Is Hugo Chavez Really Worth $2 Billion? Nope.

Disclaimer: My opinion about news is “If the newspaper calls your sister a whore, good luck proving you don’t have a sister!” I don’t really have an opinion about the Chavez regime. Annoying political comments will be ruthlessly censored.

What got me was this quote from The New York Times, of all places.

Chavez is reported to have amassed a fortune of 2 billion dollars. How could a man of the people have so much money if he was a common man? He wasn’t. He used his family, and his connections to create massive wealth for himself. Those in his inner circles will never have to rub elbows with commoners. Chavez was no different than any rich tyrant, whether the people loved him or not. Time for Venezuela to see who their leader really was and ask what did he really do for ME!!

It’s by “Chris from New York”, but it was in the first non-news block result I saw when I googled “new york times chavez death.”

A quick googling gets all sorts of similar results.

Free Republic
Yahoo Answers
Michelle Malkin

Now I realize none of these are reputable sources. But if you go through the comment pages on various news outlet, this claim surfaces again and again.

If you google “Chavez 2 Billion Dollars,” on the first two pages you get hits for both CBS News:

The d-bag tyrant who stole $2 BILLION from his staving destitute people is the “hero” of the despicable lunatic-left d-cRAT socialist extremists. “Pathetic” doesn’t begin to describe these scum-of-the-Earth.

and NBC News:.

@ Diplomat: Hey! Under Chavez things have become worse for the people of Venezuela which also has one of the highest ( if not the highest) murder rate in the world! Like all “worker’s paradise” set ups…..Chavez failed, and only the presence of oil as conduit for money kept his nation afloat. The mindless fools that followed Chavez want to be led. They even are saying…”Who will take care of us now?” Why? Because they have little or no ability to know how to take care of themselves….a condition Chavez ( and Obama) strongly encourage. Caracas is mostly a slum. Chavez personally pocketed 2 billion dollars from the people yet a poor, ignorant population in search of hope…..are easily led like sheep and saw Chavez as their shepherd….who was quick to shear them.

The claims on these sites are in the comments, at least. There are other examples, but I think now we get the point.

Paid commenters or rabid right wingers? I don’t know and don’t really care. But where does this unsourced “fact” come from?

The first major outlet to report this is The Drudge Report.

CLAIM: Chavez Had Amassed Private Fortune of $2 Billion… ^
From the March 05, 2013 23:13:21 GMT edition of the Drudge Report.

The Drudge Report’s source is the prestigious newsfromvenezuela.tumblr.com. Titled: Analyst estimates Chávez’s family fortune at around $2 billion, we get this wonderful excerpt:

Criminal Justice International Associates (CJIA), a risk assessment and global analysis firm in Miami, estimated in a recent report that the Chávez Frías family in Venezuela has “amassed a fortune” similar to that of the Castro brothers in Cuba.

According to Jerry Brewer, president of CJIA, “the personal fortune of the Castro brothers has been estimated at a combined value of around $2 billion.”

“The Chávez Frías family in Venezuela has amassed a fortune of a similar scale since the arrival of Chávez to the presidency in 1999,” said Brewer in an analysis published in their website.

Brewer said that Cuba is receiving about $5 billion per year from the Venezuelan treasury and in oil shipments and other resources.

“We believe that organized bolivarian criminal groups within the Chávez administration have subtracted around $100 billion out of the nearly $1 trillion in oil income made by PDVSA since 1999.”

Despite the appearance on the page of being a quote from somewhere else, the writing is, as far as I can tell, original. So the original news story broke on a tumblr in 2010. But wait, they give us the source of the report.

An organization with the venerable sounding name “Criminal Justice International Associates” must be reputable, right? We can just go straight to cjia.com or maybe cjia.org and get to the bottom of this.

cjia.com is a Chinese site that looks like it sells coffee.

cjia

A respected international think tank.

cjia.org is the Comercio Justo Imports Association. Their mission statement is:

The purpose of the society is to serve and assist the indigenous peoples of Central America by:

a.  Purchasing their products at equitable prices.

b.  Selling their products in Canada.

c.  Funding health, education and income generation projects in Central American from:

i. The profits from the sales of their products.
ii. Donations from the public.

These are not high profile organizations keeping the Criminal Justice International Associates from their natural domain. After some intensive googling, we find http://www.cjiausa.org/.

This website looks like spam, and that’s honestly what I thought it was at first. But it’s not, and it has an Easter Egg! At the bottom of the page there is site access that’s been given the same color as the background to hide it. Folks, this is bad security.

Screenshot from 2013-03-06 17:37:49

International Analytical Mastermind

As you can see, Jerry Brewer, CEO/President, is also the only contributor to this website.

He wrote an article in 2010 about the Chavez family’s wealth. This is the original source. of this claim that is popping up everywhere.

The offending segment:

Castro’s resource starved revolution has been nurtured generously by Hugo Chavez. The Castro brother’s personal wealth has been estimated as “combined — easily worth $2 billion.” The Chavez Frias family in Venezuela “has amassed wealth on a similar scale since Chavez’s presidency began in 1999.”

This is the source of this “fact.” An unsourced quotation on some guy’s personal website with a name that lends a veneer of respectability. I was hoping to uncover some vast conspiracy, but at the end it all came down to this. Just some random guy’s opinion.

His linkedin:

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jerry-brewer-sr/8/829/25b

Our super secret source.

Our super secret source.

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About deconstructionapplied

Writer, freelance editor. Former Occupier.
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3 Responses to Is Hugo Chavez Really Worth $2 Billion? Nope.

  1. Exodus2221 says:

    Very well done. Someone makes an uninformed comment and all of the mainstream media quotes it without checking the reliability of the source. It’s unbelievable how poor are media sources are.

  2. Pingback: Two Billion? | Blog & Mablog

  3. Dorie says:

    I can no longer imagine how my life was like back then when I had nothing but a typewriter and bulky eneoclypcdias 🙂 Who would have thought that just a decade later, the world wide web would be within reach? Thanks for the share, no one can really discount the fact that the internet has changed a lot of lives!  

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