José Joaquín Cedillo Moreno, a former director at Venezuela's tax agency SENIAT

Controversial Venezuelan tax collector enjoys luxury life in Miami

Controversial Venezuelan tax collector enjoys luxury life in Miami

Numerous ex-officials of the Venezuela's socialist government have set up businesses and residences in the United States, despite repeatedly blaming Washington for the country's current political and economic crisis. Ten years ago Jose Cedillo played a major role in targeting opposition TV stations.

José Joaquín Cedillo Moreno, a former director at Venezuela's tax a...
José Joaquín Cedillo Moreno, a former director at Venezuela's tax agency SENIAT

José Cedillo was considered a strict enforcer in Venezuela's national tax authority, SENIAT, during the government of former President Hugo Chávez.

A decade ago he played a prominent role in penalizing opposition TV stations and several U.S. companies, sparking accusations of political persecution in his role as SENIAT's director of the office of Special Taxpayers.

Lea este articulo en español

Cedillo almost never appeared on Venezuelan television but his name appeared in numerous official announcements as the champion of the 'Zero Evasion" campaign of fines against companies accused of tax cheating during the early years of the Chávez-led socialist revolution.

Today Cedillo lives in the heart of the capitalist empire condemned by his former bosses. He owns a $1.3 million home in a gated community in the city of Doral, near Miami, a district heavily populated by Venezuelan exiles.

He travels the globe with his wife who also worked at the SENIAT. In February the couple sold a bayfront apartment on Miami's high-end Brickell Avenue. They also own an office building in Doral, where the car park boasts an array of Mercedes Benz.

Cedilllo is one of many former officials of Venezuela's socialist government who have established themselves in the United States, betting on anonymity and fading memories, as well as the generosity of U.S. immigration laws.

Miami mansion purchased for $16.5 million by company controlled by alleg...
Alleged frontman for Vice President of Venezuela purchased $16.5 million Miami mansion
Samark López and his wife enjoyed a lavish lifestyle in Miami, despite decrying the United States as an evil empire.

Oil Strike

During a 2003 strike by workers at the state run oil and gas company, PDVSA, the TV channels ran free ads promote the anti-government work stoppage.

Two years later the government punished them by imposing a total of $2 million fines on four major TV companies - Radio Caracas Television, Televen, Venevision, and Globovisión for allegedly failing to pay taxes on the commercials. The fines were seen by the TV channels as part of an effort to intimidate them.

Venevision and Televen later softened their political coverage of the government while RCTV was closed in 2007 after its license was not renewed by the government. Globovision also toned down its political coverage and was later sold to a pro-government businessman.


The government defended its actions as part of sweeping tax reforms to combat tax evasion and to fund social programs for the poor.

Alleging tax violations, Cedillo also ordered the temporary closure of U.S. oil companies Chevron and Shell, as well as the American consumer products firm Colgate-Palmolive and Electricity of Caracas, a U.S. subsidiary.

"I was not a public official"

Cedillo is unrepentant. He told Univision that he an administrative civil servant who began his career under President Rafael Caldera (1994-1999), and does not consider himself tied to any political party.

"You are confused. I was not a public official but a career employee. I entered government service during the Caldera government. I didn't work for the Chávez government but for the Venezuelan state," he said.


In a message sent to Univision, Cedillo's wife, Jessica Herrera, said that her husband "did not belong to any political current," including the ruling United Venezuelan Socialist Party (PSUV) when he was a state employee."

His wife wrote that Cedillo "does not belong to the regime nor sells or receives dollars from the Venezuelan government." She added that "not only does he fight for me and our three children so we lack nothing, but little by little he has tried to help those of our family members who still suffer there so that they can come and escape that disaster."

Venezuela tax collector enjoys the good life in Miami

Until 2007 Cedillo was the right hand of José Gregorio Vielma Mora, director of the SENIAT, the federal tax authority. His colleagues remember him as a low-key employee with a broad technical background who earned the director's confidence.

"Everything Vielma Mora asked for, he granted it, he was his star manager," said a former colleague.

Politically motivated?

The problem is that what Vielma Mora asked for was often politically motivated, critics say.

"Vielma Mora and Cedillo enforced with discretion and deception everything that was ordered from the presidency, they didn't want to be on Chávez's wrong side," the source added.

