Argentine torturers took military courses in Spain — and vice versa

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A cordial letter from the Spanish ministry of exterior relations to the Embassy of Argentina in Madrid. Note the date stamp: September 14, 1979. Even at the height of the junta’s horrors, Spain was awfully chummy with Argentina.

Spain supposedly reverted to democracy, after decades of fascist dictatorship, with the death of Generalissimo Franco in 1975. At about the same time, Argentina’s already rampant authoritarianism was deepening into outright fascism; the following year, a military coup brought to power a junta that would reign by way of terror and ample bloodshed from 1976 until 1983. But how “democratic” was Spain really, so soon post-Franco? A report by the Spanish alternative site LibreRed has some intriguing answers:

The Videla régime [of Argentina] and Suárez government [of Spain] maintained an active collaboration in terms of repression, according to secret archives from both countries.

The Argentine lieutenant Antonio “Trueno” Pernías, currently in a Buenos Aires prison for crimes against humanity, was a man of action: through his hands — and his torture chamber — passed many men and women who still have not reappeared today. His comrade Enrique Scheller, alias “Pingüino”, was also accused by various survivors as a sadistic torturer. Between 1978 and 1980, both individuals worked for the Argentine embassy in Spain, where they dedicated themselves to persecuting and controlling the large group of Argentine refugees who lived in that land. In spite of the denunciations against them, the Suárez government gave them passports and permitted them to carry revolvers.

Their names are not an isolated case. As confirmed by diverse documents held in public reserves, the Argentine diplomatic delegation was utilized as one of the principal centres of operations for the dictatorship in Europe, with a double mission: Controlling the exiles, and counteracting international denunciations against the junta. All went about armed there, thanks to licences which the government of Adolfo Suárez granted without a murmur. According to secret archives, ambassador Leandro Enrique Anaya had permission to use a Smith & Wesson .38 calibre pistol. His secretary, Jorge Vigano, carried an Astra revolver, while the economic and commercial consul, Carlos Vailati, carried a Colt revolver. Nor did they lack for gunpowder in the Consul General’s office in Madrid, where the chief, Luis Vila Ayres, enjoyed a “carrying permit for weapons of personal defence”, a Browning 7.65 calibre pistol.

Besides giving armaments to their functionaries, the Argentine military junta mounted an espionage service with principal seat in the embassy of Madrid, and subsidiaries in the consular offices of Barcelona, Bilbao and Cádiz. In this tight-woven network, not only functionaries of the diplomatic installations participared, but also soldiers who were sent to Spain under the pretext of taking “training courses” in the installations of the Spanish army and navy.

One of the first to complete these functions was Lt.-Col. Antonio José Deimundo Piñeiro, who attended the school of the Army High Command in Madrid in 1976-77. In or out of the school, Piñeiro had the authorization of the Spanish governmetn to carry a Colt .38 calibre “detective model” revolver and an official passport, along with his wife and children. Upon returning to Argentina in 1977, the proven officer dedicated himself to co-ordinating the savage repression in the Misiones province, in northern Argentina.

Documents received by LibreRed confirm that Spain and Argentina maintained a close-linked interchange of military and police officers completing official courses. On September 23, 1977, Edmundo René Ojeda, the Chief of Federal Police in Argentina — one of the repressive forces which kidnapped, tortured and killed anti-dictatorship militants — sent the Spanish government an annual plan of scholarships for that body. For the first time, the Videla dictatorship’s offer included members of the Civil Guard and the Police.

The Suárez government would not reject the Argentine junta’s offer. On November 25, 1977, the minister of the Exterior, Marcelino Oreja, confirmed via letter that an officer of the Civil Guard and another from the Armed Police would study in Argentina. The chosen officers would complete a course in explosives, which began on October 23, 1978, and lasted 10 days, in which the attendees received training in the “handling, disarming and transportation of incendiary artefacts and/or explosives and the completion of investigations or judicial reports”.

During those same days, the Moncloa Palace responded to the generosity of Argentina with a very special proposal to one of its naval officers, the frigate lieutenant Jorge Osvaldo Troitiño. According to a confidential document of the Argentine Navy, Troitiño travelled to Europe to “serve in the Naval attachement” of the embassy in Madrid, although he used that as camouflage for his participation in the High Command course in the Navy War School. Thanks to permission granted by the Civil Guard, he was allowed to carry a Smith & Wesson .38 calibre revolver in his belt. On May 6, 1978, his Spanish professors chose him to conduct an exposition on Argentina, so that he could explain to his comrades the generosities of the “political régime” of Videla and its “future development”.

Troitiño was one of the most active “students” sent by the dictatorship to Spain, but not the only one. According to official listings, 33 Argentine militaries passed through the military dependencies of Spain between 1976 and 1983. Seven of them attended the High Command course of the Army Superior School, while others did their stint in the Military War School. Among these last is the navy officer Carlos José Pazo, one of the torturers who worked in the concentration camp of the Navy Mechanics’ School (ESMA), one of the principal centres of extermination in Argentina.

Another of his fellow torturers, Lieutenant Néstor Savio, was also gifted with a trip to Spain to complete a course of Command of Naval Infantry in San Fernándo (Cádiz), while Ricardo César Arajuo — a naval officer very active in the so-called “anti-subversive fight” — managed to be sent by his naval chiefs to Madrid “on permanent commission” — which granted him governmental protection — to attend the course on “Command and High Command of Naval Infantry”.

According to a confidential note of the Naval High Command of Argentina, Araujo was to stay in Spain between August of 1980 and November 1981. In his dossier, his chiefs recognized his “active participation” in the “fight against subversion” in Bahía Blanca, a city 600 kilometres from Buenos Aires. Precisely for that, three decades later, a tribunal from that locality accused him of “having formed part of a criminal, clandestine and illegal plan to kidnap, torture, murder and cause disappearance of persons”. When he went to Spain, Araujo already had all those despicable acts behind him.

