Everyone is demanding respect and accountability since Spanish penal Judge Eloy Velasco issued a 26-page indictment charging 13 alleged FARC and ETA members with cooperating in the training, planning and execution of terrorist actions in Colombia and Spain.
The indictment says explicitly that the FARC-ETA activities were conducted largely in Venezuela with the active cooperation/support of officials who serve in President Hugo Chavez’s government.
The indictment’s publication kicked up an immediate diplomatic brouhaha.
Spanish PM Rodriguez Zapatero demanded an “explanation” from President Chavez, who replied on national television that he doesn’t have to “explain anything to anyone on the planet” (sic). Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and Chavez’s Ambassador to Spain Isaias Rodriguez condemned the indictment.
Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos waffled immediately, saying that Madrid had requested “information” and not an “explanation.”
But other Spanish ministers including the heads of Defense and Interior made it clear that Madrid is still waiting for explanations from Caracas.
Meanwhile, the usual wild charges spewed from Caracas: “…US-led international conspiracies, the Spanish news media covering the story are tied to Aznar’s conservative PP, Judge Velasco is an agent of the Spanish right wing, it’s all lies and fabrications, there’s not a shred of evidence, no Venezuelans were indicted, etc.”
Some Venezuelan “oppo” leaders made some noise about the Spanish court’s indictment, but were mostly eclipsed in the news cycle by the group fist fight that erupted at a meeting of the Unity Table in Valencia.
Over in Spain, the judicial establishment closed ranks and demanded respect for Judge Velasco, who had become the instant target of beaucoup trash talk from the Chavez regime and some Spanish leftists.
By the past weekend, the Venezuelan and Spanish foreign ministries issued a joint communiqué declaring that bilateral relations have never been better. Apparently, everyone has received the respect everyone demanded, for now.
But the truce between Caracas and Madrid may not last. The Spanish court’s criminal indictment isn’t going away. Judge Velasco is conducting an ongoing criminal court proceeding over which PM Zapatero’s executive branch has no legal or constitutional say.
Of course, no one can predict how this judicial process will evolve in the future. Remember that Spanish courts spent many years trying to bring former Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet to account.
But the criminal indictment stands, and will not be withdrawn by the Spanish courts. And it contains many explicit allegations:
*The indictment says that security officials with the Chavez government provided physical security and transportation services for FARC and ETA members.
*The indictment also says that FARC and ETA “experts” trained each other at various FARC camps in Venezuela. These bilateral training sessions included bomb manufacture and assembly, urban terror strategies and tactics, and making homemade mortars from gas cylinders which can strike targets at ranges of 400-600 meters (a FARC specialty).
*The indictment says that ETA’s top leader in Latin America was a Spanish national who fled to Venezuela in 1989 because he was wanted by the Spanish government on charges of terrorism and homicide. (This wanted Basque terrorist was a relatively senior official in Venezuela’s Agriculture and Lands Ministry in 2005 (and possibly longer), about the same time that current Vice President Elias Jaua held the agriculture and lands portfolio. The Spanish court’s indictment does not mention Jaua, but in Venezuela Jaua is widely believed to be ETA’s biggest supporter inside the Bolivarian officialdom.)
*The indictment also says that ETA’s top leader in Caracas/Latin America was responsible for liaising directly with very senior FARC leaders including Rodrigo Granda and Ivan Marquez.
*The indictment also says that ETA members in Cuba designed homemade explosive devices while in Cuba that later were assembled and apparently tested in Venezuela. Nothing happens in Cuba without the Castro regime’s knowledge. ETA members engaged in designing explosive devices would have raised red flags – unless the Castro regime was helping ETA and the FARC like the Chavez regime is accused of doing.
More background details also have come to light since Judge Velasco issued the indictment on 1 March.
Colombian government officials told Bogota dailies that Judge Velasco based his indictment partly on evidence provided by the Colombian government, including numerous written communications and documents that were recovered from laptops seized from the guerrilla camp in northern Ecuador where FARC’s No. 2 leader, Raul Reyes, was killed by a Colombian air strike on 1 March 2008.
Officials in Bogota and Madrid also confirmed that Velasco received very detailed direct eyewitness testimony from
at least one four former FARC militants who participated in some of the training sessions with ETA members conducted inside Venezuelan territory.