According to several opposition leaders, Chávez used the SENIAT to politically persecute his critics and silence the media that questioned his rule.

"That guy Cedillo was Vielma Mora's hammer in using tax collection as persecution for political reasons," said Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, director of 'La Entrevista', the most watched television show in Venezuela between 2005 and 2007.

Rodríguez argued that Cedillo unjustifiably ranked him in a higher tax bracket of 'Special' tax payer, without him earning enough income to belong to that category.

"They did not let me respond. I got another letter saying that they were doing an audit of the last four years as a 'special' taxpayer, though I wasn't one," said Rodríguez, who continues to work in Venezuela.

Cedillo, 51, said he does not know who Rodríguez is and that he has not seen Vielma Mora, now governor of Táchira state, for many years. A source told Univision that Cedillo was close to José Vicente Rangel Ávalos, the former ruling party mayor of Sucre, a municipality in Caracas, and son of former vice president José Vicente Rangel.

In her letter to a Univision reporter, Cedillo's wife explained that since leaving the post at SENIAT her husband had worked "independently on several projects, from farming and chicken production in Venezuela ... to a company importing and supplying automotive parts and technology from the United States to Latin America.''

The former official asked Univision why those who today complain of political persecution did not file their grievances officially at the time.

The journalist, Rodríguez, doesn't buy Cedillo's explanation of his presence in the United States.


"I think the fact that [ex-officials of the Chávez government] have gone to the United States, to Europe, to enjoy the good life, makes you realize that what they did was a great outrage."

