President Hugo Chavez ties to terrorism
by Antonio Guzman-Blanco
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his government are actively involved in promoting state-sponsored terrorism. To this end, the Chavez regime has orchestrated the creation of civilian "Bolivarian Circles".
Organized and led by Minister of the Interior and Justice, Diosdado Cabello and by Mayor Freddy Bernal, it is widely believed that many of these "Circles of Terror" are heavily armed and that their members are being trained in paramilitary and terrorist activities, by military personnel and Cuban advisors. President Chavez has often publicly incited them to commit crimes when he has ordered them to defend his revolution with weapons or whatever means are available to them and to carry out acts of intimidation and violence against the opposition and the media.
In a recent escalation of violence, last Friday, December 6, a gunman who is reasonably presumed to be closely tied to these terrorist circles, opened fire on a group of men, women and children who were peacefully attending a gathering of the opposition at Plaza Francia in Caracas' mostly middle-class sector called Altamira. Three people were killed, including a 17 year old girl, a middle aged university professor and an elderly lady, and 28 people were wounded, including a 7 year old girl, who is still in intensive care. One lone shooter was overpowered by those present and handed over to the Municipal authorities. Given the high number of casualties, it is almost certain (although yet unproven) that more than one shooter was involved. Strong evidence suggests the involvement of snipers. Meanwhile, the investigative police who is charged with getting to the bottom of this crime, is dragging its feet and essentially obstructing the investigation.
A few nights later, these terrorist circles, in a skillfully coordinated effort which involved several hundred people, attacked 21 newspaper printing shops, television and radio stations, in Caracas and Venezuela's other major cities, under the complacent look of the authorities who are loyal to Chavez. People were wounded, property was destroyed and the damages are worth several million dollars. While all this has been taking place, organized roving bands of Chavez sympathizers have sought out and engaged peaceful members of the opposition, in violent confrontations, which have resulted in one dead and several wounded members of the opposition.
President Chavez maintains close ties to the FARC and ELN Marxist / drug trafficking guerrilla terrorists that operate in Colombia. Members of these organizations, together with Cuban citizens who support his "revolution", operate freely in Venezuela and have been inducted covertly into the Venezuelan military forces (see excerpts from STRATFOR analysis below).
Chavez has been sympathetic to the regimes in Libya, Iran and Iraq and has been recently tied to the ETA Basque terrorist organization. It is widely believed that he also has ties to Arab terrorist organizations, and that he provided safe passage to Colombia, for several IRA operatives who were recently captured by the Colombian government and, who are presently standing trial on charges of subversion and other terrorist activities. Also, he ran afoul of the US and President Bush, when he publicly equated the killing of civilians in Afghanistan by the US military, to the 11th September, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US.
Chavez' government has never taken a clear-cut, proactive stance against terrorism. The few public statements it has issued on the subject, are clearly perceived as being too little, too late, contradictory and insincere.
Strategic Forecasting - STRATFOR
December 09, 2002:
"The government of embattled President Hugo Chavez is arming hundreds
of civilian supporters, at least three small groups of Colombian rebels have
crossed the border into Venezuela, and individuals believed to be Cuban nationals
have been spied in Caracas and Maracaibo wearing Venezuelan military uniforms,
according to military intelligence (DIM) and police.
"Military intelligence sources say that at least three small groups of rebels believed to be Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas have been identified in the border city of Puerto Ayacucho, in Venezuela's Amazon region; the central city of Maracay and the state of Trujillo, near the border with Colombia. The sources were unable to give details on the size of these groups but said they are believed to be small urban units trained in small-scale street attacks.
"The purpose of a Colombian rebel infiltration apparently would be to create panic and confusion by attacking opposition groups in different parts of the country, once fighting breaks out between pro- and anti-Chavez military units.
"DIM sources also say that several Cuban nationals have established a presence in the country, and that some are believed to be disguised as Venezuelan military personnel. A clandestine Cuban presence reportedly has been confirmed in both Maracaibo and Caracas. Additionally, dissident military leaders very recently publicized immigration movement documents that show more than 6,000 Cuban nationals -- most of them men travelling without women or families -- have entered Venezuela since early 2001."