Since the United States initiated a coup attempt against Venezuela’s elected, internationally recognized government in January 2019, the gang of far-right opposition activists the Donald Trump administration recognized as the country’s unelected representatives have racked up a series of embarrassing scandals.
Top aides of the US-appointed “interim president,” Juan Guaidó, blew hundreds of thousands of dollars of humanitarian aid money on luxury hotels, swanky clothes, and wild parties in Colombia. Violent pro-Guaidó coup-mongers then burnt USAID trucks in a failed putsch on the Venezuelan border, while falsely blaming the fire on the actual president in Caracas, Nicolás Maduro.
Guaidó’s coup gang subsequently set the stage for North American corporations to liquidate Venezuela’s most valuable foreign asset, Citgo. And in another bizarre PR stunt, Guaidó even tried to scale the fence outside of Venezuela’s National Assembly, after refusing to pass through the main entrance.
Nearly 18 months into the failed coup attempt, the scandals keep coming.
This July, the representative that the Venezuelan coup regime appointed to the United Kingdom, Vanessa Neumann, threatened several American and British journalists who criticized her on social media.
Neumann’s corporate consulting firm claimed to have reported these journalists to the FBI, and even baselessly accused them without a scintilla of evidence of being “part of an indicted transnational criminal network with a price on your head.”
These threats came just after Neumann’s official Twitter account declared, “Death to Nicolás Maduro.” Neumann subsequently claimed her profile was hacked, while intimidating the journalists who reported on her incendiary tweet.
How a deranged right-wing fanatic like this ended up as the person the British government recognizes as Venezuela’s official representative deserves some investigation.
Neumann’s bizarre tactics are part and parcel of a much longer pattern that has played out in British tabloids well before she was known as a faux diplomat. She is the product of a life of endless entitlement and a climate of right-wing zealotry that is characteristic of Venezuela’s powerful oligarchy. The parasitic class of business owners she hails from once controlled the oil-rich South American nation’s government and economy, and are desperate to wrest back control of the state from the leftist Chavista movement.
Neumann got her start working for companies owned by her plutocrat grandfather. She then established herself as an oil lobbyist, a corporate consultant, and a conservative pundit who shuffled through an array of American and British think tanks and media outlets that are hellbent on overthrowing Venezuela’s socialist government, subordinating its independent foreign policy to Washington, and re-privatizing the country’s substantial natural resources.
Her extensive work with large corporations and her elite position in Venezuela’s oligarchy is precisely why the country’s right-wing opposition tapped her in March 2019 to be the Guaidó coup regime’s official representative to Britain.
In her newfound position, Neumann has openly called on the UK to help overthrow Venezuela’s leftist Chavista government.
“We want Britain to help us liberate out country from tyranny. And we want to build a long-term relationship,” she stated bluntly in her capacity as coup ambassador. She added enticingly, “You could say there is a wonderful post-Brexit opportunity for Britain.”
In August 2019, Neumann went on to hold a friendly meeting with neoconservative US National Security Advisor John Bolton, celebrating the Strangelovian war hawk as “our ally in our fight for freedom.”
This investigation shows how Neumann’s career was carefully cultivated by hawkish Western government-funded think tanks and neoconservative groups which have worked to dubiously link Venezuela and other leftist forces in Latin America to the global drug trade, organized crime networks, and Lebanese Hezbollah.
A deep dive into Neumann’s almost cartoonishly elite past says it all about who exactly the United States and the European countries that recognize Guaidó want to restore as the rulers of Venezuela, and what their real priorities are.
Vanessa Neumann is a dual citizen of the United States born into one of the wealthiest, most powerful families in all of Venezuela. She has spent much of her life outside of the country.
Neumann first entered the international limelight as the ex-girlfriend of Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger. British tabloids described her as a “well-known socialite in London during the 1990s,” where Neumann earned the moniker, the “Cracker from Caracas.”
In a book she published in 2017, Neumann boasted of a Hollywood-style upbringing in Venezuela. She proudly recounted her life as a former “Caracas socialite,” who “was featured in society pages, magazine covers, and even cinema newsreels.”
This was before the rise of Venezuela’s popular socialist President Hugo Chávez and his transformative Bolivarian Revolution, which Neumann lamented brought an end to the privileges of the nation’s tiny oligarchic class.