The participation of the 33 Argentines in courses taught by the Armed Forces was reciprocated by the Suárez government with the journey of 14 Spanish officers to Buenos Aires to study various subjects in the schools of the Army and Navy. “The courses taken by these officers took place amid an exchange of alumni and as a consequence of accords signed in reciprocity with countries with which diplomatic relations were maintained for many years, and which continue to the present day.” Thus, in 1998, did the Spanish ministry of defence justify it in the face of a freedom-of-information request by Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who was then trying to investigate crimes against humanity in Argentina.

According to the list distributed at that time by the ministry, between 1979 and 1983 eight members of the Spanish Army took the intelligence course offered by the dictatorship. Some of them visited the ESMA, the same installation which served as a concentration camp. Then-commandant Cristóbal Gil y Gil would admit as much to Garzón, before whom he had to testify on June 16, 1998. According to his testimony, Gil y Gil — who worked for Spanish intelligence — had travelled to Buenos Aires in April 1981 to participate in a course of “personnel studies”, aimed at “teaching police techniques of identifying fingerprints and microfilms of documentation, as well as techniques of modernization of the Intelligence Service”.

When consulted about his visits to the ESMA, the officer affirmed that he had been there on three occasions. When Garzón asked him the names of his hosts, he replied that he could not remember any. In the face of his lack of memory, the judge showed him various photos of the repressors who moved through that centre, but it didn’t help; Gil’s mind remained blank. Prosecuting attorneys asked him if he had received instructions “over forms of combatting subversion”, to which Gil y Gil also replied evasively: “Those were techniques known in Spain and every other western country.”

Nor was the CESID commander aware of the use of the ESMA as a concentration camp, an aspect that has been denounced on numerous occasions at an international level by human-rights organizations. In his statement, Gil y Gil alleged that he never even knew that there were disappeared persons in Argentina. Like many, he believed that there existed a “confrontation between military authorities and disparate ideological groups.” The toll was 30,000 persons murdered by way of state terrorism.

Translation mine.

So we know that Spain and Argentina, despite their supposedly different politics of the day, were not so different below the surface. Military repressors and torturers went back and forth between the two countries, receiving training of a highly suspicious nature. The word “intelligence” alone has sinister connotations here, since the Argentines used torture to extract information from captured “subversives” in order to kidnap, torture and kill others. Many active leftists had to flee Argentina under those circumstances. Many landed in neighboring South American lands, but others went as far as North America and Spain. Far from being safe in Europe, they were continually harassed and persecuted there, thanks to the fact that Spanish military attachés and embassy and consular functionaries were allowed to carry pistols and conduct those persecutions while the Suárez government — “democratic”, cough cough — looked politely the other way. It was not until the late 1990s, with the rise of the intrepid crusader judge Baltasar Garzón, that Spain began to show some genuine democratic leanings, or at least in the general direction of human rights.

What we still don’t know is why the government of Spain looked the other way when it had to be at least dimly aware that something was not kosher in Argentina. Were they still so accustomed to oppression that Argentina’s horrors — easily equal to those of Franco during and after the Civil War — simply didn’t look so bad to them? Or was — IS — there some sinister undercurrent at work in the Spanish military, something that might spring back to life even now, at any moment — should there arise any “subversion” on the part of Spain’s still-existing (and increasingly restless) anarchists, communists, Catalan and Basque separatists, and socialists?

Majunche’s not-so-excellent foreign adventure

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Ah, Keanu. Well might you ask. It turns out that the answer may be as simple as that old biblical saying: By their fruits shall ye know them.

So, by Majunche’s fruits, what can we know about him? Well, a certain vice-president of Venezuela has some ideas:

Venezuelan vice-president Elías Jaua denounced on Saturday that the upcoming trip by opposition politician Henrique Capriles Radonski to Spain and the United States is part of a “destabilization campaign” to “interrupt democracy” in Venezuela.

Jaua pointed out that Capriles plans to travel between October 20 and 24 to Spain and the US to meet with representatives of the far right to receive “outlines and financial oxygen to continue the destabilization campaign against Venezuelan democracy.”

Jaua also informed that president Nicolás Maduro has ordered the Legislative Council of the state of Miranda, of which Capriles is governor, to demand explanations of the opposition politician as to why he is absenting himself from his functions for five days.

Jaua, also a former foreign minister, called the claim that Capriles is the most moderate of the Venezuelan opposition a lie, recalling that the governor of Miranda plays a principal role in “a game to interrupt democracy and the plan to destabilize our homeland.”

He also deemed “absolutely irresponsible” the declarations of Capriles over a supposed cutback in the Miranda state budget due to the fact that the price of oil established in the national budget does not correspond to the real prices established.

In this context, Jaua emphasized that Capriles, a representative of the opposition “Democratic Unity Table” (MUD) party, uses such allegations as excuses for not dedicating himself to his duties, such as attending to culture, sport and education in Miranda.

Venezuelan authorities have accused the sectors of the Venezuelan opposition on repeated occasions, supported from abroad, of plotting to launch a coup d’état against the Maduro government.

Translation mine.

It’s already well known that Spain and the US (and the far fascist right of both) have active, vested interests in seeing Venezuelan democracy kicked to the curb. Both were, in fact, found actively backing the coup of ’02. Does anyone seriously believe that they’ve since changed their stripes?

If you do, you might be as big a doofus as Bill. Or Ted.

If you don’t, keep watching Majunche. Or this space, which will certainly keep its eyes trained on him.

More fallout from the Serra assassination

The social networks of Venezuela have been buzzing with messages surrounding the death of deputy Robert Serra. And some of what’s been Facebooked and tweeted is truly vile, as the National Assembly president, Diosdado Cabello, reads out above. Here’s a quick summary of the highlights (if you can call them that):

On his VTV show, Con el Mazo Dando, the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, informed on Thursday of the detention of Victor Ugas, who spread a photo via social networks of the assassinated deputy Robert Serra in the morgue, as well as the detention of a tweeter known as “La Negra Hipólita”.

