Venezuelan Immigrants and the Lawyer Who Let Them Down

At 16 weeks, Aleidy Andara discovered that twins were on the way. rare disorderThe result is an uneven distribution of nutrients, oxygen and vitamins between the foetuses. The babies would have a low chance of survival if she gave birth in Mexico.

Javier Bracho was detained for protesting against Maduro and Javier Bracho was tortured and beaten. Andara Bracho fled Venezuela in 2019. They have been in Mexico nearly a year. The couple were seeking asylum in the U.S. but, as part of Trump’s “Remain In Mexico” program, had to remain outside Mexico while their cases were being considered.

The couple hired an American coyote on August 11th 2020 to transport them along the Rio Grande in an inflatable boat. Andara made a plea to the U.S. border patrol for permission to take them into custody. Andara gave birth to Nathan and Noah on September 10, at the Indianapolis Hospital. Noah had to have two heart surgery and was admitted for four months. Bracho was sent home to Mexico but was unable to stay with his wife and did not meet his children until he turned half-year old.

Bracho and Andara say their whole ordeal could’ve been prevented if Rolando Vazquez, a Miami-based immigration lawyer, had not been hired.

Vazquez refers to himself as the “Angel of the Border,” and boasts that he’s never lost an asylum case—even though asylum cases have become extremely difficult to win in recent years. Vazquez uses Instagram to make most of his business. Video testimonials from clients showing their appreciation for his kindness and support. Vazquez is often seen in videos with his gentle, cherubic features and smiling face, as well as showing genuine humility.

Vazquez (who is Mexican of Mexican descent) has hinted that he may one day seek political office. His wife, Sabina Conteras, came from Venezuela, and she has helped him find a niche working with immigrants who’ve been threatened, tortured, and imprisoned by the sham democracy led by Nicolás Maduro.

Robert Harris, Vazquez’s lawyer, said that Vazquez is “one of the most respected in South Florida.” There are reasons. And I feel he is number one when it comes to representation of Venezuelans in immigration courts. “Number one!” 

Bracho and Andara are part of an ex-client group that is working to disbar Vazquez. Two WhatsApp groups have been created with 60 members to help them share their grief about Vazquez and to prepare complaints for submission to the Florida Bar. A few volunteers are also available to help with translation from Spanish into English. 

In the past weeks they have submitted 15 complaints and are planning on introducing 10 more. According to a spokesperson for the Florida Bar, six cases are currently pending against Vazquez. All of them have progressed to the second phase in their review. Although the complaints are not publicly accessible, several clients have shared their submissions. Reason, These include copies of emails and texts correspondences. Vazquez, along with his staff, “scammed”, they claim. They did little to no to move the cases that were assigned to him and didn’t return calls. Contreras is also being accused by ex-clients of verbally abusing and demanding extra payment. He serves as both the office manager of the firm and the senior paralegal.

These are customer claims that didn’t get a positive result, so they “attack lawyers for their confidence or professionalism because they want their case to be better.”The Torney Brian BarakatThe story was told There are reasons. Barakat is Vazquez’s representative in the Florida Bar. He says he has only reviewed two claims, and both were denied. Barakat indicated that “I expect all the claims to get dismissed.”

This is a testimony to the fact that Andara was admitted to the Bar.She claims that Vazquez failed to attend a critical hearing over the telephone, leading to a delay of two months. Meanwhile, COVID-19 caused immigration courts to close down, placing Andara, Bracho and thousands of others who were seeking asylum in legal limbo. Andara was pregnant when she needed urgent medical attention. Vazquez refused to grant her permission to travel to the United States.

According to the emails shared by the couple There are reasonsAndara and Bracho each paid Vazquez $4,000, but Sabina contreras wanted $750 more in order to continue to represent Andara. Bracho also demanded an additional $2,500 because their cross-border crossing had altered the terms. According to Andara’s testimony submitted to the Florida Bar,  Contreras was “verbally abusive…to the point that she even told me in that call that she wished [for] my babies’ death.” 

Contreras stated in an email that Andara sent him, “You pretend as though the extra work required by illegal entry will be free.” There are reasons. “I’ll remind ya again, that both the judge and attorney for ICE were being made aware of all your falsehoods and malicious allegations,” she wrote. Andara said that Contreras demanded thousands of dollars to dismiss her case.  

U.S. Immigration law is rife in the United States with lawyers who accept money from their clients but then do very little to help their cases.

“It’s very easy to make a lot of money losing asylum cases for $10,000 each and never really face any consequences,” says immigration attorney Brian Hoffman, who’s the executive director of the nonprofit Ohio Center for Strategic Immigration Litigation & Outreach. This problem is extremely serious and has been endemic since I can recall.