Flaunting her extreme wealth in the book, Neumann recalled that, in the halcyon days before socialism, rich Venezuelans “used to make fun of Americans as poor, and there were frequent shopping flights from Caracas to Miami: fly out in the morning, shop all day, return to Caracas at night.” (Like many rich Americans, Neumann simultaneously tried to downplay the enormous wealth of elites like her by calling them “middle-class,” but they were anything but.)
Neumann’s lavish lifestyle was made possible due to the enormous wealth of her grandfather, one of the top oligarchs in Venezuela.
Vanessa’s grandfather, Hans Neumann, was a Czech-Venezuelan plutocrat eulogized in his obituary in the Associated Press as “one of the most prominent businessmen and media and arts patrons in Venezuela.”
Hans’ daughter Ariana Neumann – the aunt of Vanessa – penned a memoir about her father, in which she described the family patriarch as a “leading industrialist.” She recalled how, in Caracas, “Billboards around the city advertised his businesses: paints, building supplies, juices, yogurts. People read his newspapers. Every hardware shop bore the logo of his paint factory, Montana. He also headed charitable institutions, spear-headed educational programmes and was a patron of the arts.”
Hans Neumann had immigrated to Venezuela from his native Czechoslovakia in 1949. Before World War II, the Neumann family was wealthy and owned a profitable paint factory. But because they were of Jewish descent, many of Hans’ relatives were tragically murdered in the Holocaust.
Hans, on the other hand, decided to remain in Central Europe throughout World War II. Instead of fleeing or fighting against the Third Reich, his strategy was to stay in the belly of the beast, adopt a fake name, and even become a collaborator with the Nazi regime.
His daughter Ariana explained in her book that Hans Neumann moved to Berlin in 1943, at the peak of the war. There, using a pseudonym in the capital of the Third Reich, he got a job as a chemist at a paint factory that, as the Times of Israel described it, was “crucial to the German war effort and run by avowed Nazi party members.”
In her memoir, Ariana wrote that the German company where her father worked “was the principal manufacturer of protective polymer coatings for the German war machine.” Hans’ employer “had been given priority status” by the Nazi regime, she explained, because the “paint technology that they were working on was critical in reducing drag, vital for effective aircraft and missile development.”
Ariana also revealed that, while in Berlin during the war, Hans Neumann was even forced to work as a fireman for the Nazi regime, and he put out fires caused by British bombing raids.
She found an old ID card that Hans Neumann had used in order to work in the Third Reich, with a stamp of Hitler’s face.
Hans Neumann returned to Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II, but he still didn’t leave. Instead he reestablished his family paint company. It was not until 1949, years after the end of the horrors of the war, when a new communist government came to power in Czechoslovakia and planned to seize Neumann’s lucrative paint factory, that he parted for Venezuela.
Vanessa Neumann wrote in her book that her oligarch grandfather had “escaped Soviet oppression.” He had lived through the horrors of the genocidal Nazi regime, but apparently socialists were too much for him.
In capitalist Venezuela in the era of the Cold War, under a series of US-backed military dictatorships and right-wing governments, Hans amassed a fortune dominating the paint industry, chemical sales, and food imports.
Within 10 years of Hans’ arrival to Venezuela, he sent his son Michal, Vanessa’s father, to study at the elite Millbrook boarding school in New York (which also produced notorious neoconservative godfather William F. Buckley). In the United States, Michal Neumann married an affluent “American girl he met through her godparents, who worked for Shell Oil in Venezuela,” Vanessa wrote in her book.
In 1976, Hans Neumann bought 60 percent of the shares of the Mustique Company, making him the majority owner of his own private island in the West Indies called Mustique, a home to several dozen elite oligarchs like him. The private island’s website heroized Hans as “the man who saved Mustique” and “one of Venezuela’s greatest industrialists.”
By 1993, Hans was moving into retirement. Vanessa boasted in her book that the “Neumann family business,” the massive corporate conglomerate Corimon, was “listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1993, one of the first South American companies to do so.”
Vanessa continued to brag about her plutocratic family’s business ties. “We and other Venezuelan business leaders set up an MBA program, one not only modeled on Harvard’s, but actually under the guidance of [a] Harvard Business School professor,” she wrote.