“This week they also captured Victor Andrés Ugas, alias Víctor Hugo, who took the photo of comrade Robert Serra [in the morgue]. You’ll have to say who gave you the photo. Also, Daniely Benítez was detained, she’s the one called ‘[La Negra] Hipólita’. She’s very good at predicting things. On September 4, she said that the National Assembly would be in mourning, that we would be buying white candles [for wakes], but she’s so good at predicting that she never predicted that she would be jailed. That’s because the whole thing is suspicious.”

[...]

Cabello also informed of the detention of other citizens who had made threats or jokes around the assassination of Serra, as well as investigations of other Venezuelans who committed the same crimes and are not in country.

Translation mine.

Yes, that’s right…some punk leaked a photo of Robert Serra’s body in the morgue. And another one appears to have had advance knowledge of an assassination to come, one that would have vigil candles burning in the National Assembly (where, in fact, Serra’s body and that of his girlfriend, María Herrera, did lie in state). Just a macabre joke, I’m sure. Or a damn good crystal ball…one that, as Diosdado Cabello ironically remarks, somehow failed to predict that its psychic owner would land up in the slammer.

According to this news item, the photos of Serra’s corpse on the slab have been under investigation since October 10, and the suspect believed to have tweeted them was arrested on Wednesday. He remains in custody.

Meanwhile, we now know the amount of money Serra’s assassins got to do the job. A cool quarter of a million gringo dollars, according to the justice minister:

The planned and executed assassination of socialist National Assembly deputy Robert Serra cost its intellectual authors $250,000 (US), monies which came from Colombia, according to the minister of Interior Relations, Justice and Peace, Miguel Rodríguez Torres.

[...]

“With Lorent Gómez Saleh in prison, we now know that they were starting to eliminate 20 leaders,” said the minister, recounting that the terrorist plans, orchestrated in Colombia, which extremist groups were to carry out in Venezuela, and to which Saleh belonged, were to be carried out only against the leaders of the Bolivarian Revolution who mobilized the people to militancy with the greatest strength.

“They came from Colombia with that amount of money, which not just anyone would have, and killed our comrade Robert Serra,” Rodríguez Torres said during an assembly in Propatria, Caracas.

Translation, again, mine.

Money from Colombia? Surely that wouldn’t be traceable back to El Narco, would it? Miguel Rodríguez Torres thinks it would, and he would know, as justice minister and as one privy to all the information surrounding a crime of this magnitude.

Meanwhile, seven arrest orders are currently awaiting fulfillment, and Interpol is on red alert for the individuals in question. The eighth suspect is already in detention: Edwin Torres Camacho, the corrupted bodyguard who let the killers into the home.

Pablo Neruda’s prophetic words are about to come true; the cowards’ moon is hanging low in the sky. Not much longer now…

Video shows assassins entering and leaving Robert Serra’s home

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro himself narrates this video, which shows just how quick and efficient the killers of Robert Serra were. The full security video from the night in question is just 11 minutes long, and the segment showing the entry and exit of the killers clocks in at a mere six minutes. That’s right: Just six minutes from the time they entered the house, with the help of a paid-off bodyguard of the late parliamentarian, to the time they exited and buzzed off, some on motorbikes, a very typical mode of transportation in Caracas. This video shows clearly why there were no signs of forced entry at the home, indicating an apparent inside job. With a paid-off bodyguard to unlock the door for the killers, there would be no need to break in, calling unwanted attention to themselves and wasting valuable minutes, as well as making it that much harder to escape in time.

So who are the killers? Well, the head of this particular band of assassins is a Colombian paramilitary by the surname of Padilla Leiva; his nickname, and the name of the band as well, is “El Colombia”. How original! Maduro also gives the nicknames of the rest of the killers, in the order in which they appear and enter the home. Their real names are presumably known to the authorities, but not mentioned in this clip.

Meanwhile, here’s a tape of the corrupted bodyguard, Edwin Torres Camacho, who let the killers into the house:

And here’s a transcript of what he said:

“It all began three months ago, I was talking on my cellphone with deputy Robert Serra, when I was approached by ‘Colombia’, one of the authors of the death of the deputy. Then he asked me ‘Anything else? Is everything all right?’ This in a normal discussion with my boss…

“He told me that…he broke into the situation to tell me ‘let’s go, let’s go screw him, let’s go there’, with such insistence, I fell into temptation and from the Wednesday of the week before the deputy’s death, uh…they were talking about everything they were going to do that day…

“We left there…on a Sunday we swung by the deputy’s house in a pickup truck, burgundy and black, and the same again on Monday, two days before the deputy’s death, they lent me a cellphone with which they told me that we were going to work that day.

“The day of the incident, Wednesday, they gave me the motorbike on the Cristo corner, and I went out to look for it. From there I went toward La Pastora, met with ‘Colombia’, who got on the bike with me, and we went to the deputy’s house. When we arrived there, I opened the door with the motorcycle key, forcing the lock, and ‘Colombia’ entered behind me. After that, he went ahead and neutralized María [Herrera, Serra's girlfriend], then two others entered, and the other four: ‘Eme’, ‘Dany’, ‘Oreja’ and ‘Tintín’.

“At that moment, I walked toward the kitchen…’Colombia went up with ‘Tintín’ and that’s when they neutralized Robert and brought him to his study. Then I gave him a kick in the neck and I was getting on top of him when Tintín was on top of Robert with a knife in his hand, with an awl…and I saw that the deputy was already gagged and mortally wounded.

