Nelson Bocaranda struck the bullseye dead center today with this one-line explanation of why President Hugo Chavez is desperately seeking a constitutional reform allowing his indefinite re-election:
¿PROPÓSITO DE ENMIENDA?
“Ninguno. Propósito de ser presidente vitalicio para morir en la cama y evitar la posibilidad de ir a un juicio nacional o internacional por los delitos cometidos.”
Chavez wants to be president-for-life of Venezuela to guarantee his immunity from prosecution for:
* Conspiring to commit murder on April 11, 2002;
* Personally ordering his accomplices in the conspiracy to commit multiple murders on April 11, 2002;
* Crimes against humanity committed against the 19 people murdered by chavista thugs on April 11, 2002;
* Treason for systematically and willfully ignoring since 1999 the laws and Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela;
* Malfeasance in office for allowing his family and closest followers to amass fortunes by stealing from the State and other acts of corruption.
And these crimes probably would be just the tip of a very large iceberg.
There has never been a real, transparent and impartial investigation of the events leading up to and including the political violence of April 11-14, 2002.
Instead, acting on orders issued personally by President Chavez on April 15, 2002, the National Assembly, Attorney General and the Public Defender fabricated three “investigations” which are 100% false with respect to the findings, charges and conclusions contained in all three reports.
But no one with the power to pursue serious investigations – including the international news media, the US Congress and Justice/State Departments, the OAS and EU – ever made any effort to do so.
The “official history” of what actually happened in Venezuela on April 11-14, 2002 was spun by President Chavez, his Cuba-supported international propaganda machine, and Washington-based leftist institutions and think tanks like Americas Human Rights Watch, COHA, etc.
The international news media embraced the Chavez regime’s official lies without reservation, particularly the completely false assertion that the administration of US President George W. Bush had sponsored “the failed coup attempt against Chavez.”
The New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek and Time, to name only four global dailies and news magazines among dozens more who bought Chavez’s lies without question, focused on the Bush administration’s alleged involvement in the “coup against Chavez” instead of doing some in-country investigative reporting to obtain real, accurate and truthful news.
These “dead wood” news media are notoriously unwilling to accept any criticism of how they “report” the news. However, their coverage of the Venezuelan political crisis post-April 11-14, 2002 encouraged a political hatchet job on Otto Juan Reich, the former US Ambassador to Venezuela who was President George W. Bush’s nominee for the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Newsweek even pursued an alleged link between the coup plotters and Venezuelan media mogul Gustavo Cisneros, based on allegations less substantial than flatulence, and wound wearing egg on its face.
The liberal media and Democratic Party witch hunt against Reich was led by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who seized on the tragedy suffered by millions of Venezuelans to pursue a longtime personal vendetta against Reich dating from the Central American wars of the 1980s.
Dodd’s personal animosity towards Reich goes way beyond ideological differences. Dodd hates Reich viscerally, and the “dead tree” mainstream US news outlets listed in this post joined Dodd’s crusade against Reich.
When Dodd finally realized that he was chasing ghosts and that Chavez probably was deeply involved in the killings and alleged coup attempt of April 11, he used his power on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to block public and even closed-door congressional hearings. Dodd did not want any egg on his face, so screw the truth about Chavez and the future of Venezuelan democracy.
Unfortunately (and stupidly), Republican congressional leaders failed to hold House and Senate investigative hearings to get at the truth of what happened in Caracas on April 11-14, 2002. They were focused on the new war on terror declared by President Bush after the 911 attacks. Venezuela was irrelevant in that climate.
So instead of investigating, as they should have, the Bush administration and Republican congressional leaders pushed the State Department’s Inspector General in 2002 to complete an internal “investigation” which concluded, truthfully, that no one in the Bush administration’s State Department was involved in any way, had prior knowledge of, or encouraged the alleged plotters to launch a coup against Chavez.
The EU didn’t do any investigating, but that’s not surprising. Since 1990 EU leaders have danced a two-faced two-step with Latin America, talking up the need for more trans-Atlantic commercial and political integration, but delaying and postponing every real chance at any kind of integration.