Vanessa Neumann moved from Venezuela to the United States in 1982 when she was around 10 years old. Since then, she has spent most of her life in the US and Europe. On her personal website, Neumann describes herself as a “Venezuelan-American entrepreneuse.”
Neumann has personally benefited greatly from her oligarchic family’s wealth, inheriting millions of dollars. This is a matter of public record.
Hans’ first wife, Milada Neumann, passed away in 1990. Milada, Vanessa’s grandmother, had divorced Hans after they moved to Venezuela, but retained millions of dollars in her own massive private estate.
Legal records show that, in 1996, a US court found that Milada Neumann’s estate had not paid more than $2 million of taxes that were required by law.
The US court estimated that, at the time of her death, Milada Neumann had $20 million worth of assets, including valuable real estate and art works, located in New York, along with an additional $15 million in Venezuela, for a total of $35 million in wealth.
In her will, Milada had apportioned 50 percent of her estate to go to her son Michal Neumann, Vanessa’s father. Milada also gave 25 percent of her wealth to her granddaughter Vanessa, and the remaining 25 percent to Vanessa’s brother Ricardo.
This means that, before taxation, Vanessa was to inherit $8.75 million in wealth, from her grandmother alone – not to mention the additional, enormous riches that she may have also received from her grandfather and father.
Before she was rewarded with a sinecure as an ambassador for Venezuela’s right-wing coup regime, which holds absolutely zero institutional power inside the country, Vanessa Neumann was handed opportunity after opportunity on a silver platter.
Neumann spent her most formative years in the United States, where she completed all of her higher education, including 11 years at New York City’s Ivy League Columbia University, from 1991 to 1994 and then again from 1997 to 2004.
Vanessa’s first job was at The Daily Journal, Venezuela’s only English-language newspaper at the time – which happened to be the personal property of Grandpa Hans.
The Mustique company, which runs the private island that Hans majority-owned, approvingly noted that the oligarch created media outlets “to voice opposition to the government of Hugo Chavez.”
In her book, Neumann wrote openly of how her grandfather used his newspapers to spread anti-Chávez propaganda. “After Chávez was elected, my grandfather cofounded another newspaper, called Tal Cual,” she wrote. “Tal Cual was designed to counter Chavismo, as the ideology of Hugo Chávez came to be known, and to be distributed in the poorer, pro-Chavista areas. The newspaper’s cofounder and editor-in-chief, Teodoro Petkoff, was a former Communist guerilla, which made his rejection of the Chávez regime all the more powerful.”
Vanessa’s second and third jobs were as a planner and financial analyst for what she described on her LinkedIn page as the “Venezuelan petrochemicals conglomerate Corimon” – while failing to mention that this huge corporate conglomerate was owned by her grandfather.
Vanessa Neumann’s next position was as an oil industry lobbyist at Venezuela’s embassy in Washington, DC. There, from 1994 to 1995, Neumann boasts on LinkedIn that she “Lobbied US government for oil industry interests.”
Vanessa Neumann’s next move was to transition into the world of academia, NGOs, and think tanks.
As a PhD candidate in moral political philosophy at Columbia University, she used her dissertation to criticize Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and advocate for his removal.
Fresh out of school with a doctorate, Neumann enjoyed a stint as a “security analyst” focused on Latin America at the hawkish British think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
The IISS is closely linked to the UK Ministry of Defence establishment, and is handsomely funded by the governments and militaries of dozens of Western countries, the top corporations in the arms industry, fossil fuel giants, and repressive Gulf monarchies.
In her book, Neumann says that it was at the IISS where she started the work that she would later become most known for: trying to link the Chavista government in Venezuela to drug trafficking.
Neumann worked overtime to establish connections between Caracas and the revolutionary leftist guerrilla groups in Colombia, which she simplistically demonized as “narcoterrorists.” Neumann blamed the drug trade on the socialist militias the FARC and the ELN, not the central Colombian government and the far-right paramilitary death squads that Bogotá supported. Neumann also accused Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution of advancing “its own imperialist agenda” in neighboring Colombia.
The drug-linked regime in Bogotá rewarded Neumann for her work. In her book, she boasted that “the Colombian government (which is conservative, pro-American, and anti-Chavista) invited me to come to Colombia, twice.”