“After he went down, Tintín went back down, and the others, with weapons in hand. I went down last and saw how ‘Colombia’ was on top of María. I couldn’t see what he was doing to her, but I could see that he was on top of María. Then it was ‘let’s go, let’s go” and we left the house. As we were leaving the house I turned back to open the door for them, I opened the door electrically, then they left and I hung back, looking around, because I didn’t have the motorcycle key in my pocket, the one with which I opened the door and forced the lock.

“After I came out, because I couldn’t find the key, I had to push the motorbike downhill. I pushed it along with ‘Tintín’. I came out last and from there, we went down two blocks. I dropped off Tintín, I don’t know which way he went, he went his way and I went down three more blocks. I left the bike someplace, and I don’t know what happened to it. I caught a taxi and went home.”

Translation mine.

So now we know how this was possible. Even with bodyguards, Robert Serra wasn’t safe, because the assassins were able to bribe one of them. One corrupto was all it took to end Robert Serra’s life…well, one corrupto and half a dozen killers.

And three months of planning, and a huge whack of dinero, too.

Lorent Saleh, terrorist, in his own words

Coño, what’s this? Oh, just a cute little student opposition leader from Venezuela, showing his true (terrorist) colors. ¡Qué bolas!

On the VTV show Cayendo y Corriendo, yesterday, a new video was broadcast showing Venezuelan right-winger Lorent Gómez Saleh admitting that he was a terrorist.

“My profession is terrorist,” the right-winger asserted.

As well, Gómez Saleh says in the video that he has plans to disturb the peace in the city of San Cristóbal in the state of Táchira, and that he is counting on the aid of 20 young people, Venezuelan and Colombian, calling them the “elite group”, in order to carry out this type of terrorist acts.

“And 20 is a lot, brother; we don’t need more people because these are detailed things,” he says.

“Táchira will be our bastion, there we’re going to put up a good fight. And we’ll heat up Táchira little by little, you haven’t yet seen how Táchira is catching fire…right now we’re raising the pressure bit by bit,” says Saleh.

In one part of the video, Saleh comments: “We want to hit ‘em in the pocket…We want to start a shitstorm and it’ll be simultaneous, because we can’t be starting a shitstorm today and every day.”

He also reiterated that the groups of terrorists he runs are armed.

“We have some good cellphones, some good computers, some cameras, and weaponry,” he assures.

The far-right activist also spoke of his allies in the encampments at Alfredo Sadel Square, and of the work they are doing.

“In Caracas, ‘Guerrilla’ (Ronnie, co-ordinator of the violent acts in Caracas) was the chief at Sadel. The strong arms of combat have arrived at the camp at Sadel.”

He also referred to terrorist plans to be executed in the capital.

“With 10,000 dollars we’ll plant a good sniper there in Caracas.”

In another video presented on the program, Gómez Saleh states that he will be meeting with the press representative of the NGO “Operation Freedom”, Gisela Matamoros, who works for the ex-deputy, María Corina Machado.

It bears recalling that Gómez Saleh has been photographed with various political spokespersons of the Venezuelan opposition, among them Antonio Ledezma.

Translation mine.

Antonio Ledezma, alias Grandpa Monster, is the right-wing metropolitan mayor of Caracas, and a key figure behind the guarimbas there.

Notice, too, that San Cristóbal is mentioned? That’s where some other guarimbas took place earlier this year, with an eye to ousting Madurito, during the epic fail known as “La Salida” (The Exit). Wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out that little Lori-Sally was in cahoots with the fascist mayor of THAT city, in addition to the aforementioned Grandpa Monster.

Oh yeah, and there’s more incriminating video, too:

In this one, Lorent Saleh is admitting that he has ties to another familiar face of the Venezuelan opposition: Maricori, a.k.a. María Corina Machado. Another prominent putschist, in other words.

Such respectable ruling-class types, these old-line Venezuelan oligarchs. And such a firm commitment to democracy, too! Why else would they be so desperate as to associate with known, and self-admitted, terrorists?

Assassination: CONFIRMED.

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Venezuelan justice minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres talks about the Serra case on his radio show. See that bar across the screen? It reads “Assassination Confirmed”. Meaning, the murder of deputy Robert Serra and his girlfriend, María Herrera, was NOT part of a botched robbery or any “ordinary” violent crime. Here are the details, courtesy VTV:

The Popular Power minster for Interior Relations, Justice and Peace, Major-General Miguel Rodríguez Torres, announced that according to investigations of the killings of Robert Serra and María Herrera, there was detailed planning involved.

During his radio show, the minister explained that it was a planned crime. The Scientific, Criminal, and Penal Investigations Service (CICPC) has collected sufficient elements to make possible a reconstruction of the incident. The hypothesis includes the number of individuals involved, how they entered, and how they exited.

“What happened that day, without a doubt, was the doing of someone who wanted to end the life of this important young leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela,” Rodríguez Torres said.

He assured that “there had been a previous stakeout, in order to know exactly what was Robert Serra’s routine, and that of those who accompanied him.” Rodríguez Torres did not specify further details, in order not to alert the criminals.

He also ruled out robbery as a motive for the homicide: “We are 95% certain that they did not come to rob Robert Serra, but exclusively to kill him, because they didn’t steal anything. They didn’t touch his briefcase with his laptop and tablet, and that is an element of value for a normal thief.”

As well, Rodríguez Torres stated that the pronouncements of opposition leaders with regard to the case were self-serving, to “make us see that this crime is imputable to citizen insecurity as common crimes. [They are] trying to justify the unjustifiable.”

Rodríguez Torres recounted all the paramilitary actions that have taken place in Venezuela, planned by sectors of the Venezuelan and Colombian right wing.

He pointed out that the violent acts originated by the Venezuelan opposition began “coincidentally” after Álvaro Uribe Vélez won the Colombian presidential elections in 2002. From that moment, “Henrique Capriles Radonski and Leopoldo López made contact with Uribe to receive advice, directions, blessings and maybe a few other things as well.”