Because a case involving immigration requires you to navigate a maze of paperwork and that the rules change frequently, quality legal representation is costly. This makes Andara an attractive target for discount attorneys who claim big but fail to deliver.

Vazquez, Contreras and Harris declined to interview us, but we were connected with Harris, an additional one of their attorneys who stated that the charges against his client are fabrications. Harris stated, “To the extent people are saying Mr. Vasquez, and others associated with this company are, quote: ‘abandoning’ them or scamming, I believe that is outlandish.”

Harris said that sometimes these people can be very aggressive and don’t get it, especially when they are from places like Venezuela and Ecuador. They don’t always understand American processes and demand money back if they don’t see the desired results. 

Vazquez’s accusers claimed that they were afraid to come out. Patricia Poleo, an investigative journalist and winner of King of Spain Journalism Award, decided to expose Vazquez. She has shared video evidence from Vazquez’s ex-clients on her evening show for the last month. Agárrate.

Vazquez filed a lawsuit against Poleo at Miami Civil Court on November 10th, together with four former clients of hers who were present on the show. All of these allegations were denied in the lawsuit. assertsPoleo tried to devastate Vazquez’s law practice in order to profit from other immigration attorneys who advertised on her program. According to the complaint, Poleo “hide from consumers her financial interests to destroy Plaintiffs” in order to “get clients and divert them towards her business partners.” 

Harris said There are reasonsAccording to his client, he plans to amend and add to the original complaint in order for Poleo to be charged with defamation. Harris stated, “I’m a First Amendment guy. It makes sense to me.” There are reasons. “But she is going above and beyond.”

Poleo captured the video on Instagram and it has been since removed Currently, she is running for her political nightly showPoleo was attacked by Contreras, Vazquez, and Contreras. “You’re not a person of God—you’re a bitch,” Contreras shouted.

Vazquez asserts to be an outspoken opponent of Venezuela’s government. He said, “The Chavistas don’t like me because they won’t let me help.” . “Patricia, a Chavista close to me,” Contreras shoutedShe said that Rolando was helping detained people by saving them from the Maduro regime’s grasps. According to the lawsuit, Poleo’s hatred of Vazquez stems from her “hatred” for his political views.

It’s a surprising claim to make about Patricia Poleo, who was exposing Hugo Chávez’s efforts to undermine Venezuela’s constitutional democracy back when he was still a darling of the left. As the paper’s editorial director in 2004, El Nuevo País,Poleo was accused “instigating rebellion“for sharing a video showing that Cubans infiltrated Venezuela’s National Guard. This is just one example of many instances where her reporting has embarrassed the socialist government. In the same year, the secret police searched her house and called her to appear before a military court as part of their investigation into the murder of a Venezuelan prosecution. Poleo, who was hiding on a boat, escaped from the Venezuelan government’s 2005 warrant of her arrest. Poleo was detained by the Venezuelan government and sent a request to INTERPOL for extradition. She was then taken into custody at an international airport in Peru. After the agency admitted that Poleo’s attempt to bring him up was political motivated, the matter was finally dropped.

The ChávezAnd Maduro regimes for years have used bogus defamation lawsuits, among other tactics, to silence journalists and Newspaper shutterCritical of the government. In 2004, Poleo herself was sued for defamation by Jesse Chacón, Minister of Interior and Justice under Chávez, for embarrassing him in the pages of El Nuevo País. She lost all her political rights including the right to vote and was sentenced at six months imprisonment, but she never served any prison time.

Poleo returned to Venezuela in 2015 and continued reporting with a hard edge on Venezuela’s corrupt government. A 2015 story she wrote was published in the Doral News alleging that the Miami businessman Gianfranco Rondón served as the “bag man” for Diosdado Cabello, the second most powerful political figure in Venezuela, who isU.S. Department of State:on the basis of allegations that Poleo was involved in “corrupt and violent Narco-terrorism.” Rondon filed a lawsuit against Poleo and Gianfranco Napolitano Napolitano for racketeering and defamation after the article was published. Napolitano had been accused of trying to extort $5 million from Rondon in return for the publication of the story. They were eventually dismissed.

A recent Instagram Live videoPoleo laughed at Vazquez’s lawsuit while warmly greeting her fans and eating a hearty ham and cheese sandwich. She assured her audience that if she was willing to risk her freedom by speaking truth to the Chávez regime, she wasn’t about to be silenced by a Miami immigration attorney. “There is no U.S. judge that will make me stop speaking my mind because the First Amendment protects freedom of speech. She saidWhile smiling, she waved her legal complaint in her hands.