In photos: The 10 reasons people are protesting in Venezuela right now
The Colombian soldier Mauricio Calvo shares his experience as part of a burgeoning industry of men who travel the world to fight in other people's wars.
Immigrants advocacy groups report 300 shootings aboard the train known as the The Beast. Migrant victims point to security guards hired by the government.
They grew up in Chicago and their husbands, the Flores twins (aka ‘Los Mellizos’), worked for the Sinaloa cartel. The twins later became DEA informants in Mexico who helped bring down El Chapo Guzman. They have written a book, Cartel Wives, telling their story as a lesson to others not to fall for the narco life, and they regret what they put their families through. "Our fathers put on their suit of armor and their badge, and they are going out there on the streets of Chicago,” Mia confesses. “It’s the very same streets that our husbands were flooding with drugs.”
The Rio Abajo bridge was swept away leaving the town of Utuado cut off. Neighbors engineered a pulley system to haul supplies over the river but they wonder when their lives will return to any semblance of normality.
A scene form the new documentary A Long Way From Home about the desegregation of professional baseball.
Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz reacted to comments on Twitter by President Trump in which he said Puerto Ricans “want everything done for them."
It is estimated that there are almost as many Puerto Ricans living off the island as the 3.4 million that reside there. After Hurricane Maria, almost all communication was lost between those on the island and in the diaspora. Univision sent a reporting team to the island before Maria's arrival. Part of their job now is helping connect families.
Two reporters from Univision News followed the track of Hurricane Maria, starting from the southeast where the eye made landfall all the way to the capital. This is what they saw from the road ...
An "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane, Maria made landfall near Yabucoa in southeast Puerto Rico, causing widespread flooding across the U.S. territory of 3.4 million inhabitants. Maria caused rivers to flood all over the island. This video was taken in Guayama, on the south coast.
After a strong earthquake shook Mexico City, thousands of people evacuated their homes. The epicenter was 7.5 miles southeast of Axochiapan, in the state of Morelos.
Had Irma tracked 50 miles further north along Cuba's coast, the results could have been dramatically different, meteorologists say, causing devastation to the densely populated Greater Miami region. Also by tracking up Florida's west coast close to the shoreline deprived Irma of the warm Gulf water that fuels storms. Here is a compilation of the hurricane satellite images shared by NASA on social media.
The program was established in 2012 by President Barack Obama to protect certain undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Nilsa Huete is an undocumented Honduran immigrant living in Key West, Florida. In the last five months, five of her family members have been arrested by agents from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Now she’s fighting against the deportation of her daughter and brother.
Christopher Barker, leader of the 'Loyal White Knights' of the Ku Klux Klan and his wife Amanda Barker discussed their views on President Donald Trump during an exclusive interview for Aquí y Ahora.
That's what Christopher Barker, leader of the KKK's 'Loyal White Knights,' told Univision's late night news anchor in an interview for Aquí y Ahora. "To me you're a ni**er," he added.
Those were the words of Christopher Barker, a leader of the Ku Klux Klan's 'Loyal White Knights' during an interview with Univision's late night news anchor, Ilia Calderon, for the show Aquí y Ahora.
Javier Pérez logró vencer las adversidades tras perder sus piernas en un accidente y ahora es un ejemplo de superación
Tras un accidente protagonizado por una conductora en estado de embriaguez, Javier Pérez, director de una escuela de Miami-Dade, perdió sus piernas, tuvo que lidiar con un fuerte proceso de recuperación, logró volver a caminar gracias a una prótesis y hoy celebra haber podido recuperar varias cosas de su vida.
Tallahassee centra sus fuerzas en la lucha contra el tráfico humano y el abuso contra menores de edad
El representante Robert Asencio entrega detalles de dos proyectos de ley que buscan endurecer los castigos contra las personas que estén involucradas en crímenes como tráfico humano y el abuso. Por otro lado, habla de algunos proyectos que beneficiarán a los empleados públicos en retiro.
Exilio cubano presenta plan para el renacimiento y liberación de la isla
Durante la cumbre ‘Todos por Cuba Libre’, un grupo de exiliados cubanos crearon una estrategia de siete pasos para lograr la recuperación política y social de la isla. El objetivo principal es hacerle saber al pueblo la importancia de la unión para poder vencer la represión del régimen actual.
Venezuela, un país en luto la tras muerte del piloto Óscar Pérez
Para Ramón Muchacho, alcalde de Chacao, la muerte de Óscar Pérez es un acto que refleja la difícil situación que viven cientos de personas que buscan un cambio en Venezuela. Por su parte, Tamoa Calzadilla y José Antonio Colina, presidente de Veppex, detallan los posibles efectos de este suceso en el pueblo venezolano.
Los últimos minutos de Pedro Armendáriz, el hombre que se mató de un disparo en la cama del hospital
Fue uno de los grandes ídolos del cine mexicano, pero su participación en una película de Hollywood filmada en los alrededores de una zona de pruebas nucleares, lo llevó a contraer cáncer (a él y John Wayne, entre muchos otros del elenco). Así es como decidió él mismo terminar con su enfermedad.
“No tengo intención de cambiar el rumbo”, dice Trump al cumplir un año de gobierno
En artículo de opinión publicado en el periódico Washington Examiner, el presidente presume de sus logros, lanza algunas afirmaciones engañosas y sostiene que "el sueño americano es real de nuevo”
Trump sugiere cambiar las reglas de votación en el Senado para terminar con el cierre del gobierno sin tener que negociar
El presidente publicó un tuit en el que insta a los republicanos a accionar la conocida "opción nuclear" que permite aprobar una medida en la Cámara Baja con solo 51 votos en lugar de los 60 requeridos, lo que le permitiría reabrir el gobierno sin atender a las exigencias de los demócratas.
El rebelde Óscar Pérez fue enterrado bajo estricta supervisión del estado venezolano
Desde el Cementerio del Este en la ciudad de Caracas, Maryori Perdomo Pérez, prima del piloto, confirmó el funeral y ofreció detalles sobre las restricciones que les impuso el gobierno de Nicolás Maduro.
Cristiano se retiró con una cortada cerca del ojo izquierdo
El delantero sufrió la herida cuando remató de cabeza para anotar el sexto gol de su equipo.
¡CERCA!. Nicolás Castillo disparó que se estrella en el poste.
¡CERCA!. Nicolás Castillo disparó que se estrella en el poste. on January 21, 2018
La pelota y el travesaño confabulan para evitar un golazo de Nicolás Castillo
América se salva nuevamente de un gol en contra y Castillo se queda nuevamente con las ganas de marcar un golazo.
Schalke tropieza con el Hannover en pleno revuelo por Goretzka
Los mineros dejaron escapar la oportunidad de sumar de a 3 y quedaron rezagados en la clasificación en Alemania.