for at least the last 15 years. Since 2019, I am also a member of the Interim Government of Venezuela headed by president Juan Guaido. Our Interim Government is recognized as legitimate by the international community.
The Venezuelan opposition wanted to use the Venezuela funds frozen in the US to provide direct financial help to activists, members of the opposition as well as to finance important social programs in Venezuela. We have managed to do it with the full support of the US government.
In 2020, during the pandemic, we implemented a program “Heroes de la Salud” that allowed us to convert designated US funds into stablecoins and via a direct fund transfer platform sent them to over 68 thousand health workers in Venezuela. How did we do it?
First, we needed to deal with the regulatory issues in the US. As I said, we agreed with the US government to use some funds of Venezuela frozen by the United States to help health workers, nurses and doctors. We had to comply with a number of legal and institutional requirements in order to obtain an OFAC licence for the use of the funds as we had proposed.
Second, we needed to find a way to transfer money to Venezuela. The banking system in Venezuela is controlled by the dictatorship. So, we needed to find a direct, decentralised, and secure mechanism to transfer money directly to the health workers. It was important to protect the identity of the beneficiaries of the program in order to avoid the regime’s reprisals against them. We identified a US registered fiat-stablecoins payment platform. The platform used a P2P (peer-to-peer) decentralised payment model. We created a website that we linked to the payment platform. All beneficiaries of our program needed to go to the website and register in order to be qualified for the program. They had to register and submit required documents to prove the work they performed. We did the registration and verification of the beneficiaries of the program according to the parameters developed together with the US government.
Third, the information about the program and the website for the registration we circulated mainly via direct mass emails to email addresses on our mailing lists that we had prepared in advance.
So, through this program, we allocated approximately 20 million USD in stablecoins to over 68 thousand health workers. Each participant in our program received the equivalent of 100 USD in three equal tranches that they could withdraw in local currency if necessary.
We worked hand in hand with the United States government to implement this program, and after successfully completing it, we replicated the payment mechanism with frozen funds via digital platforms and stablecoins to all areas of the Interim Government. That allowed us to continue operating to fight for freedom of our country without putting our personal security at risk. Currently, around 20,000 monthly secure payments have been made through this mechanism in Venezuela, both for the benefit of interim government officials and for NGO and civil society initiatives. The mechanism works and is scalable. We have used it for many other programs, financed not only by the US government but also by European governments, such as Germany.
This mechanism also allows us to overcome some obstacles that have been imposed on us by the international financial system just for being defenders of human rights and freedom.
As human rights defenders and members of the opposition, like Leopoldo López, well-known pro-democracy activist and Sakharov prize laureate, we routinely face probIems with bank compliance in the EU. Many of my colleagues from Venezuela cannot even open a bank account in the EU as the banks do not want to deal with them. The banks prefer to de-risk and close our accounts and/or freeze our payments. I am relatively lucky, because in addition to the Venezuelan passport, I am a holder of Spanish citizenship. So, I am still can have a bank account in Spain, although I regularly have compliance problems with my bank.”