In the 2000s, Vanessa Neumann sought opportunities at Anglo media outlets eagerly seeking a Venezuelan voice to slam the up-and-coming President Hugo Chávez.
She started writing articles on Latin America for the neoconservative publication The Weekly Standard, which Neumann proudly described as one “of the leading conservative magazines in the US.”
Next, she went to work as an editor at Diplomat Magazine, and joined the board of directors of the Latin American Herald Tribune, a right-wing English-language Venezuelan website.
In her book, Neumann gloated that she used the growing right-wing campaign against Chávez to “launch [her] political commentary career,” regularly appearing on the BBC, Al Jazeera, and of course Fox News to blame all of Venezuela’s ills on Chavismo.
Neumann’s growing interest in the press led to her eventual marriage to an influential British right-wing media mogul.
“In 2008 I married into a British family that was both political and journalistic,” she recounted in her book. “My father-in-law Bill Cash, MP, was a renowned Thatcherite Tory (a Conservative Eurosceptic); my husband, William Cash, was a writer and magazine owner.”
Never one for modesty, Neumann openly boasted that her “wedding reception was in the Speaker’s Palace of the Palace of Westminister, the UK Parliament, and was attended by the editor and owner of every single major UK publication, from the Financial Times to The Sun.” She added snidely, “except for The Guardian.”
Neumann’s marriage didn’t last. British tabloids reported that their relationship came to a disastrous end after just 15 months. The Daily Mail wrote that “Neumann – dubbed the ‘Cracker from Caracas’ after a fling with Rolling Stone Mick Jagger – fled on a one-[way] ticket to New York accompanied only by her pet chihuahua Pitoufa.” (Pitufo/a is Spanish for “Smurf“.)
The Mail added that “Neumann was already consult[ing] lawyers about a divorce and is planning to recuperate at her family home in Mustique” — a reference to the private island previously owned by her oligarch grandfather.
In 2010, the Venezuelan-American right-wing activist formed a consulting firm she named after herself: Vanessa Neumann, Inc. After a few years of work for corporate clients (which were “long-standing, legitimate, and huge,” she bragged in her book), in 2013 Neumann renamed the firm Asymmetrica, and declared “anticorruption” to be her new “personal cause.”
Neumann describes Asymmetrica on her publicly available LinkedIn profile as “specialists in strategic analytical risk reporting for Fortune 500 clients across sectors, covering: oil & gas, finance, manufacturing and consumer goods.”
She continues, explaining how her work was focused on bringing foreign corporations to Latin America:
“Asymmetrica’s Latin America division has a range of in-country specialists who empower us to bridge investment and partnership deals between Latin America and the world. Our extensive relationships across the finance and government sectors in New York, Washington, DC, Shanghai and Hong Kong enable us to bring foreign investors into Latin America and help Latin American businesses entering the North American and Asian markets to navigate the political, financial and regulatory frameworks in a complex global trade environment.”
On LinkedIn, Neumann touted an endorsement from former CIA Director David Petraeus, who complimented her for her purported skills in international relations.
One key constant that has remained in Vanessa Neumann’s career for nearly a decade is the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), a neoconservative Philadelphia-based think tank that is closely associated with the Republican Party and the US government’s so-called war on terror.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Neumann served as a “national security” senior fellow at FPRI’s Center for the Study of Terrorism from 2011 until recently. When exactly she stepped down is not clear, but it appears to be sometime in the past year, when she was kicked upstairs to her new position as the Venezuelan coup regime’s UK representative. FPRI played an outsize role in helping get her there.
The think tank was founded at the height of the Cold War by avowed anti-communist Austrian-American diplomat Robert Strausz-Hupé, who served as a US ambassador for numerous Republican administrations.
For several years in the ’80s and ’90s, FPRI was directed by neoconservative activist Daniel Pipes, an infamous anti-Muslim demagogue and son of prominent former CIA analyst Richard Pipes. In a 1991 lecture at the conservative Heritage Foundation titled “From a Distance: Influencing Foreign Policy from Philadelphia,” Daniel Pipes described FPRI’s warmongering mission in frank terms:
“It may be helpful for me to make explicit the politics of FPRI. Put most baldly, we have always advocated an activist U.S. foreign policy; we have shared an abiding suspicion of the Soviet Union and other Communist states; and we have always maintained a strong interest in the promotion of democracy, free enterprise, and the rule of law. Perhaps most controversially, the professional staff is not shy about the use of force; were we members of Congress in January 1991, all of us would not only have voted with President Bush and Operation Desert Storm, we would have led the charge.”