The OAS didn’t do anything either. Then-OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria tripped conveniently over the organization’s democratic charter, which had been approved in Lima on 11 September 2001 as terrorists were crashing commercial passenger jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Of course, Gaviria had a legitimate excuse to align the OAS behind Chavez and the democracy charter after Pedro Carmona and a group of ultra-conservative Copei officials very close to former President Rafael Caldera, stupidly tried to seize power for themselves, betraying all Venezuelans, crippling an emerging pro-democracy civil society movement, and handing Chavez a real coup attempt on a silver platter.
Carmona, a career business lobbyist, was a front man and mouthpiece puppet for the Caldera family in April 2002.
Over the years Caracas Gringo has interviewed several very close friends of former President Rafael Caldera. These individuals insist unanimously that the ex-president never was involved in plotting a coup, and that he would never countenance anyone in his family or political circle engaging in conspiracies against Venezuela’s democratically elected president.
Caracas Gringo agrees it’s likely that ex-President Caldera did not have any direct, personal knowledge of conspiracies against Chavez being cooked within his closest political circle. Caldera was in very poor physical and mental health when he left the presidency at the start of 1999.
But Caracas Gringo also has confirmed, beyond any reasonable doubt, that two of Caldera’s sons, a son-in-law who is a retired army general, and the son-in-law’s brother (also retired army), were directly and personally involved in conspiring to oust Chavez from power. These are some of the people Carmona refers to in his book when he talks about “falling on (his) sword” for others.
This group’s goal was to get rid of Chavez, expel all of his followers from the government, and install a new government controlled by the Caldera family and a group of ultra-conservative Copei officials close to Caldera (including several senior members of Opus Dei). Carmona would be their talking parrot, but all policy decisions would be made by this group.
The treachery of Carmona and the Caldera family was a welcome development for Gaviria, because the OAS Secretary General was a scared man in 2002. Cuban intelligence had compromised Gaviria at the OAS by 2002, especially with respect to a group of young aides who were nicknamed “el kinder de Gaviria” within the OAS.
Fidel Castro (ergo Chavez) held Gaviria over burning coals. “Si jodes, te jodemos.”
Gaviria understood the message, complacently dancing to Chavez’s tune from 2002 until after the presidential recall referendum of August 2004.
Almost seven years have passed since April 11, 2002, but President Chavez and others in the revolution who conspired and committed egregious crimes on that day still could be prosecuted in Venezuelan or international courts.
The offenses of homicide and crimes against humanity do not prescribe under Venezuelan law; courts in Argentina, Chile and Brazil have found former military officers guilty of murders and crimes against humanity committed in the 1960s and 1970s; the International Court of Justice prosecuted former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic; The US government invaded Panama in 1989 to arrest its ruler, Manuel Noriega, who is now jailed for life in a US federal super-max prison.
There are many precedents arguing for the possibility that someday President Chavez and his associates could be prosecuted and punished for their bloodiest crimes.
This is, fundamentally, why President Chavez is so desperately adamant about reforming the constitution to guarantee his perpetual re-election, and that of his closest followers. Indefinite re-election is a guarantee that Chavez can continue to bury the truth about april 11, 2002 in a pit of lies and secure permanent immunity from criminal prosecution.
Chavez wants perpetual re-election to avoid standing before Justice in this world. He offered his elected followers the possibility of perpetual re-election because many of them were involved in the conspiracy led by Chavez as of second-half 2001 to fabricate a coup attempt that would justify mass slaughter, indefinite martial law and the imprisonment of all his real and imagined political enemies.
When they gather in their revolutionary conclaves, these co-conspirators in murder likely share a common thought: “We’re all in this together, comrades. If I go down I’m taking down everyone else with me.”
A partial list of co-conspirators includes the individuals who in 2002 served Chavez as Executive Vice-President, the Interior & Justice and Defense Ministers, the Attorney General, the commander of the Armed Forces, the commander of the Army’s Third Division at Fort Tiuna, and the commanding officers of the Air Force, Navy and National Guard. This partial list also includes individuals like Freddy Bernal, Juan Barreto, Cilia Flores and Nicolas Maduro, etc.
It is not coincidental that some of these individuals are now in the forefront of Chavez’s drive to force a constitutional amendment which, de facto, would guarantee them immunity from prosecution for their many crimes for at least another 15-20 years. And they expect that with the passage of time, the truth will fade as Venezuela, a demographically young nation with no memory of history, forgets the recent past.