Barakat claimed that Vazquez was Vazquez’s attorney prior to the Florida Bar in an interview. There are reasonsPoleo claims that she is trying to “extort” Vazquez. However, when asked, he said that there was no proof that Poleo received or requested payment from Vazquez. He pointed to Rondón’s defamation and racketeering suit, claiming that it shows “a pattern of somebody who deliberately attempts to ruin the reputation of people that she targets in an effort to either benefit herself or benefit others.” 

Poleo answered my question about “extortion” and said that she would answer the public on her evening show. Poleo’s opening monologue reflected upon the topic. back on the Gianfranco Rondón lawsuit cited by Barakat. Her reporting, she said, led the FBI to freeze his assets, and Rondón fled to Russia. Poleo stated, “My “pattern” of conduct is demonizing thieves, criminals and corrupt actors and Chavistas.” He added, “and it’s done with dignity and great pride.”

Vazquez stated that Vazquez’s attorneys do not have a substantive answer to her allegations. Their only defense against her is attacking her. Barakat on the other hand, said that she has not earned a dollar. [Vazquez and Contreras]”It was taken from immigrants.”

Barakat was also a speaker There are reasonsPoleo has been manipulating Vazquez’s ex clients. Poleo is manipulating ex-clients of Vazquez, he said. There are reasons“I am suggesting that they are all being coached to by Ms. Poleo.”

Ex-clients are now able to communicate on WhatsApp. They can share horror stories and strategize with each other, as well as offer emotional support and encouragement. One group is called Desenmascarando a RolandoThe name translates to “unmasking Rolando”, and members of the organization have started to call the self-described Angel of the Border “The Devil of the Border” or simply “Angel of the Border.” RobandoIt means “robbing” which is a play on the first name of Rolando. Poleo said that while she is active in the group she does not hide her involvement in helping Vazquez get disbarred. She said, “I will advice them. I will support and help them. I am a Venezuelan.” told her audience.

What is the secret to Vazquez’s glowing Instagram accounts?

Neleidy’s Aguilar case could be an indicator. Neleidy Aguilar was seen in an Video that Vazquez shared on his feed testifying that he’s “a very good lawyer and very accomplished…I recommend him to the entire world!”

The video was shot during Aguilar’s initial consultation in Orlando with Vazquez. Aguilar states that she had not yet worked with Vazquez, but she was willing to sign an endorsement as their interactions were positive. She stated, “I believed what I was saying at that time.” There are reasons.

Aguilar had been forced to flee Venezuela when she and her husband, Leonardo González, acted as whistleblowers in exposing a corrupt judge. Local police stormed in and kidnapped them, beating them. Aguilar who was then pregnant claims that she sustained a placental injury from having her stomach punched. González nearly died from his injuries.

Upon entering the U.S., González was taken to the Eden Detention Center in Texas and held for 7 months, while Aguilar was allowed to enter the country with her 10-year old son Sebastian.. A severe asthmatic, González nearly died from lack of medical attention, and he missed the birth of their baby girl, Paula. 

Aguilar asserts that Vazquez did not do anything for her case. She never filed her asylum petition and he never registered to be her attorney. According to the complaint Aguilar filed with Florida Bar, Contreras stated to Mrs. Neleidy that he had told her that her case wasn’t a priority and she was prohibited from calling. “I will charge $300 if you call me again.”

The woman hired another lawyer. 

Annia Marcquez was another victim. Annia also made an Instagram endorsement for Vazquez. Later, she was Participated in Poleo’s ShowHe is being criticized. Marquez is among the former clients Vazquez sued for defamation.

Marquez fled Venezuela because of political persecution—she was in hiding from the secret police for more than a year. Marquez spent 10 months behind bars in Arizona after she arrived in the U.S. According to Marquez, she was placed in a seven-by-10 foot cell with one twenty-minute break every day. One meal was provided daily. She had a peanut butter cookie or ham sandwich. However, her anxiety meant that she didn’t feel hungry often.

Marquez asserts that Vazquez would have allowed her to be released much sooner had she, Marquez’s sister, found her on Instagram. The judge issued a series if postponements over a period of months, resulting in Marquez being released from her detention. Harris, the attorney, said There are reasons:That is what I believe. [Mr. Vazquez]attended all of the hearings for which he was asked to appear. (Marquez and Marquez had court records in common There are reasonsShe will be able to support her account.

Vazquez showed up to the fourth hearing. Marquez was required to cover his expenses of $6,000 which includes a first-class flight ticket.