FPRI was crucial in shaping Neumann’s career, helping her to market herself across the media as a purported expert on international crime networks and the drug trade.
In the 2000s, as leftist political movements won democratic elections throughout Latin America, in a wave known popularly as the Pink Tide, Neumann began to fashion herself as an expert on crime in the region.
Neumann was an early, prominent contributor to right-wing conspiracy theories, which have since become a popular weapon among conservative forces in Latin America, that try to link the socialist governments in the region to drugs and organized crime.
In her capacity as a FPRI senior fellow, Neumann published article after article, doing dozens of interviews on major media networks, claiming that the Chavista government in Venezuela was deeply implicated in international drug trafficking, in collaboration with leftist Colombian guerrillas, Iran, and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
This conspiracy theory was once fringe, repeated only by right-wing extremists in the Republican Party. But when Donald Trump entered the White House, and promptly surrounded himself with hardline hawks hellbent on overthrowing the leftist “Troika of Tyranny” in Latin America, the far-right fantasy was formally embraced by the US government.
In the past several years, an increasing array of corporate media outlets began citing Neumann as a supposed expert on global crime, and crime in Venezuela in particular. The Wall Street Journal relied on her for a dubious report on supposed Hezbollah money laundering in Latin America. CNN, Foreign Affairs, Al Jazeera, the New York Post, and the Council on Foreign Relations all quoted her as well.
Neumann became a regular fixture on Fox News, where she blamed all of Venezuela’s problems on socialism and argued Hezbollah is running ramshod across Latin America. When a violent US-backed coup attempt kicked off in Nicaragua in 2018, seeking to overthrow its democratically elected socialist government, Al Jazeera even brought on Neumann to point the finger at the leftist Sandinista Front.
With extensive links to explicitly partisan neoconservative organizations, Neumann worked her way up to a vaulted position as an advisor to the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade. Her consulting firm Asymmetrica even managed to get an endorsement from the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate.
Neumann’s years of trying to link leftist forces in Latin America to organized crime culminated in 2017, when she published a book titled “Blood Profits: How American Consumers Unwittingly Fund Terrorists.”
This book was a straightforward product of her work at FPRI. The first line in the acknowledgements of the tome thanked the neoconservative think tank: “My earliest formation of the links between illicit trade and terrorist finance appeared in publications for the Foreign Policy Research Institute,” Neumann wrote.
With the Trump administration in office and the State Department under the leadership of the right-wing militarist Mike Pompeo, Neumann’s work was finally taken seriously inside Washington’s halls of power.
In March 2018, a neoconservative group organized a conspiratorial panel discussion at the Rayburn House Office Building. It was titled “The Crime-Terror Convergence: Countering Hezbollah’s Growing Criminal Empire in Latin America,” and featured Neumann alongside former top CIA and DEA officials.
Then in May 2018, Republican Congressman Keith Rothfus sponsored another panel with Neumann’s corporate consulting firm Asymmetrica in the Rayburn House Building.
The event was held to mark the release of a new report Neumann had overseen called “Golden Hydra.” The study purported to explain how an elaborate $43 billion per year conspiracy involved Latin American drug cartels, the Chinese mafia, and Hezbollah. And, of course, Venezuela occupied a central role in the imperialist fever dream.
Neumann’s firm Asymmetrica received funding for the study from a neoconservative group called the Counter-Extremism Project, which Neumann thanked and listed as an event co-sponsor, along with the British-Venzuelan Society & Chamber of Commerce.
The Counter-Extremism Project was launched in 2014 as a spinoff of the anti-Iran group United Against Nuclear Iran, and featured a cast of the usual neocon suspects, including Senator Joe Lieberman and pro-Israel lobbyists Dennis Ross and Irwin Cotler. The organization has been funded by notorious right-wing billionaire Thomas Kaplan.
By 2019, Neumann seemed to be on the verge of achieving her ultimate goal of returning to power in Venezuela. The Guaidó coup regime and its patrons in the Trump administration awarded her with one of the most important ambassadorial positions.
