Dear president Hugo Chávez Frías

We write to you as persons who support your anti-imperialist policies and with the social changes that your government is carrying out in benefit of the Venezuelan majorities.

With this in mind, we are surprised to find that the Disip, part of the Venezuelan state security forces, has been actively involved with Colombian security agencies in the detention of Rodrigo Granda (better known as Ricardo González), a member of the international affairs staff of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

According to information from reliable sources, Granda was detained in Caracas last December 13th, and taken to Disip headquarters. Hours later, he was taken to Colombia in the trunk of a car, were he was "officially captured".

No legal or administrative process was followed, in clear transgression of Venezuelan and international laws.
It is important to recall, Mr. President, that Granda has been received by top State representatives and important political and social organizations from worldwide, as part of his diplomatic activity in pursuit of a negotiated political solution to the Colombian conflict.

This arrest, and the following kidnapping, are more similar to the way of acting of the Colombian authorities, and to the procedures of the dictatorships in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay -under the horrifying "Condor Plan"-, than to the policies of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela .
It is not the first time that this takes place, Mr. President.

There are several reports of murder and kidnapping of leaders of Colombian farmer movements and labor unions, in coordinated operations by Venezuelan authorities and Colombian official and/or paramilitary forces.

We believe that these procedures, particularly those by the Disip, are a serious attempt against your nation’s national security. Disip has violated Venezuelan sovereignty in allowing the Colombian security services, and paramilitary groups, to act with impunity in Venezuela.

And even more important: these circumstances cast doubt on the loyalty of high Disip officials, and of other state institutions, to the political process that you are forwarding. Mr. President, you have offered neutrality in the Colombian internal conflict, as well as cooperation to seek the road towards peace through political negotiation; in sharp contrast with the purposes of the United States and of Plan Colombia.

We respectfully request, Mr. President, that you order a special independent investigation to determine responsibilities in Granda’s kidnapping and, let’s hope, in the kidnappings of several Colombian social leaders in Venezuelan territory.

We respectfully request, that you continue taking the necessary measures to wipe out of the Venezuelan security forces, those who cooperate in the violation of your country’s sovereignty, who seek to isolate the Bolivarian Revolution from the support of the grass roots movements in Colombia and in the rest of the world.

Yours Truly, with Bolivarian solidarity

• James Petras, sociologist, United States.
• Hernando Calvo Ospina, writer, Colombia/France.
• Noam Chomsky, philologist, United States.
• Margarita López Maya, sociologist, Venezuela.
• Martín Almada, Alternative Nobel Prize winner 2002, Paraguay.
• Aram Aharonian, journalist, Uruguay/Venezuela.
• William Blum, former U.S. State Department official.
• Pablo Kilberg, journalist, Argentina.
• Ramón Chao, journalist, Spain/France.
• Pascual Serrano, journalist, Spain.
• François Houtart, theologist, Belgium.
• Marcelo Larrea, journalist, Ecuador.
• Carlos Fazio, journalist, Uruguay/México.
• Santiago Alba, writer, Spain.

January 4th 2005