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I've seen this now numerious times,

Analysts say Leftist leader had 'amassed private fortune of $2 billion' - Dailymail.co.uk

And, that's a pretty sly way to say that "someone said". But, is it true,

"According to Jerry Brewer, president of Criminal Justice International Associates (CJIA), Hugo Chavez’s net worth might have been bolstered by absconding money from the people of Venezuela: “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 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.”" - Inquisitr

Is the CJIA reliable, or a partisan think tank? How did they come to this guess?

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take look at CJIA's website and tell me if it looks like something reliable: cjiausa.org Also, looking at LinkedIn, seems that CJIA is Jerry Brewer and no one else. –  vartec Mar 7 '13 at 16:01
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@DVK: it's answer to the question if CJIA is reliable. It clearly isn't and as far as I can tell, most (if not all) information on CJIA page is made up. I'm not a doctor, but seems like severe case of mythomania. –  vartec Mar 7 '13 at 16:59
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$1,068,000,000 quote with $34,000,000 annual claim suspiciously sounds like joke about 1,000,002 year old rock ("how did you get so precise measurements? well, 2 years ago it was determined to be 1mln years old...") –  vartec Mar 7 '13 at 17:01
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@DVK: well, the issue is that there really are 3 different questions: how much is Chavez's wealth worth? are there any reliable sources proving Chavez's wealth? Is the source mentioned in the question reliable? I strongly suspect that first two are hard if not impossible to answer. Especially knowing how things work in such a countries. Most often the "wealth" wouldn't officially be owned by dictator, but belong to some state company. –  vartec Mar 7 '13 at 17:09
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@DVK: I agree completely. As it is, it's not up to Skeptics standards. This question should be completely reworded and not use this ridiculous source for the claim. –  vartec Mar 7 '13 at 17:12
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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It seems to be that this claim originated from Criminal Justice International Associates (CJIA). They seem to have one person affiliated with their organization, the same person cited in the source, "Jerry Brewer". In the comments to the question, someone found their website. On it was a phone number which helped me find this site which they had made with Google. CJIA refers to itself as a A Global Threat Mitigation Firm, which seems vague and Stratfor-ish.

Linked on CJIA's Google Site, I was able to find Brewer's bio. Jerry Brewer however does claim a lot of experience,

Mr. Brewer is a U.S. Government-trained counterterrorism specialist and senior trainer, with extensive operational activity in Latin America and the Middle East as an intelligence community operative. Fluency in Spanish (Castilian).

He has over thirty years of professional managerial and leadership experience in the field of Criminal Justice; fifteen (15) years as Chief of Police (3 states)- U.S. Congressional and State Senate and House, honors for: “…bravery and salient actions; quick and unflinching response, and exemplary citizenship he has manifested in going above and beyond the call of duty to assure the safety of others.”

He works as an expert witness on "complex law enforcement operational issues including death/homicide," needless to say at this point it seemed like making a claim about the wealth of the president of a foreign nation is out of his paygrade.

Also on his Google Site was a link to his WordPress blog. On that blog, you can find Brewer's paper authored in November 27, 2011 about Chávez entitled "Hugo Chavez's Abuse of Power and Corruption". Writing about the 2012 Venezuela elections, he said,

A freedom loving Venezuelan populace is determined to take back their country in the 2012 elections and restore a “true democracy.”

Clearly, that's untrue. In the 2012 Venezuela elections, Chávez won with an 11% margin. That's an electoral landslide. Aside from being disconnected from facts, Brewer's bias is abundantly apparent in the document,

As a devout worshipper and follower of his hero and mentor Fidel Castro, he took up the banner of Cuba's failed revolution of atrocities, human rights abuses, and Cuba‟s shameful misery; and essentially claimed the dubious honor of leading the blind- through corruptive influences, hidden motives and opportunities, and much impunity of action.

Alas though the 2011 PDF isn't the only one authored by CJIA on Venezeula, Brewer published the four page "The Death of Hugo Chavez Surrounded in Veil of Concealment" on March 6, 2013. In it, the only mention of any estate of Chávez is assumed from this,

Little was done to curb Venezuela’s safety from homicides and related violent crime that are setting world records. Gifts and significant discounts of oil to Cuba and others, severely crippled the Venezuelan economy with essentially no paper or record of this massively squandered Venezuelan oil revenue. He consistently refused to explain how such an oil-rich country had fallen financially and failed the people. The squandering and unaccountability of Venezuela's vast oil revenues remains a mystery to the Venezuelan populace.

