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“The Andean region, from Colombia to Venezuela, is a very probable objective of a U.S. invasion, whose project needs new invasions.”

Noam Chomsky

Beyond the latest pronouncements of Roger Noriega or Colin Powell and the “repair” just completed process, all indications are that the most radical sectors of Venezuela’s opposition intend to repeat a similar script to the one of April 2002. To organize a massacre and, with the support of the mass media, to accuse the Venezuelan armed forces-and in this way the commander in chief, Hugo Chavez-of genocide, so as to appeal for a foreign intervention.

These groups-encouraged by the fact that they were the ruling class in Venezuela for over forty years-have various problems. First, they have no concept of nation or sovereignty and a total lack of patriotism. Since they did not achieve a landing of U.S. marines (which more than one businessman called for via the private mass media), are now trying to incite such an action via Colombian assassins.

When on the last day of October 2002 President Chavez told the foreign press that he was aware of the fact that he would be governing for a long time in the midst of an inevitable low-intensity conflict, he recognized that the country was heading towards a “colombianization” of its domestic politics.

Permanent low-intensity conflicts, the installation of Colombian phenomena such as assassins (“sicarios”)-over 80 peasants and community leaders assassinated-and the paramilitary forces, along with appeals to terrorism as a political weapon-bombs placed in foreign representations, assassination attempts on the President, assassination of peasant leaders-confirms a climate that is rarefied and hardened by a private press that spreads as valid all test balloons of the Colombian military intelligence service, and the participation of Colombian businessmen (the same ones who for over five decades have profited from the violence in their country) in Venezuelan political life.

The political episodes of the country went from the coup of 2002, to the insubordination of a group of coup-plotting officers, to the oil industry strike-sabotage between December 2002 and January 2003, to the effort to spur urban violence via “guarimbas,” [1] to the capture of 130 Colombian paramilitary fighters in Venezuela, merely 20 kilometers from the center of Caracas. These phases confirm that Plan Colombia is gradually becoming involved, destabilizing Venezuela.

“To free Cuba, support the Venezuelan referendum”,indicated an article of Diego Arria, the former Ambassador of former President Carlos Andrés Perez to the United Nations. “The best way to remake democracy in Cuba is not by increasing the inefficient economic sanctions. Rather, it is by helping Venezuela recover its own democracy, which is being stolen, bit by bit, by Hugo Chavez, the increasingly more dictatorial President of Venezuela.”

The Paramilitaries

The capture of Colombian paramilitary forces in a hacienda, a mere 20 kilometers from Caracas-headed by three “comandantes” accustomed to crime, 40 reservists, around 20 professional soldiers who are active in the military, and a contingent of young unemployed novices, including nine minors who were turned over to Colombian authorities-proves that various factors such as Cuban exiles, narco-traffickers, the Colombian oligarchy, “hawks” from the United States, and the owners of the private mass media are making efforts to destabilize and militarily occupy Venezuela, one of the countries with the largest oil reserves in the western hemisphere.

But this time it is not just about oil: it’s that in Venezuela a democratic government -and using peaceful means- has dared to maintain a policy independent of Washington and to propose socio-economic policies that favor the large majority, who were marginalized for decades by a formal and bi-partisan democracy.

Venezuela’s opposition, which is incapable of unifying or of even having a common plan, knows that it will not be easy to get rid of Chavez via a vote. The most recent surveys, conducted by the opposition itself, confirm this. Therefore they appeal to the only resource they have, in order to once again enjoy the corrupt power of more than 40 years of formal democracy: violence and presidential assassination. The private mass media, the stimulators of violence, orchestrate and direct the publicity to justify a foreign intervention under the pre-text of dislodging a regime that does not follow the directive of Washington. Ironically, the excuse to dislodge the president from power is precisely a belief system through which one aims to make the government appear as though the government is tied to terrorism and the drug mafia. This argument does not have the least bit of evidence behind it: if any administration has been hard on drug trafficking, then it has been the Chavez presidency. If any administration has been the victim of terrorism, then it is precisely this one.

What calls one’s attention is the lack of definition within the opposition, that is, its complete disengagement from violence committed by foreigners on Venezuelan soil.

The Colombian legislator, for the Democratic Pole, indicated on February 25, 2003 that “the paramilitary tactic is to unify strength, to concentrate men and resources in the frontier. The will wait for two things: either an extreme and powerful opposition sector contracts them to make war within Venezuela, in the style of the Nicaraguan Contras, or that the U.S. government itself, once it gets out of Iraq, if it goes well, decides to support these paramilitary forces in order to intervene in Venezuela. The paramilitaries are waiting for this and this is why they control the frontier and are constantly concentrating more weapons and equipment there. This is a truth that Uribe does not take into account.”