“That same year, López asked Uribe to be his security advisor, and the former mayor of Chacao, Emilio Graterol, contracted his services as police advisor to José Obdulio Gaviria, who is a cousin of [notorious Colombian drug lord] Pablo Escobar Gaviria.”

Rodríguez Torres also recounted how a series of violent events in April 2002 were planned and organized at Plaza Altamira, among them the placing of C4 explosives at the consulates of Colombia and Spain. There were several persons injured, and damage to the infrastructure. “There was participation from the right-wing political sector, and it was a purely terrorist action,” the minister said.

In 2004, 150 Colombian paramilitaries resided at the Daktari ranch, located between the municipalities of Baruta and Hatillo, with protection by local police. “They were led by Comandante Lucas, an assassin for the paramilitary Salvatore Mancuso, who testified in the United States that these Colombians were in Venezuela on the orders of Álvaro Uribe Vélez,” the minister explained.

“This case clearly demonstrates the presence of militarism in our country as a means of trying to rise to power. I name them case by case to remind you of the right-wing leaders and the barbarities they have wrought in this land,” Rodríguez Torres said.

Translation mine. Here’s the video of the minister’s radio appearance:

So we can see that all the key players of the Venezuelan and Colombian far right are involved in this assassination, as they were in the attempt on the life of Nicolás Maduro earlier this year, and in the attempt on Chavecito’s life as well, in April 2002.

Colombian interference in Venezuelan politics goes back at least that far; further, probably, if we examine the life of El Narco more closely, since his own involvement in the far-right politics of his land, and his use of paramilitary terrorism in it, goes back very far indeed. Remember, he’s an old friend of Pablo Escobar, the infamous drug lord killed by the DEA. And as governor of the Colombian province of Antioquia, he signed off on flight permits for Escobar’s drug runners, enabling them to get their wares to market out of country. Since Venezuela was, at that time, very much a point of transit for Colombian cocaine, it’s quite reasonable to assume that a great many of Escobar’s pilots were flying into Venezuela, offloading their drugs at local airports like Maiquetía to be transferred to international flights and ships, and returning to Colombia to repeat the process countless times.

Chavecito’s election in 1998 spelled the end for that, as he was not tame to the interests of the drug cartels or the US. And worse, Chavecito was hostile to the CIA…which we now know, thanks to the great investigative reporting of Gary Webb, was actually behind the crack-cocaine epidemic in the poor neighborhoods (predominantly black) in the US. And of course, the CIA was behind every right-wing “leader” in Latin America, whether “elected” (note the quotes) or simply imposed by coup. So of course it stood to reason that when El Narco rose to the rank of Colombian president in 2002, one of his first acts, however unofficial, would be to send paramilitaries to neighboring Venezuela to “help” the old political ruling classes there regain the power they were about to lose for good. And their role in the April coup of that year is getting harder and harder to dispute, as more evidence arises that they were involved in every act of political unrest that followed on the heels of Chávez becoming president.

We can also see clearly that there are ties between paramilitarism and Chavecito’s last would-be political rival, Henrique “Majunche” Capriles Radonski, as well as Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado. All of them would never be freely elected by the Venezuelan people, so of course they rely on manufactured riots, insecurity, instability and product shortages created by organized hoarding. Which they then crassly blame on the PSUV government. The fact that nobody is really convinced is a major strike against them, and means they will remain unelectable for as long as they live.

It also means that they will go on resorting to criminality, right up to and including murder, in their attempts to bring a legitimate government down.

Little wonder, then, that Robert Serra named them all as intellectual authors of what was to be his own murder, just days before it happened.

Robert Serra names his assassins

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Who says dead men tell no tales? Not I. And not the Argentine journalist Fernando Vicente Prieto, who wrote the following article for the Correo del Orinoco about the recently slain young Venezuelan deputy, Robert Serra:

It’s been 48 hours since they killed Robert Serra and, in the same criminal operation, María Herrera. Robert was a kid, a Venezuelan boy. He was a deputy for four years, and he was only 27. He was the youngest parliamentarian in Venezuela. His killers knew of his unwavering commitment, his firm and potent voice, because he represented the best of a revolutionary youth, prepared to go the full distance.

They thought they killed him completely in that cruel and, at the same time, perfectly rational act. They wanted to kill in him a generation, called by Hugo Chávez to the most difficult and beautiful task. But Robert Serra continues to speak after his death and from there, he points in his eternal gesture at the assassins. They wanted to kill him again and again, and on October 1 — sadly — they succeeded. But not completely.

Even though they killed him 48 hours ago in La Pastora, I turn on the TV and there’s Robert, talking again, and this time of his own death. He’s conversing on the show Zurda Konducta with other guys like him, some dressed like journalists. Robert is waving his hands and speaking clearly. He’s analyzing the moment of the Revolution, describing the job taken on by the youth after Chávez, and suddenly he begins to tell who assassinated him, why, and in what context.

“The country should observe what’s going on. Why was Álvaro Uribe Vélez the first one to come out in defence of Lorent Saleh? Because there are interests directly related, between the paramilitaries he personally directed and still directs in Colombia, and these despicable acts.”

“If we look retroactively at the fallen during the last guarimbas, [we see] a well-aimed shot to the head, with 9mm or high calibre bullets. A well-aimed shot. Not just any shooter has the ability to do that,” says Robert. “Let’s remember what happened in April 2002, with the coup against Comandante Chávez.”

And from that context, he comes back to talking about the present: “And look at this shameless Lorent Saleh, who says: ‘we have the diplomatic façade with this Operation Freedom’.” He is eloquently referring to the leader of Operation Freedom, one of the “peaceful students against Maduro”, as the private media call them.

“He says that, straight up, that crook says ‘we have the diplomatic façade of the altars of the defence of human rights’. And you see how when our state security corps come out to guarantee peace in the land, they are the ones who get converted into victimizers by the opinion shapers. I want to see CNN replay these videos that are coming out now. I want to see that woman-abuser Fernando del Rincón replaying that. I want to see Patricia Janiot. I want to see all of those who have initiated a media campaign against our country,” Robert insists.

