For more background see:
- Search for More Paramilitary Forces Continues in Venezuela
- More Anti-Government Paramilitaries Captured in Venezuela
- Venezuela Captures Paramilitary Group Seeking to Overthrow Chavez
A beleaguered democracy beset by continual terrorist attacks by ruthless, depraved, and highly imaginative terrorists managed to foil a terrorist plot yesterday. By taking swift, decisive police action, a terrorist training camp full of foreign fighters and outside agitators were apprehended. Despite the depraved nature of the terrorist threat against democracy, the democratic country continues to hold itself up to higher standards of human rights and democratic process.
Some 88 Colombian paramilitaries were apprehended on Sunday May 9 at a ranch, El Hatillo, near Caracas, in Venezuela. These 88 were part of a larger group of 130 who had entered the country. According to the testimony of one of these captured Colombians, the group was training and preparing for yet another operation to overthrow the Venezuelan government.
The plan, as reported by Vheadline.com, seems bizarre:
"According to statements released this morning [May 9] by [Venezuelan Police] Commissioner Miguel Rodriguez, the terrorist plan consisted of attacking a military installation in Caracas this week, possibly the Urban Security Command of the National Guard. On Monday, the paramilitaries were to be taken to another ranch, where they would receive final training with arms and ammunition, and do the assault on Wednesday. "We were going to attack a military base that has tunnels underneath containing arms," said the presumed paramilitary. The purpose, according to one of the anti-Chavez "generals," was to steal arms from the base to give to a 3,000 strong paramilitary group who were to come to Venezuela in 8 days." (1)
There were also, according to Venezuelan authorities, active members of Venezuela's military involved in the plot. In addition to the plan to take over the state, terrorist attacks were also planned.
The ranch belongs to Robert Alonso, an anti-Castro Cuban, high-profile member of the Venezuelan 'opposition' (brother of actor Maria Conchita Alonso). But the testimony of the Colombian paramilitary who describes the battle plan is somewhat suspicious.
The interview, conducted by journalist Darvin Romero Montiel, features one of the captured Colombians who gave an anonymous testimony on camera wearing a mask (for obvious security reasons). He claimed that the Colombians were paid about $250 USD to work. The man, a Colombian army reservist, says he was under the impression that he would be going to do agricultural work in the countryside, but, along with the others, was then informed that he would be training for a major military operation. "When we learned what was really going on," he said, "more than one Colombian wanted to escape. One Colombian tried, but they caught him after 100 metres, and told him the next time they would kill him, and they took our papers."
This seems an unlikely story. There are large numbers of battle-hardened, cold-blooded, well-trained Colombian paramiltaries and soldiers who have already conducted operations on the Colombia-Venezuela border. Would the plotters of a coup really choose duped reservists as the advance guard of a mission to infiltrate, commit terrorist attacks, and overthrow a government? And the captured paramilitaries have, after all, every reason to lie.
Reactions are coming fast and furious. Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, framed the issue in explicitly anti-terrorist terms. "We've struck a blow against coup-plotters, destabilizers, and terrorists, in this endless struggle against terrorism, destabilization, and the enemies of democracy and the people." The whole operation was an assassination attempt: "They came to kill me."
He also made an important reference to the treatment of the Colombian prisoners by the Venezuelan armed forces. "There will be no torture or hooding, no sadomasochism, because our soldiers and police are not sadistic."
The United States, whose armed forces have engaged in considerable amounts of torture, hooding, and sadism, rejected any idea that this plot could have come from the US, without providing any detail. Richard Boucher, the State Department's spokesperson, said: "I know there are some accusations that all this is part of some US conspiracy to overthrow the Chavez government. We categorically reject these declarations and shameful accusations."
The Colombian government has announced that it is prepared to cooperate with Venezuela in investigating the incident. Given that it is well-documented that the Colombian paramilitaries are little more than a segment of the Colombian military (2), and that the Colombian senate recently passed a resolution condemning the Venezuelan government, it is unlikely that this 'cooperation' will be of much help to Venezuela.
In a clever twist, Colombia's Vice-President reacted to the arrest of his paramilitaries, who were plotting a terrorist action against Venezuela, by saying that Venezuela must take a strong stand against terrorism!
The story is still incomplete. But if William Blum's 'Watergate law of politics' ("Don't believe anything until it has been officially denied") is on the books, this is just a continuation of "some US conspiracy to overthrow the Chavez government". Because the Venezuelan elite seems incapable of doing the job, the Colombian military and paramilitaries are being used. That plan has been in the works for years, and there have been paramilitary raids into Venezuela for well over a year (3). In Colombia itself, a major offensive, called 'Plan Patriota', is being planned, supposedly to attack the guerrillas in southern Colombia (but perhaps to attack Venezuela?) US Southern Command is asking that Congressional restrictions on numbers of US troops in Colombia be relaxed. Even as US troops smash their way through Najaf and Fallujah, even as photos of US troops engaged in sadistic torture traverse the world, these troops are being presented as the 'solution' to some kind of problem that Colombia and Venezuela have.
But they are the problem, not the solution.
(2) For a very recent article on the subject with plenty of recent evidence, see Fernando Garavito's 'Colombia's Para/military'. Also important is Hector Mondragon's 'March of the Orcs'
(3) I wrote about it a year ago: 'Colombia Attacks Venezuela -- Why?'