President Hugo Chavez claims the US government is planning a military invasion of Venezuela.
Chavez insists that the US-Colombia agreement giving US counter-narcotics/counter-terrorism assets the right to deploy from at least a half-dozen military bases in Colombia is the first stage of the planned invasion. He calls condemns the US-Colombia agreement as an “act of aggression” against Venezuela.
Cuban leader Fidel Castro is parroting these wild and baseless accusations by Chavez; so are the other ALBA countries – Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.
Caracas Gringo commented in earlier posts – here and here – that it’s likely Chavez’s threats of an imminent war against Colombia are part of a local political strategy to destabilize Tachira state, so that democratically elected Governor Cesar Perez Vivas can be replaced with a presidentially-appointed military governor. We also listed three other possible reasons why Chavez appears to be seeking an armed military conflict with Colombia.
But on further reflection, there’s a fifth possible reason: President Chavez is knowingly defending the shared geopolitical, strategic and economic interests of the FARC and the transnational crime/narco-terrorist alliances which are deeply rooted at the highest levels of the Bolivarian revolution.
Chavez calls his revolution “21st Century Socialism.” But the reality is that almost 11 years of the Chavez regime have entrenched an increasingly militarized one-man regime where the most powerful actors after the president himself are all involved in criminal enterprises, some in direct association with the FARC and other international crime groups.
Connecting some dots:
*The US-Colombia base use agreement will significantly enhance counter-narcotics and counter-terrorist deployments against narco-terrorist groups and international drug traffickers. These enhanced capabilities should strengthen/improve the Colombian government’s military offensive against the FARC, which controls over 50% of the illegal narcotics business (cocaine and heroin) in Colombia.
*These enhanced US capabilities within Colombia will make it easier to detect and track shipments of illegal drugs out of Colombia and illegal weapons and explosives into Colombia. It also will be much easier to detect and track the cross-border movements of the FARC and other criminal groups operating on both sides of the Venezuela-Colombia border. In fact, the locations of the bases the US forces will deploy from in Colombia confirm that there will be more detailed, round-the-clock monitoring of drug-related and other criminal activities along Colombia’s borders with Ecuador and Venezuela.
*Counter-narcotics officials in Colombia, the US, Netherland Antilles, and Trinidad & Tobago tell Caracas Gringo that the vast majority of illegal flights which are believed to be transporting cocaine to the Caribbean region originate within Venezuela, mainly in two areas: southern Apure and eastern Sucre states. At least 70% of the cocaine and heroin shipped through Venezuela each year is “owned” by the FARC. But the Chavez regime to date has not seized a single shipment of FARC-owned cocaine or heroin in Venezuela. A review of the official Bolivarian news agency reports on cocaine seizures finds that ABN usually identifies the “drug traffickers” who own the seized shipments as paramilitaries, if at all.
*Three of President Chavez’s closest security “advisers” – former Interior & Justice Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, Defense Ministry intelligence (DGIM) director Hugo “El Pollo” Carvajal, and former political police (Disip) director Henry Rangel Silva – were officially designated by the US government in September 2008 as active material collaborators of the FARC. Caracas Gringo has written about these gangsters previously in The Rise of Bolivarian Organized Crime.
Other recent posts on the transnational crime groups in the Chavez regime include:
*Carvajal, Chacin and other senior officers in the Venezuelan National Guard and Army are actively involved with protecting FARC-owned drug shipments through Venezuela, and/or they are directly involved in drug trafficking. Over the past couple of years, Spanish and other European Union authorities have seized thousands of kilos of cocaine which originated from Venezuela. West African law enforcement also reports a surge in drug seizures which originate in Venezuela.
*Caracas Gringo has discussed at length the powerful organized crime groups within the Chavez regime, particularly the group headed by Public works and Housing Minister Diosdado Cabello. But a series of odd movements recently in the banking system tend to confirm suspicions that members of President Chavez’s family are directly involved in the criminal enterprises of the Cabello group and other crime organizations operating from within the Bolivarian revolution, and at very senior levels.**
*Many of the FARC’s senior leaders hide in Venezuela with the Chavez regime’s active collusion. At least three FARC Fronts operate actively in Venezuela, mainly in the drug trafficking, arms smuggling and money laundering businesses. At least 2,000 FARC fighters may be based inside Venezuela across a half-dozen states including Apure, Tachira, Trujillo, Merida, Barinas and Zulia. The FARC launders hundreds of millions of dollars in “profits” from its criminal enterprises in Venezuela’s financial system. Indeed, a lot of the “seed capital” used by certain Bolibourgeois “empresarios” to buy banks in recent years is believed to be related to FARC drug trafficking activities.
*President Chavez forged his strategic/political alliance with the FARC in 1994, a few months after he was freed from Yare prison. Rodriguez Chacin accompanied Chavez to meetings in Colombia with senior FARC leaders. Ever since, Rodriguez Chacin has been Chavez’s personal liaison to the FARC. In effect, Rodriguez Chacin speaks for Chavez with the FARC.
Possible Conclusion: The US-Colombia base use agreement is a very real threat to the cross-border criminal enterprises in which the FARC and senior Chavez regime figures are involved. The agreement also threatens Chavez directly, because enhanced US counter-narcotics/counter-terrorism capabilities based out of Colombia should be expected to accumulate substantial evidence of the Chavez regime’s engagement with, and support for, international drug trafficking and narco-terrorist organizations operating in Colombia and in other countries besides Venezuela like, say, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru – even Mexico. Perhaps Chavez’s reckless threats of war against Colombia, and his wild charges of an imminent US military invasion from Colombia are rooted in his growing fears of being exposed as a tyrant who is partnered with some of the world’s worst criminals and terrorists.
**It appears that the president’s older brother, Adan Chavez, is the family’s finance “czar” and first cousin Asdrubal Chavez is the guardian of the family’s economic and political interests in the oil and gas industry. Ricardo Fernandez Barrueco, the owner of four bankrupt banks and a longtime “testaferro” for Diosdado Cabello, has wormed his way into Adan’s inner circle over the past year, sources tell Caracas Gringo. And over at Pdvsa, first cousin Asdrubal is reportedly close to Baldo Sanso, the brother-in-law of Energy Minister/Pdvsa president Rafael Ramirez. Baldo and Asdrubal reportedly have amassed substantial fortunes separately during the past two years by “intermediating” in Pdvsa’s bond issues and other “negocios.”