MIAMI -- Venezuela is facing eviction from the offices of its Miami Consulate after not paying the rent since August, court records uncovered by the Latin American Herald Tribune
According to the court filings, Venezuela was given a 3 Day Notice to Pay the Rent and Cure the Defects or deliver the property on February 7.
"Defendant refuses to do either," say the lawyers in their filing for eviction a week later. Venezuela owes $142,118.70 and hasn't paid its rent since August 2017.
After Venezuela refused to pay or vacate the premises, the owners TWJ 1100, LLC filed the eviction lawsuit in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court seeking "judgment for possession of the property" and "damages, costs, attorney fees and such further relief as the Court deems just and proper."Maduro Announces Re-Opening Miami Consulate
In 2012, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez closed the Miami Consulate after the U.S. State Department declared Venezuela Consul Livia Acosta persona non grata
. Although the State Deparment gave no reason for the persona non grata
declaration, the announcement came in the wake of a Univision documentary called "The Iranian Threat" about an alleged Iranian plot to carry out a cyber attack against several nuclear plants, the White House and other federal agencies in the U.S.A. Some of the interviewees on the program said that the embassies of Iran, Cuba and Venezuela, where Acosta had worked since 2001, were to participate in the plot.
Earlier this month on February 14, Venezuela leader Nicolas Maduro announced that he was reopening the country's consulate in Miami, citing requests from fellow citizens who want to vote in the upcoming April 22 presidential election.
"Given that Venezuela was served with their Three Day Notice on February 7th -- and didn't pay -- Maduro must have known that they were being evicted when he made that empty promise to re-open the Miami Consulate," said Russ Dallen of Caracas Capital, who discovered the Eviction Notice.
Miami is home to the largest Venezuelan exile community in the U.S., largely made up of citizens who oppose the Maduro regime.
Venezuelans living in Florida have had to travel thousands of miles to other consulates around the country to vote as well as get documents, passports and birth certificates because of the 2012 closure.TWJ 1101 LLC
The owners, TWJ 1101 LLC, are an affiliate of Florida East Coast Realty, whose principal is Tibor Hollo.
Behind the building, at 1101 Brickell Bay Avenue, TWJ is building Florida's tallest building, the 85 story Panorama Tower, which will have 208 hotel rooms, 821 apartments, 100,000 square feet of medical offices, 50,000 square feet of retail and 2,300 parking spaces.
Venezuela originally acquired the 19 story office building in 1983, when Venezuela state bank Banco Industrial de Venezuela (BIV) paid $31.5 million for it. BIV sought to auction the tower in 1995 in the wake of a Venezuela economic crisis but state owned development bank BANDES ended up taking it over after the U.S. government gave a Cease and Desist Order to BIV in the wake of BIV involvement in drug-money laundering. A BIV official was arrested and charged with violations of U.S. criminal money laundering statutes.
Venezuela's BANDES sold the building in 2005 for $70 million and the building was then sold to TWJ 1101 LLC in 2009 when the Miami property market had crashed for just $33.25 million.
TWJ v Venezuela Consulate - Originating Complaint -- 16 February 2018 by Latin American Herald Tribune on Scribd
TWJ 1101 LLC by Latin American Herald Tribune on Scribd