Saturday, April 08, 2006

"There was a plan to destabilize Venezuela" 

Some extremely interesting information has just come to light via Colombia regarding the plots to overthrow or assasinate Chavez and the murder of the Venezuelan prosecutor Danilo Anderson. It would seem the Colombians were deeply involved in this and some Venezuelan opposition types, such as Patricia Poleo, may also have been involved. Or at least so says a very high ranking Colombian intelligence (D.A.S.) official who is now in a Colombian jail and is spilling the beans about both corruption within that agency and the plots against Venezuela.

I'll translate and post on it in the morning but in the meantime here it is in the Colombian news magazine Semana for those who can read spanish.

UPDATE: Here is the translation of the full article which speaks for itself:

In his exclusive interview with SEMANA the ex-director of systems of the DAS revealed how plans were made to assassinate high officials of our neighboring country.

One of the most delicate topics that SEMANA covered with the ex-boss of information systems for DAS, Rafael Garcia, was that of Venezuela. In the interview he asserted that being official of the intelligence agency, he was a witness of the plot against the president, Hugo Chavez, in which, according to Garcia, participated the then director of DAS Jorge Noguera. “I am a personal witness to the things that happened.” He also said he knew of plans that were hatched to assassinate various Venezuelan government officials, among whom were the Venezuelan president. Just that is very grave news. The case of Venezuela began two years ago when authorities in that country surprised 114 Colombian near Caracas and Chavez said that there was a plot against him. Months later it was shown that the group was a mix of young campesinos from the north of Santander and paramilitaries for the North Block Self Defense commanded by Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias ‘Jorge 40’.

“There isn’t any doubt that these groups are organizing to commit an assassination,” asserted President Chavez the day of the capture of the Venezuelans.

Six months afterwards prosecutor Danilo Anderson was assassinated in the streets of Caracas and the president called him “ a valiant prosecutor and a martyr of the Bolivarian Revolution”. There hadn’t been a similar terrorist attack in that country in more than 30 years and it was supposed that the attack was political in nature.

The worst for Colombia occurred in November 2005. The Venezuelan Attorney General gave credibility to the versions of Geovanny Jose Vasque de Armas, who was 36 years old, who after asking for protection from the government of Hugo Chavez, said he was put back in the paramilitaries (AUC) to perform intelligence work for the DAS. Based on his testimony the Venezuelan authorities accused the ex-director of the DAS, Joge Noguera, of having advance knowledge of a plan to assassinate high Venezuelan officials including the prosecutor Anderson and President Chavez.

Immediately, the AUC witness was called a serial liar by some in Colombia and for many he was not credible. Noguera himself, in an interview with SEMANA, classified him as such. Nevertheless, Garcia affirms the opposite in his interview:

SEMANA: Whose idea was the conspiracy against Venezuela?

Rafael Garcia: It was a big process. But I prefer to speak to the prosecutor about that.

SEMANA: Did you know that Jorge Noguera was conspiring against President Chavez?

R.G.: Many of the things that they have said are true. I am a first hand witness to them. I was always on top of what they were doing with that.

SEMANA: What exactly did you know?

R.G.: That there existed a destabilization plan against the Venezuelan government. As far as I knew there were two people that knew, an ex-director of intelligence of DAS and I. And in terms of high level Colombian government officials there were six people involved but I’m not going to give their names.

SEMANA: Is it true that you accompanied Jorge Noguera to some of the meetings in Venezuela where they met to discuss the plan?

R.G.: I’m not going to answer that.

SEMANA: Did that same group plan the murder of the Venezuelan prosecutor Danilo Anderson?

R.G.: The plan contemplated the assassination of various leaders of that country. The plans which I knew about didn’t include Anderson. Maybe that was a mistake or perhaps further on they changed the plan. The plan was against high government officials including Chavez.

SEMANA: Do you know if the journalist Patricia Poleo participated in this?

R.G.: I know she is friends with ‘Jorge 40”

[Patricia Poleo is an opposition journalist who the government has accused of participating in the meeting where Danilo Anderson’s murder was planned. She has steadfastly denied any involvement but rather than meet with prosecutors to answer their questions she fled to Miami – OW]

SEMANA: As far as you know is there a relationship between Jorge Noguera and ‘Jorge 40’ in the conspiracy to assassinate Hugo Chavez?

R.G.: Yes, Yes there is.

SEMANA: Do you know if ‘Jorge 40’ was present in the planning meetings that were held in Maracaibo?

R.G.: I’m not going to answer that.

SEMANA: Why haven’t you told all this to the prosecutors?

R.G.: I have already told the Attorney General that I need protection for me and my family.

SEMANA: Would you be willing to tell everything that you know to the Venezuelan authorities?

R.G.: I would prefer to take care of my legal problems in Colombia, but I wouldn’t have any problem talking to them.

SEMANA: Does president Alvaro Uribe know about all this?

R.G.: I don’t know. The only thing I can say is that in December of 2002 I received instructions to place an monitoring system in the border post of Paraguanchon, en La Guajira, at a very high price, so as to have all the DAS information available on the Venezuelan border. It was the first border post that had this system and I remember that Jorge Noguera put a lot of pressure on me to do it. I had to use half of all our people in order to be able to complete that in record time.

SEMANA: How long did it take?

R.G.: We did it in 15 days. We had a system in Paloquemo that was on line with terminals in Paraguanchon. With that we had full access to intelligence information, including the full DAS database.

SEMANA: But they did all that to control border crossings?

R.G.: The intention was to have migration control at that site but the costs were extreme given that we even put a satellite channel that cost a lot of money.

SEMANA: But the intelligence work went beyond just controlling border crossings?

R.G.: Of course. It always impressed me that we put such a system in a remote border crossing which didn’t even have appropriate personal to control that information. Later, in 2004, we had all the border posts connected.

SEMANA: If you had such a sophisticated system in the border how is it that that very May 152 paramilitaries and campesinos crossed into Venezuela and you didn’t realize it?

R.G.: I don’t want to talk about that.

From everthing that has been revealed it seems clear that there was indeed an active plan afoot to assasinate President Chavez. Colombian President Uribe himself admitted that people within his intelligence agency, DAS, met with former Venezuelan military officers as part of such a plot. And now we have these new revelations that would tend to confirm that. We also now have an indication of why the rabid opposition journalist, Patricia Poleo, may be trying so hard to avoid talking to authorities. While this article doesn't implicate her in anything befriending top paramilitary leaders would seem to imply she is more than a simple journalist.

The case of the murder of Danilo Anderson is certainly very complex. He was investigating people accused of involvement in the April 11 coup against Chavez so it would make sense the opposition would want him gone. Yet there have been media reports pointing to his running an extorsion ring and that his investigations were simply part of a big shake down effort. With all the accusations and counter accusations it is simply too confusing to really be able to draw any conclusions. There are probably people who want it that way and who are working hard to confuse everthing with smokescreens. Hopefully, this former DAS official will provide yet more information that may ultimately clear the smokescreens to reveal what really happened.


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