The fall of the paramilitary forces is merely one more accident in the path of those who are preparing , for over two years now, a civil war, a massacre. Despite the minimization, the banalization, that the commercial press-Venezuelan as well as international-did of the facts, today war seems to knock on the door of all Venezuelans (please excuse the dramatic tone, but this is the truth). Importing Colombian narco-terrorists in order to assassinate the president and to sow chaos in Venezuela was, until now, the last play of the extreme right, powerful economic sectors, the United States, and of Bogotá’s oligarchy in order to interrupt the process of democratic social transformations that Hugo Chavez directs.

The main objectives of the paramilitary forces consisted of, plainly and simply, of assassinating Hugo Chavez, who was to have dinner on the night of Wednesday May 12 with a group of Bankers in the presidential residency La Casona, revealed the Colombian journalist Ernesto Carmona to Vice-President Rangel. Simultaneously, another group would attack the Mirflores presidential palace and the rest would attack at least two arms depositories of the National Guard and the airbase La Carlota. An active duty air force officer was going to take control over an airplane in order to drop some bombs on the city.

The most important arrest made in those days was of General Usón, Chavez’ finance minister during the coup attempt of April 11, 2002, who was captured this last May 22nd in Puerto Ordaz. The police is still looking for Nestor González González, another retired general who was involved in the logistics that allowed the narco-terrorists to cross the country without being detected.

Vice-president José Vicente Rangel made public the resume of the leaders of the group that was captured in the Daktari ranch, owned by Roberto Alonso, a Cuban emigrant and U.S. and Venezuelan citizen, who invented the “guarimba,” and brother of the former singer and Hollywood actress Maria Conchita Alonso.

The three captured paramilitary leaders are extremely criminal individuals, responsible for numerous assassinations against Colombian peasants, experts in the “tie cut”-a cut to the throat that slowly bleeds the victim to death-, the castration of men, and the cutting of women’s nipples.

The main leader was “Comandante Lucas,” José Ernesto Ayala Amado, who had proposed beheading Chavez while smoking a Havana cigar, according to the confessions obtained by interrogators. Lucas conducted some “exercises” during the training of his men: he murdered three who tried to desert. A photograph of an exhumed corpse, that had died 15 to 20 days earlier, exhibits the “tie cut” and the gut emptied, a paramilitary technique that slows down the decomposition of corpses. Rangel affirmed, before international diplomats, with graphic documents in hand, that in Homestead, Florida is a training camp for paramilitaries who intend to act in Venezuela. He showed photographs of the field leader in full activity, the former captain of the National Guard, Luis Garcia, who acts with impunity in the face of the passivity of U.S. authorities. Eloquently, the vice-president asked the diplomats to take their hands off of Venezuela and to let the opposition act on its own.

The “repair” process

There is no doubt that the Venezuelan right is playing two games. The first appears legal and democratic and the other is illegal and subversive. But, despite being able to count on the private mass media-written, radio, and above all televised-that is committed to the most radical sectors, the opposition has not even managed to agree on a plan of action, on a proposal for the country, and even less so on a candidate to succeed Chavez. The U.S. and Spain are trying to impose the coup plotting businessman Gustavo Cisneros, as a possible Berlusconi for Venezuela.

For these sectors the only solution appears to be presidential assassination or coup d’état, which it proclaims deftly and sinisterly via a (not only) mediatic terrorism which has been going on for the past four years with complete impunity.

It is true that the opposition can count on several active duty officers of the Armed Forces, even though most of these do not command any troops and are watched very carefully by their subalterns. Even though they can count on excellent scriptwriters, successful authors of coups, genocide, and assassinations along the length and breadth of Latin America, Venezuela’s more radical opposition seems to be tied to a single script: to generate deaths in order to generate intervention, foreign intervention.

The Colombian paramilitaries were contracted to wear uniforms of the Venezuelan army and to commit a massacre in some urbanization in the east of Caracas (perhaps the same day as the signature re-certification), duly documented by the private television channels, attributing the act to the armed forces and demand-with “a little help” from their foreign friends (Colombian businessmen, sectors of the U.S. government, Cuban exiles from Miami, U.S. and Spanish transnational companies, television channels that depend on the economic power of these friends)-foreign intervention in order to dislodge Chavez and his reforms from power.

This same script, which was written in part by the international community in April 2002 (until the excellent work of the filmmaker Angel Palacios showed who the real assassins of Puente Llaguno were and how the sinister montage of the TV channel Venevision was concocted, which even received a prize in Spain). [2] This same script, with the same sponsors, which is not being repeated, even though in this opportunity one is counting on foreign mercenaries, Colombian paramilitaries, who are internationally known not just for their genocides, but also for being among the bloodiest and most inhuman people on earth.

