Over the course of an entire day, Venezuelan coup leader Ricardo Hausmann melted down on WhatsApp after I confronted him about his hypocritical financial dealings and opacity. Hausmann has accepted speaking fees from repressive governments like Saudi Arabia while slamming banks that did business in Venezuela.
By Anya Parampil
At 3:31 AM on September 1, Venezuelan coup official Ricardo Hausmann fired off a message on WhatsApp demanding to see “one article” in which I “questioned or criticized any of Maduro’s crimes and errors.”
The text was part of a prolonged diatribe in which the Harvard professor of economics lobbed multiple ad-hominem attacks and a demand I “go to hell.”
Hausmann’s meltdown, which can be seen below, was prompted by questions I sent the economist concerning his and his coup colleagues’ lack of transparency.
On August 31, I exposed Hausmann’s hypocritical financial past, revealing he accepted speaking fees from repressive governments like Israel and Saudi Arabia, while criticizing banks for doing business with Venezuela’s elected government. I also raised questions about Hausmann’s private consulting firm, questioning why the economist failed to disclose his clients now that he claims to represent Guaidó’s administration at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
I sought comment from Hausmann while writing that article, asking him questions including whether or not it was appropriate for him and Guaidó’s “attorney general,” José Ignacio Hernández, to continue working at Harvard despite their service in Venezuela’s US-recognized government.
“I can’t think of one example of someone who worked an academic job [at Harvard] while serving in government. How do you have time for all of your duties?” I asked the professor.
“I exercise no government functions,” Haussman replied. “I do not run an organization, I am not paid by the Venezuelan government and I do not manage a public budget.”
This answer surprised me. Hausmann’s appointment to serve at the IDB and his role in designing Guaidó’s $160 billion debt restructuring plan surely constitute “government functions,” and in fact, required the ouster of an IDB official who had been appointed by the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.
“Are you telling me Guaido’s administration does not constitute a legitimate government? I am sure the Venezuelan people will be surprised to hear that,” I said to Hausmann, highlighting his role in Guaidó’s so-called administration.
Realizing his error, Hausmann conceded, “I am an advisor of Juan Guaidó, which I do on a pro bono basis. I have been named governor of the IDB and a member of the restructuring commission. Neither involves any compensation.”
“So you do exercise government function?” I replied in order to confirm Hausmann’s self-contradiction. I noted the fact Alejandro Grisanti, the Guaidó-appointed chair of PdVSA’s board, and Gustavo Tarre, Guaidó’s “ambassador” to the Organization of American States, were required to quit their previous jobs before joining Venezuela’s shadow regime, even if they aren’t getting paid either.
“This isn’t an issue of compensation,” I added, stressing the issue of his dual employment.
It was at this point that Hausmann’s defense devolved from logic, which seemed to be in low supply, to ad-hominem.
“You are not a journalist nor are you interested in the truth,” charged Hausmann. “You are an advocate of a cause and you produce biased and untrue stuff that advances your political agenda.”
“Ok, you are entitled to your opinion,” I responded, inviting Hausmann to correct any of my inaccuracies. “Have I said anything false?”
“I am not required to quit my job, according to Venezuelan law, US law or Harvard norms,” asserted the professor.
“Ok,” I accepted. “But shouldn’t you disclose your private consulting clients if you are a government advisor?”
Rather than answer my question, Hausmann changed the subject: “You tried to disqualify my daughter just because she is my daughter as if she was not an [independent] woman.”
Hausmann’s complaint was a reference to my reporting about his daughter’s failure to disclose her relationship with him, a coup official, while promoting regime-change in Venezuela in a video op-ed for the New York Times.
“Was anything I said false?” I demanded to know. “Did she learn failure to disclose from you?”
Once again, Hausmann could only offer a deflection.
“Please [disclose] how much money you have received from Maduro. What have been your [dealings] with that dictatorship?” he wrote.
While I worked as a correspondent and anchor for RT America until December of 2018, I have never accepted payment from the Venezuelan government or any other state – unlike Hausmann. What’s more, The Grayzone is not funded by any government.
Hausmann responded to this point by urging me to “go to hell.” But that was not the end of our conversation, which lasted into the early hours of the morning.
The exchange also concerned my September 3 investigation into allegations of “criminal negligence” by opposition figures against Hausmann and Guaidó’s US-based officials over their management of the country’s assets.
In that report, I documented how Guaidó’s “attorney general”, José Ignacio Hernández, failed to disclose his previous testimony on behalf of multiple companies suing the Venezuelan state during his confirmation process earlier this year. He then appeared to take several actions which helped those cases against the state after assuming his role as Guaidó’s top overseas legal representative.
Hernández’s actions, which Hausmann has defended, could lead to the liquidation of Citgo, Venezuela’s most valuable international asset.
In refusing to disclose who his private consulting clients were, Ricard Hausmann descended deeper into the realm of absurdity, demanding to know who my father was.
Hausmann declined to answer my question about Citgo and ultimately resorted to blocking me on WhatsApp. And that was how a meltdown that saw a top Venezuelan coup official and jet-setting neoliberal economist bark insults at a reporter until the early hours of the morning finally ended.
Anya Parampil is a journalist based in Washington, DC. She has produced and reported several documentaries, including on-the-ground reports from the Korean peninsula, Palestine, Venezuela, and Honduras.