He doesn’t stop; he keeps pointing out tactics and responsible parties. He recalls how the paramilitary groups planned to attack discos and bars in San Cristóbal: “Even their own guys,” he exclaims, “so that the social breakdown would be much greater.”

Later, he directly addresses Antonio Ledezma, the right-wing metropolitan mayor of Caracas. “I know you must be watching me,” he tells him. And reads one of many tweets Ledezma immediately put out to defend the paramilitary group.

He also reads out a tweet by María Corina Machado, which cynically affirms that “everybody knows what awaits Lorent Saleh and Gabriel Valles at the hands of the régime”. And Robert accuses: “No! Not everybody knows. You know it, shameless person, because you’re in the plan! You know it, Antonio Ledezma knows it, Leopoldo López knows it, and and Álvaro Uribe knows it, because they’re the ones who are in on the plan to destabilize our democracy. Now many of us know it.”

Robert looks into the camera. With his short, scrubby hairstyle, as always, and his neighborhood boy’s face, intelligent and naughty. Profound. Chavista. With all his life ahead of him. He thumps his chest and warns:

“And I’m certain, I’m certain, that in that macabre list I could be one of the names. Fine, let them do it. But it doesn’t matter. I’m certain that they plan to hold collectives and social movements responsible. What for? To generate the reaction that tells CNN that there is a ‘dogfight’ going on that they have set in motion for the gringos and other countries of the world to demonstrate that there is no governability here, that Nicolás Maduro doesn’t guarantee peace, and so the world’s police, the blessed gringos, have to intervene.”

And Robert goes on explaining, dead now but with his voice full of life: “We have to get to the root of this, my dear comrades. This was born at a party. I have the migratory register of many of them: how they came through Costa Rica, through Colombia, from where we denounce the so-called Mexican party. And what was the Mexican party? A party held in Mexico by a group of Venezuelan ex-bankers, fugitives from Venezuelan justice, who circulated instructions via a political operator named Gustavo Tovar Arroyo to unleash violence in our land.”

“I am convinced that they will banalize this denunciation tomorrow,” Robert continues. “They want to see the body of the president so they can say ‘Ah yes, the Chavistas were right’. And how will they banalize it? They’ll say that this is a smokescreen to cover up the problems of the land.”

The end of the program draws near. I hear [them read out] a tweet from a young right-winger which says: “I wish I had a pistol so I could shoot down all of those guys from Zurda Konducta.” Robert nods as if to say “exactly!” and says: “You see? This is a product of the hatred the right-wing has instilled.”

He adds: “Today history proves Nicolas Maduro to be right when he said: ‘Gentlemen, behind all of this lies the empire, and the hand of Álvaro Uribe’, who is thirsting for blood in Venezuela, a product of his failure in Colombia. He wants to destroy peace in our land and he has absolutely nothing to lose, because he doesn’t even have morality.”

Robert says goodbye. He talks about the importance of the 2015 legislative elections, in which the right-wing will try to take the majority so as later to deal a parliamentary coup, as in Honduras and Paraguay. “To win is to win well. Let’s build a majority with our people. What is at stake for us in the coming year will be the peace and the democracy of our land. Let us carry on the legacy of Hugo Chávez. If they ask this generation what our objective is, it’s not a term in office, comrade. It is to make irreversible the dreams of Hugo Chávez and his legacy in this homeland he built for us.”

Robert Serra. 27 years old. Young Chavista deputy. A revolutionary who never will be silent. Those who have ears to hear, let them listen. Because Robert is still speaking loud and clear.

Translation mine.

So we can see that there is, indeed, a veritable rogues’ gallery of usual suspects behind Serra’s death: El Narco Uribe, the failed ex-president of Colombia, and head of the paramilitary death squads to which Lorent Saleh and Gabriel Valles are now well known to have belonged. Antonio Ledezma, alias “Grandpa Monster”, the reviled right-wing metropolitan mayor of Caracas, and a well-known collaborator in all the violent opposition guarimbas there. And the bottom-feeding right-wing “leaders”, María Corina Machado, alias Maricori, and Leopoldo López, the pretty boy who’s still sitting in jail, safe and sound, awaiting trial for his part in the recent failed putsch against Madurito. And a bunch of bankers, fugitives from justice all, who absconded with money belonging by rights to the Venezuelan people, who are currently squatting in Mexico. Serra names them all. The only person he doesn’t name is the one who pulled the trigger on him. But it hardly matters. He knows who wanted him dead. And he knows that they had the power and the cash to hire a very cold, clever sharpshooter to do their dirty work, too.

And if you wonder why I’m still writing about him in the present tense, it’s because Robert Serra, like Chavecito before him and Che Guevara before him, is the kind of person who never really dies. He left so much of himself behind, even in his short existence on Earth, that it doesn’t matter anymore where his body is. His spirit is the kind that won’t be silenced so soon. And that irony will be the final joke on his killers, because they will fade from existence as nonentities, even though they succeeded — but only partially, as the author of the piece says — in killing him.

Why was Robert Serra murdered?

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Robert Serra (at left, with hand raised) leads a PSUV delegation through a Caracas neighborhood. On Wednesday night, the parliamentarian — Venezuela’s youngest national-assembly deputy — was brutally murdered at home.

On Wednesday night, Venezuela lost a bright, promising young parliamentarian to a vicious targeted assassination. We don’t yet know exactly who did it. But their motive? That’s not in so much doubt…

Young Chavista deputy Robert Serra, assassinated on Wednesday night along with his girlfriend at his home in Caracas, was one of those who, along with the VTV program Zurda Konducta, denounced the videos linking Lorent Gómez Saleh with paramilitarism and with an attempted coup d’état against Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.