And the conspiracy theory that she and so many other Latin American right-wingers had dedicated years to trying to prove had become the official line of the US government, which charged Nicolás Maduro and top Venezuelan officials with drug trafficking, and even went so far as to put out a $15 million mafia-style bounty on the president’s head.
Neumann also found an extremely sympathetic ear at the Organization of American States (OAS).
At an event back in February 2018 at the hawkish think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which is funded by a who’s who of Western governments and corporate arms manufacturers, Neumann met with OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro. She lionized the coup-mongering OAS chief at the time as “our hero and liberator.”
Almagro later echoed the bizarre conspiracies that Neumann had helped fuel. In a maniacal speech for the pro-Israel lobby group the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in June 2019, the OAS leader claimed “Iran & Hezbollah, have a solid base of operations in South America in alliance with @NicolasMaduro’s narco dictatorship.” He declared that, if the coup attempt fails in Venezuela, “it’d represent a victory for terrorism, organized transnational crime, and antisemitism.”
Neumann gushed praise for Almagro’s remarks. “That’s exactly right, @Almagro_OEA2015,” she tweeted in response. “Iran & Hezbollah’s activities in Venezuela are of great concern to our friends in the Middle East, too.” Neumann then tagged the accounts of the Saudi embassy in the UK and the Saudi regime media network Al Arabiya, along with the UAE embassy and a Bahraini state media outlet.
By 2020, Neumann’s theories had earned a stamp of approval from NATO’s de facto think tank the Atlantic Council – which is funded to the hilt by the governments of the US and UK, the EU, Gulf monarchies, and the arms industry.
This January, the Atlantic Council invited Neumann to give a lecture called “Maduro’s ties to terrorism: Exposing the regime’s criminal network.” During her rant, Neumann wove an especially colorful conspiracy claiming Venezuela, Iran, Hezbollah, and the Colombian revolutionary guerrilla groups the FARC and ELN were all working together to oversee organized crime networks.
Today, the UK government officially recognizes Vanessa Neumann as the ambassador of Venezuela – even though Guaidó and his coup gang control no institutions inside the country.
The Boris Johnson administration has thus rewarded the right-wing heiress not only for her viewpoints; it has protected her as she threatens American and British journalists with outlandish punishments.
On the evening of July 3, Neumann’s official Twitter account trumpeted “Death to Nicolás Maduro,” along with “the people will be victorious.”
The Venezuelan opposition promptly issued a statement claiming Neumann’s account was hacked. The Guaidó coup regime immediately pointed the finger at Nicolás Maduro, spinning an elaborate conspiracy without a shred of evidence.
“The attack on the ambassador is a response by the regime to the Government’s victory over the gold reserves in London,” Guaidó’s office tweeted from its official account. It was referring to a July 2 decision by a UK high court blocking the actual, internationally recognized Venezuelan government’s access to more than $1 billion worth of its own gold, which it had stored in the Bank of England, and which was effectively stolen from Caracas.
Neumann herself then doubled down on this conspiracy, immediately blaming Maduro. “We have reported to” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that Neumann’s “account has been hijacked,” her company Asymmetrica tweeted. “This is being added to the file at the [FBI] for the threats to a US citizen from a wanted criminal with a $15,000,000 price on his head from @TheJusticeDept.”
Neumann’s consulting firm subsequently followed up, asserting that her account “has been kidnapped by agents or allies of Nicolás Maduro. This is being added to the file with the relevant authorities that is already open on threats against the US citizen by a criminal charged by the Justice Department.”
The Guaidó coup regime’s purported ambassador to Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro, Estefanía Meléndez, likewise claimed the alleged hack was a “cowardly attack from the dictatorship that won’t swallow the bitter drink of its defeat.” Neumann’s Asymmetrica retweeted this claim as well.
None of these Venezuelan opposition figures – Guaidó’s office, Neumann, Asymmetrica, and Meléndez – provided any proof whatsoever to back up their inflammatory accusations.
When Western journalists reported on Neumann’s tweet calling for the death of Venezuela’s president, her corporate consulting firm Asymmetrica sprung into action to threaten them with harsh punishment.
The Asymmetrica Twitter account clearly identifies Neumann as its president. Similarly, Neumann’s personal profile links to Asymmetrica, noting she is the founder. So it appears quite likely that Neumann was using the Asymmetrica page because she claimed to be locked out of her personal account.