There is no further mention in even this most recent document of Chávez's wealth. It is worth explicitly mentioning that it's pretty naive and shortsighted to say that an oil subsidy to Cuba resulted in a severe crippling of the Venezuela's economy.

Brewer seems to be eccentric character that doesn't like citing his facts. It seems consistent with his character and anti-Chávez positions to make such a statement, and also consistent not to cite that statement. I wouldn't put any weight in Brewer's authority and the statement is otherwise unsubstantiated.

If you'd like to read some other not-so-interesting articles written by Brewer you can check out Brewer's Scribd page.

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-1 for committing 2 fallacies. First of all, the claim IS being made by sources other than this website; second of all, dismissing a claim based on reliability of a source is a typical Ad-Hominem fallacy. Both the question and the answer sound like either an attempt to discredit this random analyst dude or more likely, an attempt to discredit a valid claim by pretending that its validity is somehow tied up with the reliability claim source (who isn't even a unique source of it). –  DVK Mar 7 '13 at 17:33
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But the sources of this claim, when cited, are CJIA. Unless YOU can show me another source of this claim. I agree, ideally, I'd find the true net worth of Chávez, but I don't believe that is possible here so the question is where did the claim originate and was there merit in the methodology of that claim's origination. However, in looking for an methodology I've come to conclude it was just a personal grudge against the Venezuelan president. –  Evan Carroll Mar 7 '13 at 17:39
    
see 3 independent links in the comments to the question. –  DVK Mar 8 '13 at 4:36
    
Does not prove anything, does not reach a conclusion, only shows that the CJIA might be unreliable, but does NOT prove them wrong in this matter. Does not bring up anything about how much wealth Chavez have. Not an answer. –  Wertilq Jun 1 '13 at 10:19
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When researching I found this :

News Busters

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.”1

Which cites as 'corroborating non-numeral evidence':

NPR

During his eight years in office, Chavez's family members have managed to increase their personal power and wealth.2

New York Times

Politicians once loyal to the president who have broken with him and his family here contend that Mr. Chávez’s family has amassed wealth and landholdings through a series of deals carried out by front men.

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The newsbusters article cites CJIA which, in lieu of not citing their source, I've already debunked as a non-credible to my own satisfaction. The NYT article is useful but does nothing to satisfy the claim to the 2 billion dollar number. –  Evan Carroll Mar 9 '13 at 18:51
    
NPR & NYT articles cited at the first link are supposed to be corroborating the suspect CIJA number- though I think anyone who claims exact numbers is probably working in conjecture, the other articles do at least posit evidence massive wealth was being sapped out of the country by him and his family. –  JackStokes Mar 9 '13 at 20:04
    
Just because the news busters guy used one bad source doesn't discredit evidence in the other 2. Unless someone finds his personal documents, we'll probably never even know within an order of magnitude how much. Point stands though that wealth was amassed most likely between somewhere from hundreds of millions- to 10s of billions. Most likely a billion or so. –  JackStokes Mar 9 '13 at 20:09
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Sure, but no double dipping. The Newsbusters article brings nothing new to the table other than the NPR/NYT info. The NPR one is predominately focused around petty benefits government residencies, escorts, canine pets, and SUVs. Pretty much the same thing with the NYT article. For me anyway, it's neither relevant nor telling to have family members that are also in government: most Democracies have this; look at the Bush(s) and Kennedy(s). That's just the result of popularity and not evidence of corruption. –  Evan Carroll Mar 9 '13 at 20:48
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IE, nothing to do with the two-billion dollar claim, it's just evidence some people dislike Chávez for a reason or are suspicious of his mother's SUV, and the cost of his presidential home. –  Evan Carroll Mar 9 '13 at 20:49
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As for the unsubstantiate accusations about Chavez accumulation of a fortune of $1 billion, this "information", increasingly repeated across the internet, comes from a Jerry Brewer who self-describes himself on his CJIA website as:

Mr. Brewer is a U.S. Government-trained counterterrorism specialist and senior trainer, with extensive operational activity in Latin America and the Middle East as an intelligence community operative.

A credible source indeed.

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Welcome to Skeptics! This answer has three problems that should be fixed. 1: you say his claims are unsubstantiated. You need to substantiate that. 2: you say the claims come from him. You need to substantiate that. 3: This is an ad hominem attack. The fact that he has this experience make cause us to be more skeptical, but doesn't mean he isn't right this time. –  Oddthinking Apr 11 '13 at 2:30
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