So recounts journalist and Zurda Konducta host Pedro Carvajalino, who considers that the murder of Serra was meant to “demoralize the people”.

In an interview with the Venezuelan News Agency (AVN), in La Pastora, near the home of the murdered parliamentarian, Carvalino, who shared the show stage several times with Serra in the past few weeks, remembered the man affectionately known as “Machine Gun”, for his eloquent and energetic way of speaking.

Carvajalino pointed out that “in the almost two months that [Serra] was on Zurda Konducta, above all on the subject of the videos of Lorent Gómez Saleh and that of the economic battle, he came bringing a political team that very few people could have managed.”

“This was like how Bolívar received the news of when they murdered Sucre,” said Carvajalino, expressing the grief felt not only by the Zurda Konducta team, but also by his comrades and colleagues, over the brutal assassination of Serra. “He always had a close relationship with this neighborhood, in this community. He bought his house here, and led his political and personal life here,” said Carvajalino, emphasizing Serra’s down-to-earth ways.

“The plan to demoralize the people and get a reaction is still going on. They touched a sensitive nerve, a sensitive guy, with close ties to the 23 de Enero neighborhood and here in La Pastora. He wasn’t a guy who went from here to there, like others, one who could have lived in a fancy apartment [elsewhere]. He stayed here in La Pastora.”

Translation mine.

Serra denounced Lorent Saleh, the right-wing Venezuelan “youth leader” terrorist, and his putschist plans. Was that the reason he was murdered? Probably, but it was surely not the whole reason.

Serra was the youngest parliamentarian in the Venezuelan national assembly, and one of the brightest of its rising stars. A Chavista to the core, he showed what he was made of seven years ago when he took on the right wing’s then golden boy, Yon Goicoechea, on a TV talk show, and basically bowled right over him. Serra was just 20 years old at the time. Yon-Yon has since sunk back into obscurity, but Robert Serra kept right on going, from strength to strength…until now.

There is no doubt that the energetic, charismatic and popular Robert Serra stood to be another Chavecito, given time. Of course, that’s why it was all taken away from him by an assassin with a high-powered rifle at his home in the modest Caracas district of La Pastora on Wednesday night. And if you wonder who was behind it, guess what: It’s the same bunch that’s ALWAYS backing the Venezuelan right-wing. And the authorities are onto them, right up to the president himself:

During memorial services for parliamentary deputy Robert Serra and [his girlfriend] María Herrera, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro affirmed that his government has denounced the existence of multiple terrorist plans, many of them “financed by factors of the Miami far-right and paramilitary groups in Colombia.”

The president said that the opposition has “banalized” and “made fun of” the many denunciations the government has made of their destabilization plans, but that “you can see in the opaque gleam of their eyes an underlying desire for what has happened.

“We have aborted many of their plans before they began, sometimes beyond the borders of Venezuela, many times we detained them before we denounced them. One of them is Lorent Saleh, whom we caught with proof in hand. We have captured others from their networks the same way; I can tell you that recently, in the run-up to this weekend, we detained four different groups which were coming to wreak violence and carry out attacks in the centre of the land, including Caracas.

“We caught them with the evidence, with explosives, I denounced that and I hereby ratify it: Terrorist groups supported by elements of the Venezuelan far-right and Colombian paramilitary groups are behind the plans to bring violence into our land. We have succeeded in dissipating part of those plans, and we will continue to battle for peace in our land.”

The president exhorted the opposition to dissociate itself from the violent groups who have hidden behind political parties, and called upon members of his own party to “close the lines”: “Let us exercise revolutionary vigilance in communities and neighborhoods, the length and breadth of the country. I ask for the collaboration of all Venezuelans, so that together with the intelligence services, we will capture the assassins of Robert Serra and dissipate the terrorist groups. Locating them is a battle for all the people. It is a battle for all the people, the battle against terrorism, against criminal violence. It is a hard battle, elements of the imperial right-wing of Miami are behind this crime. We are close to dealing a heavy blow to this band of assassins and criminals.”

Maduro affirmed that the investigations into the killing of the parliamentarian are advancing, and that it is only a matter of time before the material and intellectual authors are found.

“The proofs are all lined up, advanced, to identify the material authors. And at this point, after having spoken with those directing the investigation, I believe that we are close to dealing a heavy blow to this band of assassins and criminals,” said Maduro.

The president assured that in the hours to come, the government will release further details, and that he personally is watching the development of the investigation. “There will be justice for these criminals, but the greatest justice there could be is that this revolution consolidate itself toward the future, and we will do it for this homeland, the homeland Robert Serra dreamed of,” Maduro exclaimed.

Translation, again, mine.

We know how Robert Serra was killed; we even have a fair idea of why. Now, it only remains to be seen who, exactly, is behind all this. I predict we’ll be seeing a fair number of Usual Suspects, and that their networks will be traced all the way back to Miami, just as Nicolás Maduro has said.

US asked Honduras to harbor old CIA asset, according to former president Zelaya

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Oh, oh. What have we here? Evidence that the United States of Amnesia (see no evil, hear no evil, admit no evil) was actually embarrassed enough about one of its old terrorist employees to try to fob him off on a Latin American country that wanted nothing to do with him? Yup, it sure looks that way…

The former president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, attested today in Ecuador that the United States is exercising a systematic plan of interference in the internal affairs of his land, something he personally witnessed while he was head of state. During the working sessions of the Latin American Progressive Meeting, which concludes today, the ex-leader explained that during his presidential period, the attempts at interference were many and constant, upon which he concluded that the person ordering them in Honduras was Washington’s ambassador.

Zelaya recalled that as soon as he was elected, the first call he received was from that diplomatic representative of the US government, who congratulated him, invited him to lunch, and after sharing a meal, handed him an envelope, to be opened later in his office.