Neumann’s consulting firm proceeded to melt down with a series of incendiary tweets threatening the journalists who reported on the violent tweet from Neumann account’s.
“Y’all ready for the consequences of being criminals?”, Asymmetrica tweeted, tagging the accounts of three journalists: John McEvoy, a UK citizen; Camila Escalante, a US citizen; and Pablo Navarrete, a British-Chilean reporter.
The Asymmetrica account exploded, claiming that it reported these three journalists to the FBI for being part of a supposed “criminal conspiracy against @VanessaNeumann, supporting” Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez.
“Welcome to the rule of law, guys,” Neumann’s Asymmetrica account tweeted ominously.
Asymmetrica’s Twitter temper tantrum was far from over. When the independent news website Venezuelanalysis criticized Neumann, her account shot back accusing the media outlet, along with journalist John McEvoy, of being “part of an indicted transnational criminal network with a price on your head.”
“Thanks for helping us nail you with the” FBI, it added.
“What’s the alleged crime? I’m genuinely intrigued,” McEvoy responded.
McEvoy called the baseless smear “laughable.”
“The @FBI don’t think it’s funny,” Asymmetrica retorted. “Have fun with your criminal buddies.”
McEvoy subsequently called the threats a “shameful, egregious, and frankly comical attack on journalism.” He also noted that Neumann has a history of threatening journalists and making outlandishly false accusations against them.
Because the Guaidó coup gang governs no actual state institutions inside Venezuela (it even lost control of Venezuela’s National Assembly this January, when anti-Guaidó opposition factions voted them out), Neumann’s job in the past year has consisted largely of attending international conferences and meeting with right-wing foreign leaders and prominent oligarchs.
This January, Neumann and Guaidó met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. On Twitter, Neumann echoed lavish praise for the conservative British leader.
A few days after this meeting, Guaidó traveled to Spain. Neumann joined him on the trip, where Guaidó also had a friendly meeting with the leaders of Spain’s neo-fascist Vox party. The president of this extremist neo-Francoist party, Santiago Abascal, publicly pledged to join forces to overthrow “the tyranny of Maduro and establish bonds against the Chavista mafia of the Sao Paulo Forum.”
Back in May 2019, Neumann posted a photo on Instagram showing her meeting with El Salvador’s new pro-US, social media-savvy President Nayib Bukele. They had gathered at the US State Department for the annual conference of AS/COA, a right-wing business organization that lobbies for the interests of US corporations in Latin America, and which is funded by those companies themselves.
Neumann has worked extensively with AS/COA over the years. The corporate lobby group has invited her to speak at events and promoted her book. Neumann has in turn publicly lavished praise on the organization for its undying support.
In September 2019, Neumann met with the ambassador of Kuwait.
Two weeks later, Neumann attended the elite global Concordia Summit. She posted a photo on Instagram standing with Cherie Blair, an influential neoliberal activist and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Neumann also met at the conference with Lilian Tintori, a major Venezuelan opposition activist and the wife of far-right coup leader Leopoldo López, the key political force behind Juan Guaidó and the founder of their extremist US-backed party Voluntad Popular (Popular Will).
In July, Neumann attended the Aspen Security Forum, where she met with her “teenage idol,” Madeleine Albright, the former US secretary of state under President Bill Clinton who infamously declared that the death of more than half a million Iraqi children due to sanctions was “worth it.”
“Now I hope to glean some of her wisdom to help me fight for Venezuela’s freedom,” Neumann said of Albright.
When she isn’t posing for photo ops with prominent politicians, Neumann is active on social media, where she posts bizarre memes heroizing President Donald Trump and depicting Venezuela as his hair.
If an actual ambassador of any government promoted such a cartoon of their own country, they would invite ridicule and possible professional sanction. But most of the countries in the world don’t recognize Neumann as a real diplomat.
Though Neumann and her coup compatriots have failed entirely in their bid to wrest power from Venezuela’s current government, it seems she has fallen into an appropriate role.
The years that she spent as a wealthy socialite, hobnobbing with fellow elites in London and New York, prepared Neumann for her newfound role as the political equivalent: a star of a global reality TV show who has the opportunity to mingle with prominent political leaders, but without the burden of real power, and without the obligation to actually represent or govern a country.
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