Marquez received asylum in Miami and was moved there by Contreras & Vazquez. She accepted to work with them.

Marquez said that when one leaves such a center, it’s very vulnerable. There are reasonsShe explained why she accepted a job to help someone she believes has mishandled her case. They asked her to make a short video for social media, recommending their services shortly after she started the job. 

Marquez stated, “I felt like a no,” It was alleged that she had She witnessed Vazquez commit malpractice in over 20 cases during the month-and-a half she worked in Vazquez’s office. She plans to testify to what she saw to the Florida Bar.

Marquez is a Miami shipping agent and has paid back money that she borrowed from her godfather in order to pay Vazquez. Since her mother’s death from COVID-19 in February, Marquez and her three children aged 7, 17 and 19 have lived alone in Venezuela. 

Geraldine Mora, another victim of Vazquez, has been featured on Poleo’s program. A feature-length documentary about her is produced by Reason, The documentary, which I co-direct with Claudia Murray and is about the economic as well as political fall of Venezuela. 

After her father was tortured by Maduro, Mora fled. While applying for asylum, Mora and her husband Brian and their son David lived on the Mexican border and became Vazquez’s clients.

Mora was charged by Vazquez $6,000 with $2,500 down and monthly payments over 10 months. The family received their first installment of $350 in monthly payments on February 2, 2020. This was two days prior to Mora’s scheduled Texas hearing. 

Mora’s mother, Nelsy Núñez, alleges that Contreras called her to demand that she pay the remaining $3,500 within two hours or Vazquez wouldn’t show up at the upcoming hearing And she refused to present her asylum claim to the court. I was in Miami filming with the Mora family as they navigated this crisis, capturing a tearful interview with Núñez in a Miami parking lot as the family considered what to do.

Barakat refused to discuss the details of Mora’s case but said There are reasonsYou don’t need to work, even though Ms. Poleo states in her reporting.

Hoffman told the story despite not having direct knowledge about Vazquez’s handling of Mora. There are reasonsAn attorney’s fundamental rules of conduct prohibits you from asking for payment to submit documentation. To withdraw services you must inform the client of your intention to do so in enough time. 

Hoffman said, “Saying that I’m not going do this unless it’s paid for right away,'” Hoffman added.

Mora and Conteras came up with an arrangement. However, Vazquez failed to show up for the February 3 hearing. According to Mora, the judge informed her that Vazquez had not filed any paperwork nor was she a registered attorney. Her allegations include that Vazquez ignored her calls for a long time and continued verbally harassing her.

Meanwhile, Vazquez dropped her case. Núñez says that on top of the $6,000 legal fee, the family spent $2,800 to get documents supporting their case translated and notarized at Contreras’ request. Mora claims that his office has all original documents, with the exception of one return form. He is refusing to give them back to the family. (There are reasonsThis claim has been supported by texts.

Vazquez’ $6,000 fees were a burden to the Mora clan, however, given the challenges involved in winning it, it’s still a modest amount.

Hoffman stated that the U.S. government created an asylum system in which it was almost impossible for people to win. There are reasons. You can take an asylum case on your own and have it properly litigated. [often]The person applying for asylum doesn’t have enough money to cover that time. 

These are the 71,071 asylum claimsAccording to “Remain in Mexico”, 32,234 applicants were denied and 25,684 are still open. Just 740 people, which is one percent, received protection in the U.S.A. Asylum or similar protection. Also, only 10% of those who applied had an attorney present during the proceedings.

Hoffman spoke out about Hoffman’s representation of El Salvadoran asylum applicants. Hoffman is funded through charitable donations. We’ve likely gotten about a quarter million dollars in free legal help over the four-year period with him, and the case will probably continue for another two years.”

On Thanksgiving, members of the WhatsApp group “Unmasking Rolando” shared pictures of their turkeys, and Poleo published a special episode of her show featuring members of this “new family that I acquired at the end of the year—a family of immigrants who have been through moments that are terrible, tragic, and very difficult.” 

Ex-Vazquez clients sent videos to express their gratitude. Annia Marquez said that she is grateful to America for opening her doors and allowing her to grow as an individual, as well as freedom to be free, in order to feel not persecuted. Javier Bracho was joined by Nathan and Noah to express their gratitude “to this beautiful nation” that gave them a chance not to be persecuted as well as the ability to grow their families.

And Poleo herself expressed thanks to “the United States—for giving me the freedom to have an independent platform in which I’m able to give a voice to these immigrants.”

Translation assistance by María Jose Inojosa Salina.