The self-esteem of the marginalized

But the Chavez government continues to develop its “missions” against illiteracy, incorporating thousands of students into new free universities, implementing programs so that all may complete high school, bringing health care to the poor barrios, and strengthening cooperatives, micro-enterprises, and small and medium industry, particularly in the agro-industrial sector. New subway lines are being constructed, sugar production restarted, two train lines, freeways and roads... but none of this is spread via the private mass media. The missions have achieved a fundamental objective for the future of the project: to elevate the self-esteem of the poor.

Perhaps for the first time in the history of the country Venezuela is sowing its oil. [3] The disaster that the opposition proclaims contradict the macro-economic figures: international reserves are beating all records, ($24.5 billion, enough to pay the entire foreign debt and to hold out for a while) and economic growth for the first quarter of 2004 29.8%. Venezuela’s policy of strengthening OPEC has resulted in high oil prices, whose dividends for the first time reach the most disadvantaged masses. The economic model that Chavez is promoting orients public expenditures towards projects that emphasize human development.

Planning Minister Jorge Giordani speaks of a transition, not of a revolution, because capitalism is in no danger here, but rather the neo-conservative model (the government strengthens small businesses and cooperatives). What is certain is the former masters of Venezuela do not tolerate so much change and even less so social transformation processes in favor of the poor in the region, even when promoted by governments that were elected by the most orthodox rules of “representative democracy.”

In a qualitative twist, Chavez openly proclaimed the anti-imperialist character of the process that he calls the “Bolivarian revolution and-merely interpreting the constitution-called for the creation of militias to defend it. Any who so desires, man or woman, may enroll themselves and receive military instruction. This is a new concept of “integral defense” that goes beyond the simple reincorporation of reservists. This is a concept that the dominant class does not like much, which had dreamt of see the Marines land in La Guaira. [4]

From a new coup to “iraqization”

The government of Hugo Chavez holds perhaps a record in attempted coups: more than a dozen in less than five years, almost all of them aborted by their own organizers, the most spectacular being the one of April 11, 2002, which brought the dictatorship of businessman Pedro Carmona to power for less than 47 hours, in a surgical operation supported and financed from outside the country.

This intelligence action of the Venezuelan security forces leave open the role of narco-traffickers and of Colombian paramilitaries as an essential element in the directives of Plan Colombia, the primary element in the campaign to discredit the Chavez government. The owners of the private mass media are the spear tip in the mediatic offensive that is repeated throughout the length and breadth of the world.

The journalist Miguel Salazar accused that “a new coup attempt is being put into place again, if their organizers ever even took a break. This time around the coalition is much broader and committed, directly and indirectly. From business people to priests and union leaders, to even functionaries and political speakers of the government itself. None the less, the fundamental role of foreign intervention is one that the business sector of Colombia is playing for, which has been tremendously affected in its balance sheets after seeing its business deals with Venezuela go up in smoke. Also, this time, the biggest narco-traffickers of Latin America are conspiring against Chavez.”

Salazar indicates that after the coup the repression will be brutal against the components of the media that currently are delirious adversaries of the government, as well as against human rights organizations that now are part of the strategy of destabilization. Salazar also affirms that the sedition penetrates the Bolivarian military ranks. “The seditious circle has been closing its tentacles from within the regime itself. Until now there is more than one functionary committed to a scenario similar to the one Grenada went through during the invasion by the Reagan administration.”

Recently the financial support for the coup network has been reappearing: bank accounts are being opened in the exterior, counting on the indifference of the different governments that are committed to the overthrow of Chavez. In diplomatic circles there is talk of a new commotion in the oil industry and of a transportation strike promoted and sustained by the Colombian business sector, in order to accelerate an implosion that would provide a foothold for calling for foreign intervention. The “final end would be to capture Hugo Chavez in order to put him into a jail in the United States while a trial is opened on the charge of terrorism and narco-trafficking,” according to Salazar. What is definite is that Venezuela covers 15% of the U.S. demand for oil and by 2009 it would be in a position to triple this supply, without neglecting its obligations as provider for Latin America and its projects of integration and energy complementation via PetroAmerica. [5]

The risk is always there: this country is much closer than Iraq. And if two years ago we spoke of a colombianization of Venezuela, we now must fear an iraqization. And, once again, please excuse the drama.

Translated by Gregory Wilpert
This article originally appeared in the June 2004
issue of the Venezuelan monthly magazine Question.

[1] “Guarimba” is the name that opposition organizers gave to the street blockades and the clashes with state security forces.

[2] The video, “Keyes to a Massacre” by Angel Palacios will soon be released in English. It shows in great detail how most of the deaths on April 11 occurred and how the opposition tried to falsely blame these deaths on Chavez supporters and on Chavez himself.

[3] A reference to a slogan of the oil-boom years during the 1970’s, when Venezuela was supposed to “sow the oil”.

[4] La Guaira is the port near Caracas.

[5] PetroAmerica or PetroSur is the proposed unification of Latin American state-owned oil companies that Chavez has proposed.