Monday, April 7, 2008

Is Terror Coming to Venezuela? (Translation included)


Armed Men in Masks in the 23 de Enero Barrio in Caracas

Not many people in the U.S. are aware of the problems Hugo Chavez has been having with Fedecámaras, the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce, a group that has been very vocal about its opposition to many of Chavez's economic policies and more. Chavez has threatened them with all sorts of possible retaliatory action in response to a variety of public positions Fedecámaras has taken, but usually these threats appear to stop short of direct action.

But last February 24 the Caracas office of Fedecámaras was the scene of a bomb explosion, perhaps it could be better stated, "was the scene of a premature bomb explosion that went off as the perpetrator attempted to set the device," when a Venezuelan government security officer named Hector Serrano was killed in the early morning hours when a bomb he probably was setting in place went off, killing him in the process. We have no official report to rely upon as of now and the Chavez security people do not want one to be released. There has been very little reporting about this incident in the American press, but it is a very big deal in Venezuela, where the Chavez-Fedecámaras conflict has been front page news for years and the coinciding evidence of a bomb going off at its headquarters in Caracas with a Venezuelan security officer killed ostensibly planting it puts the worst of Chavismo on display for all to see.

Chavez's defenders continually try to argue that the rule of law has persisted in Venezuela, and they are at least in part correct in that not every law enforcement official marches in lock step with the regime. And this is because there are laws on the books which say, well; that when a bomb goes off you go out and investigate who was the perpetrator who planted it, who may have been acting in association with the perpetrator, and so on.

It appears that the premature detonation of the bomb which killed Hector Serrano, caught the Chavez-controlled Venezuelan Directorate for Intelligence, Security and Prevention (Disip), who normally would have directed an investigation into an incident such as this from the top, unprepared to control public disclosure of the particulars of the case and that lower level security officials within their organization simply arrived on the scene and began to do their job, conducting an investigation and releasing information to the public as they usually would do in such a case. And it also appears that they are continuing this investigation, which is where the problems for Chavez and his regime may lie.

Chavez has been suffering in Venezuelan public opinion lately. On December 2 of last year the Venezuelan people resoundingly rejected popular referendums to extend his tenure as President beyond 2010 and to permit an ideological "reform" of public education -- read "indoctrination" -- and recent student protests and spontaneous consumer protests at supermarkets with empty shelves have only made his problems worse. And now the Fedecámaras bombing investigation threatens to make the truth of the violent nature of political intimidation palpable as well.

The following is a translation of a news report from of the shutdown of the 23 de Enero barrio in Caracas last Thursday by armed masked men who were given national TV airplay to voice their threats towards government officials who are continuing the investigation into the bombing, promising that they will turn to violence if their demands are not heeded. I include pics from the website as well to let you see that these men are well-armed, which is a bigger deal in Venezuela than you might think, because gun ownership rights are much more restrictive there than they are here in the U.S. And perhaps the most important thing of all I hope you grasp from the news article is that the police and other law enforcement agencies stayed out of their way, permitting them to fully air their threats free from any legal restraint.

This does not represent terror, as you see the question I am asking in the title, it really falls under the heading of "intimidation." And it may not possibly fall under the heading of "state sponsored intimidation" either, because most of the perpetrators are from the local barrio where the Fedecámaras offices are located, which gives it something of a local flavor, though it is clear that the Chavez communitarian radio station from the area, these are major propaganda arms of the regime, is involved. But it does represent state approved intimidation by its demonstration that masked and armed men with guns can act in such a manner, threatening violence if their demands are not met, with no interference from the police whatsoever. It is not a great leap from "state approved intimidation" to "state sponsored intimidation" and from there to "state sponsored terror." The presence of the weapons makes that a possibility and marks this incident as a sign of the Chavez regime's true colors.


Translation: Armed Men Protest DISIP Searches in the 23 de Enero Barrio

They are threatening a second "non peaceful" takeover of the populous barrio

With a "public stoppage," armed masked men protested alleged police persecution of community leaders for the inquiries into the bomb that exploded, weeks back, at the central office of the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce [Fedecamaras].

This Thursday, representatives of several public groups of Caracas denounced the action which they said created a "parallel Directorate for Intelligence, Security and Prevention (Disip)" in what they called the search Caracas security forces carried out in the 23 de Enero barrio after the detonation of an explosive device in the central office of Fedecamaras, where the person who placed it, identified as Hector Serrano, died.

In the morning hours access routes to this parish were blocked with burning rubber and stones. Some of these men openly displayed weapons, large and small, without any legal authority present to stop them. As of now, the Interior and Justice Ministry has not made any statement on the presumably illegal act.

They also showed their support for Juan Montoya, another [suspect] who was presumably involved in the deed, "because the private mass media have been stigmatized by what happened in Fedecámaras," the leader of the group, Carlos Rodriguez, said.

"Honor and glory to our companion Serrano and an end to the action against our comrade Juan Montoya. 'Juancho,'" [Rodriguez] added, emphasizing that they hope the Minister of Interior and Justice, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, intervenes in the affair.

He accused the El Mundo and El Nuevo Pais daily newspapers of "stigmatizing us before the public." "They are dictating a death sentence against our companion creating a matrix of opinion that is against him," Rodriguez declared.

"The leading units who took charge of the searches are parallel police bodies, it is a parallel Disip. [We know that] General Zarraga, the assistant director of Disip, has knowledge of this parallel body because we had a meeting with him, one of our companions called this parallel Disip to harass them and we passed the telephone to him and he reprimanded them by phone and we do not know what happened later," he said.

For his part, Valentin Santana, also representing one of the public groups, exhorted Disip to "turn their investigations towards Altamira where there are paramilitaries assassinating taxi drivers."

"We also request the Attorney General of the Republic to end the searches because they also have been calling Disip so that they can harass our companion Juan Montoya," he stated emphatically.

"We are telling them that if they come again to name one more companion we are going to shut down the 23 de Enero barrio and this time it is not going to be a peaceful action, we are telling Disip and especially the head of investigations to turn their investigations toward Altamira," he warned.

Among the groups who are protesting are: the La Piedrita labor collective, the Combative and Liberating Radio 23 92.5 FM collective, the Jose Leonardo Chirinos collective, the Petare Indian collective, the August 16th Resistance Collective, the Caribbean Indians, UPV, the El Valle Country and Death, Collective 5 of the 23 de Enero barrio, among others.


In the early hours of the morning this Thursday, the main access routes to the 23 de Enero barrio, in the Capital District, awakened surrounded by burning rubber piles, safeguarded by armed masked men. After 10:00 a.m. the situation was resolved.

Glen Martinez, member of a community-owned radio station of the locality, informed Venezuelan Television of the motive for the blockade. They are protesting an alleged police persecution of community leaders by their inquiries into the bomb that exploded, weeks back, at the Fedecamaras office. They are specifically protesting that security organs are pursuing Juan "Juancho" Montoya in an unjustified manner.

In a telephone call with television channel VTV, the community leader warned the news media and several of its representatives, such as the El Mundo daily newspaper and [Venezuelan journalist] Patricia Poleo.

The so-called "public stoppage" caused a traffic jam on Sucre and Moran avenues, as well as on the exits toward El Calvario and the Cajigal observatory.


No comments: