Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A Slow Coup in Venezuela

Sunday 11th October, by W. T. Whitney Jr - People's Weekly World

U.S. measures for resisting progressive changes in Latin America have included funding of rightwing opposition groups, military deployment throughout the region, and the Fourth Fleet for monitoring a continent. This year seven new bases have been announced for Colombia, one in Peru and two in Panama.

Efforts to destabilize Venezuela's socialist government have been part of the mix. Assets include despondent, formerly entitled Venezuelans and Colombian military force. The failed coup to remove President Hugo Chavez and attempted shutdown of the state oil company were early signs seven years ago. Since then Colombian paramilitary formations, in league with the U.S. puppet government there and rightwing elements in Venezuela, have embarked upon mayhem. 

First hand testimony suggests paramilitaries plotted to assassinate President Hugo Chavez.

El Nuevo Herald of Miami recently published a prison interview with Geovanny Velásquez Zambrano. The ex-paramilitary said he attended two meetings almost 10 years ago at which Manuel Rosales, then mayor of Maracaibo, offered $25 million for killing Chavez. He hinted at U.S. sources. Velásquez reported that paramilitary chieftain Jorge Iván Laverde - known as "el Iguano" - accepted the offer: "I have the guys to kill this gentleman."

The plotters established a training camp in Catatumbo to prepare for forays into Venezuela. Velásquez' own group entered Venezuela in 2000. According to the Nuevo Herald, Laverde, also a prisoner, accused high Colombian Army officers of orchestrating paramilitary ventures.

From 2000 to 2008, Rosales governed border state Zulia. In 2006 he was the rightist candidate in a losing bid for the presidency and that year allegedly met again with Colombian paramilitaries in a border town. He escaped to Peru in April.

In late September, a video rendition of Velasquez' testimony before Colombian prosecutors appeared on the Al Jazeera web site, along with lawyer Eva Golinger's commentary. Interviewed by TeleSur, she characterized paramilitary intrusion into Venezuela as "part of what the United States classifies as irregular war [using] military groups to promote violent actions." She saw the 2004 assassination of Venezuelan chief prosecutor Danilo Anderson as one example. Citing a U.S. Southern Command document dated April 13, 2003, Golinger accused Washington of creating a new "United Self Defense Forces of Venezuela" organized by paramilitaries of the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia.

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