Inside the package was a list of the ministers he was to nominate, who were persons close to him during the electoral campaign, but also infiltrated agents of the CIA.

Another of the initial incidents was that the US ambassador petitioned him for political asylum for Luis Posada Carriles, via the foreign minister. Zelaya described Posada as an international terrorist, author of multiple assassinations. Acceding to the request would have been considered a gesture favorable to rapprochement.

The former president, who was ousted from office via a coup in 2009, finally decided not to give asylum to Posada Carriles. He followed it up later with the resolution to withdraw concessions granted to US oil companies by previous administrations.

“And that is grave, because it is interfering with the economic interests of the imperialists,” Zelaya asserted.

Zelaya commented that because he had not permitted US interference, they began to accuse him of taking orders from the then Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez.

The situation arrived at such a point, he said, that in a meeting with the then president of the United States, George W. Bush, the latter asked him irately if he was giving Chávez what he wasn’t giving Washington.

The Honduran politician said that the decisive moment when the North American government decided against him was when they proposed to him that the city of San Pedro Sula become the site of a summit of the Organization of American States (OAS).

At that juncture, Zelaya recalled, “I accepted, but only if they would derogate the [legal] instruments approved decades ago to expel Cuba from that entity, which happened.

“I only wanted to repair an historic error that way,” Zelaya said, and added that this occurred on June 3, 2009. The coup d’état took place on the 28th of the same month.

Zelaya considers it necessary to analyze not only how subversive forces organize coups to expel progressive governments, but also the later effects of such events.

Relative to that, he mentioned the problems Honduras continues to live through following the coup, where for example violence has increased at impressive levels.

With the presence of the representatives of 35 parties and political movements from some 20 countries, the regional forum has been extended for two days to broach various questions over the progressive struggles of the area, as well as how to strengthen unity in the face of conservative restoration.

Translation mine.

So, it seems that the US interference in Honduras goes a lot deeper than just the coup of June 28, 2009. Even as soon as Mel Zelaya was elected, he was already facing the prospect of having to take instructions from Washington, relayed by the then US ambassador…or else. One of them was which government ministers to name; another was political asylum for the Bush the Elder’s nasty little dog, the CubanaBomber, Luis Posada Carriles (who is still stinking up Miami, predictably, though he is by all accounts a very illegal immigrant). Those two, I’m sure you’ll agree, are pretty damn shocking, and unacceptable to a democratically elected, sovereign head of state. And the third request, relatively benign, was to hold the OAS meeting in San Pedro Sula. That one was the only one Zelaya could agree to…on the condition that Cuba be let back into the OAS, after its expulsion following the 1959 revolution. Of course, as we well know, Cuba is still out of the OAS.

And Zelaya? Well, we all know what happened to him, too. Hustled out of country in his pajamas, en route to the Dominican Republic, in the wee hours of June 28, 2009. A military coup, covered up by a pseudo-democratic “parliamentary” veneer, in which a right-winger docile to all US commercial interests in Honduras was installed as “president”, while death squads dormant since the end of the 1980s were resurrected to wreak havoc and terror on progressive activists all over Honduras, and to silence the most vocal critics of Washington and its new, “democratic” Honduran puppets.

Other interesting notes: The oil concessions awarded by previous governments to US firms, which Zelaya no doubt knew were grossly exploitive and unfair to Honduras. He revoked those, probably with an eye to copying Chavecito’s very successful “sow the oil” scheme in Venezuela. Of course, duplicating an observed success is not the same thing as handing Honduran oil over to Venezuelan government interests! But to Washington’s paranoid mind, the two were one and the same. That no doubt helped seal Zelaya’s unholy fate, along with the equally unacceptable request that Cuba be brought back into the OAS.

It’s things like this that make a joke of the US’s claims to be a supporter of “freedom” and “democracy”, not to mention war criminals of at least two US presidents and their Secretaries of State. When, oh when, will we see them brought to trial in The Hague?

At long last, El Narco’s legal chickens come home to roost

Venezuelan journalist José Vicente Rangel reveals that a certain Colombian ex-president’s troubles, which hung over his time in office like a cloud of smog over a mountain city, have not dissipated with his departure from official power. In fact, they’ve only intensified since. And now, it appears they are coming to a head:

“As we have already predicted, the situation of Colombian ex-president Álvaro Uribe is growing more complicated by the day,” stated José Vicente Rangel on Sunday, warning that the ex-president was in grave political and legal difficulties.

During the “Confidentials” section of his program, José Vicente Today, on the private channel Televen, the journalist said that the weight Uribe still maintains in the politics of his land, and the powers that support him, have not served to prevent his case from coming before the Colombian senate, under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, nor to prevent several court cases against him from making their way through the legal system.

“What is the main point of the question? Firstly, the historic relationship between Uribe and narcotrafficking, and, later, his participation in the formation of paramilitary groups, starting with the “Convivir”, a mafia organization he inaugurated,” said Rangel.

In this sense, Rangel said that the case of the Colombian ex-president has just been brought before the Colombian senate by senator Iván Cepeda.

Rangel pointed out that Cepeda presented “a very broad and rigorous report which begins with the investigation of the time in which Uribe, being a functionary of the government of Antioquia [province], expedited flight permits for planes belonging to the famous drug lord, Pablo Escobar Gavíria.”

Rangel added that the document reflects “the close ties of the ex-president with paramilitarism, which he used to sow terror and interfere in the electoral process.”

“This part of the dossier contains testimonies by important narcotrafficking chiefs, and of paramilitaries directly involved [with Uribe]. What will happen to Uribe? He attributes what’s going on to the manoeuvres of President Santos with those who are trying to eliminate him as a political rival. Uribe is stuck in a tunnel which apparently has no way out,” Rangel reflected.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

So, it looks like “El Doptor Varito” is finally seeing his chickens coming home to roost. After more than 20 years, it’s about time. And with any luck, maybe his political goose will be cooked as well.