The richest person in Venezuela isn’t a billionaire industrialist, but the daughter of dead socialist President Hugo Chavez, according to Venezuelan media reports.
María Gabriela, Chavez’s favourite daughter, is reported to be worth a staggering $4.2 billion. Gabriela’s father was a notorious opponent of capitalism and Venezuela’s entrepreneurial class. When he was alive he went so far to say “capitalism leads us straight to hell.”
Chavez was also a vicious opponent of the Unites States over the course of his life, declaring that the “North American empire is the biggest menace to our planet.”
If the reports turn out to be true, Gabriela would be significantly richer than Venezuela’s richest businessman Gustavo Cisneros, whose estimated wealth amounts to $3.6 billion. According to the Criminal Justice International Associates, the Chavez family amassed a vast fortune at the height of Venezuela’s oil boom.
For a brief period in 2002, Gabriela served in the ceremonial First Lady of Venezuela, accompanying her father on major state occasions. She was also made one of Venezuela’s representatives to the United Nations in 2014. Her appointment was greeted with extreme skepticism from former Venezuelan ambassador Milos Alcalay.
“Normally in the U.N., when you get to the post of ambassador, you have served as a diplomat in many different positions, in many different parts of the world,” said Milos Alcalay, a former U.N. ambassador under Mr. Chávez. “In the case of María Gabriela it will serve as the beginning of her career. I hope she can do it. I have my doubts.”
Gabriela has been dogged by allegations of corruption for importing rice from Argentinian food company Bioart at 80 percent above the market value. The scandal gave birth to her nickname “the queen of rice.”
Gabriela was reported to have lived in the Presidential palace for 10 months illegally after the death of her father in March 2013. She was asked repeatedly by the new President Nicolas Maduro to leave the premises. Reports of Gabriela’s extravagant wealth surface as her country is in the grips of a recession. (RELATED: Venezuela’s Socialist Government Blames US For Supermarket Lootings As Food Shortages Bite)
Venezuela is suffering massive shortages of basic consumer goods with inflation running rampant. The situation has become so desperate that riots are breaking out at government-run supermarkets with citizens desperate to get a hold of scarce goods.