Narco News 2001
the daily El País of Spain:
of State Peter Romero
"Always citing information from espionage
services, that conveniently are not made public... Chávez
and his revolution are in the sights and priorities of the CIA"
- the national daily El
País of Spain
Suspects that Chávez intends to export his Bolivarian
believes that Venezuela supports rebel groups in Bolivia, Ecuador
By JUAN JESÚS AZNAREZ, Special
Correspondent, Bogotá, Colombia
February 11, 2001, El País,
Translated by The Narco
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of
the United States scrutinizes the Bolivarian intentions of the
Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, fearing that is proclamations
for a Latin American Union transcend the political level and
are carried out through economic aid that can be used by rebel,
indigenous, and Creole movements of the region.
The firing, last January, of the Venezuela
Foreign Ministry's director of information and opinion, Miguel
Quintero, seems related to these suspicions, as well as the imprudent
closeness of the official with the Revolutionary Armed Forces
of Colombia (FARC).
The appearance made in the Caracas hall
of the National Assembly (Venezuelan Congress) by Olga Lucía
Marín, daughter of the historic leader of this guerrilla
movement Manuel Marulanda Tirofijo ("Sureshot"),
and of Hernán Martínez, also a member of the militia
that declares itself to be Bolivarian, caused a behind-the-scenes
collision within the breast of the government alliance.
The Speaker of the House, the official
partisan William Lara, according to sources within the Foreign
Ministry, filed a complaint with the president's office for not
having been consulted over the invitation to the two insurrectionists.
Quintero was the person in charge of receiving and hosting them.
Exhibiting truths, lies, angry sounds
and probably with intentions to dissuade such activity, a high
US official recently declared that the Bolivarian propaganda
of the commander of the paratroopers - that on February 4, 1992
rose up in arms against the government of Social Democrat Carlos
Andrés Pérez - is not only verbal.
"There are indications that the government
of Chávez has supported violent indigenous movements in
Bolivia, and in the case of Ecuador, military coup members,"
according to the Assistant Secretary of State of Hemispheric
Affairs, Peter Romero. He described the president himself, and
his foreign minister, José Vicente
Rangel, named last week as Defense Secretary, as "professional
The most concrete accusation was thrown
by the daily Miami Herald: That Venezuela had delivered
more than $500,000 dollars to Colonel Lucio Gutiérrez,
who headed indigenous demonstrations that in 2000 ended with
the fall of the government of Jamil Mahuad, accused of committing
a serious banking corruption. The slogan of Gutierrez was the
same that Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chávez held nine years
ago: the corruption and immorality of the traditional political
class. Gutiérrez was imprisoned and released months later.
The North American newspaper said that the CIA has film and photographs
of Miguel Quintero with this ex-colonel and coup member.
Always citing information from espionage
services - that conveniently are not made public - the leak over
graphic documentation demonstrates, without a doubt, that Chávez
and his revolution are in the sights and priorities of the CIA.
Another of the charges made is that during
the Ibero-American Summit last year in Panamá, the Bolivian
president, the right-winger Hugo Banzer, attacked his Venezuelan
colleague for the supposed support given to one of the messengers
of the indigenous leader Felipe Quisque Huanca, active leader
of the coca growers against the President.
Sources consulted in Caracas recommended
caution in believing the North American imputations because,
obviously, Chávez has never hidden his dream of a united
and Bolivarian Latin America. Something very distinct would be
to act logistically by using government funds.
"So far it's all conjecture, interpretations
of meetings that in fact never happened. There are no convincing
proofs that Venezuela has supported subversion," said diplomatic
sources. The "respectful" position that Caracas has
toward the Colombian guerrilla, however, and the statements made,
have caused frequent disputes with Colombia, whose government
demands solidarity from its neighbor and a rotund belligerence
against the violence carried out by the FARC.
Journalist Gioconda Soto, of the daily
El Nacional, sustains that in the cited document of the
CIA against the administration of Chávez, the retired
general Milton Abreu, who until recently was military chief in
the Venezuelan Embassy in Quito, Ecuador, had participated. Abreu,
with contacts between the old guard of the Military Intelligence
Directorship (DIM, in its Spanish acronym), was connected to
Peter Romero, while both were representatives of their nations
in that Andean country.
was Washington's Ambassador to Ecuador
from November 1993 to July 1996, after having served in diplomatic
posts in El Salvador. Supposedly, the Venezuelan ex-chief accompanied
Quintero during a meeting with Gutiérrez, and with the
mayor of Quito, retired general Paco Moncayo, who led the Condor
War of 1995 against Perú, over an old territorial dispute.
"In official circles there is concern,"
says Soto, "over the supposed present-day mechanisms of
collaboration between certain figures from the old militarism
(that which existed during the 40 years of the two-party system
in Venezuela) and the US intelligence agency."
Quintero was a type of "specialist"
for the government who established contects with opposition circles
in Latin America, be they civil or military, and who possibly
had lost his convincingness that any initiative of his had counted
with the good will of Chávez and Rangel. General Santiago
Ramírez, another man who is close to the president, replaced
Analyst Nelson Bocaranda adds that the
fired foreign ministry official spoke, in his Caracas office,
with a messenger of Vladamiro Montesinos, the de facto chief
of the Peruvian spy agency until the disgraceful fall of ex-president
Alberto Fujimori. His telephone contacts with Cuba were constant.
"He played the role of the Creole 007 and he liked it.
His first report was sent to the Venezuelan Defense Secretary
(then, General Eliécer Hurtado) who delivered it to President
Chávez. He was immediately, ipso facto, fired from his
The doubts reside in knowing whether he
maneuvered with the consent of his superiors, or effectively
adventured alone in high-voltage affairs that ended up creating
a problem for his government.
An Old Suspect of the CIA
The inclusion of Hugo Chávez in
the list of suspects by the US intelligence services began in
1994, a short time after he was released from jail where he served
two years for the failed uprising of 1992. One of his first moves
was to travel to Havana, where he was received, with honor, by
Fidel Castro, in a moment when nobody believed in his political
future. The paratroop commander returned from Cuba, once praised,
and prepared a warm welcome for Fidel in Caracas when he visited
Later, a Venezuelan opposition magazine,
Zeta, accused Chávez of having alerted the Cuban
revolution, until 1998, about the rise of petroleum prices. He
advised them, according to this publication, to buy all the petroleum
that they could because then it was a little more than seven
dollars a barrel and it rose as high as $30. The Venezuelan leader
has demonstrated his willingness to help Cuba in its chronic
oil shortage. Previous trips by the Venezuelan leader to Iraq
and Libya, challenging the United States, were made not to coordinate
petroleum policies, but to accelerate the creation political
following that predictably would generate talk.
To read the original
El País story in Spanish:
Para leer el reportaje
original de El País en Español:
As Romero Watches
América, We Watch Romero