Caracas Gringo believes this issue has not been laid to rest. Moratinos might seek to keep things on a low key for the foreseeable future. The Foreign Ministry reportedly forwarded copies of the indictment and other information to Caracas to help the Chavez regime obtain the information requested gently and oh-so-nicely by the Foreign Ministry.
But Judge Velasco will continue his criminal proceedings independently of the executive branch, which includes the foreign ministry.
Moreover, Spain’s interior and defense ministries, which together with the judiciary are responsible for maintaining public order, thwarting national security threats including terrorism and drug trafficking, and upholding the rule of law, also have different priorities than Moratinos.
As a result, it should be expected that more damning evidence linking Chavez regime officials directly and personally to FARC and ETA inside Venezuela probably will come to light in the not-distant future.
There already is very substantial evidence confirming the Chavez regime’s strategic, political and tactical links to the FARC and the smaller ELN, and to groups like the Bolivarian Liberation Front (FBL) in Venezuela, Shining Path in Peru, ETA, etc.
Other international entities that monitor/interdict terrorist groups, drug trafficking organizations and other transnational crime enterprises have no doubts at all that some Chavez regime officials are actively cooperating and working with international terrorist and drug trafficking groups.
These entities are in Washington, D.C and at the United Nations; in Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Mexico; in Spain, UK, the Netherlands, Italy and Portugal; in Caribbean states like Trinidad & Tobago and Dominican Republic; and in some West African and Middle Eastern capitals.
They all have a very precise portrait of Bolivarian Venezuela’s current status as the world’s top trans-shipment country for mainly FARC-owned cocaine and heroin en route to Central and ultimately to North America through Mexico, the European Union, West Africa and the Middle East.
FARC alliances with armed political militant and organized crime groups have been confirmed regionally in Mexico, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Haiti/Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.
Trinidadian security officials told Caracas Gringo in September 2009 that the FARC is establishing an operational presence based on drug trafficking and arms smuggling in the Caribbean region, “leapfrogging” from island to island.
Documents extracted from a laptop seized by Colombian authorities when they killed FArc’s 48th Front commander Edgar Tovar not long ago showed that seven FARC commanders have consolidated a major piece of the Colombian cocaine trade; and also that the main FARC-controlled trafficking activities have shifted towards Colombia’s borders with Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama.
The documents extracted from Tivar’s laptop also show that the FARC has strategic and drugs/arms commercial alliances with Colombia’s three most-sought drug traffickers: Luis Calle Serna (alias “Comba”), Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, and Pedro Olivero Guerrero (alias “Cuchillo”) .
The FARC is a drug cartel, pure and simple, say Colombian and US sources.
But the FARC is also Chavez’s friend. Chavez has praised the FARC frequently during his 11-plus years destroying Venezuela. He supports granting the FARC’s demand for international recognition as a political belligerent, and always denies that there is any FARC presence in Venezuela. Chavez also roundly rejects all allegations that the Bolivarian regime is actively cooperating, and working, with the FARC in Colombia and other Latin American/Caribbean countries.
Chavez claims that all allegations that his regime cooperates with the FARC in any way whatsoever are simply lies, damned lies and international conspiracies concocted and financed by the hated gringo imperialists and the CIA.
But that pesky criminal indictment issued by Spanish penal judge Velasco is still out there. More skeletons could be unearthed at any time.
ETA’s Top Dog in Venezuela
Arturo José Cubillas Fontán: ETA militant charged with three homicides. Arrived in Venezuela in 1989 from Algeria, from which he was deported by French authorities. Cubillas Fontán has been ETA’s top official in Venezuela since 1999, and is responsible for personally coordinating relations between ETA and the FARC, with the official support of Venezuela’s Bolivarian government.
Cubillas Fontán was a director of Office of Administration and Services of the Agriculture and Lands Ministry. But since 2007 Cubillas Fontán has been chief (jefe) of security at the National Lands Institute (Inti), which is an arm of the Agriculture and Lands Ministry. Reportedly, Cubillas Fontán travels frequently to Apure, Barinas, Guarico, Cojedes, Tachira and other states.
Cubillas Fontan’s “responsibilities” include participating in land expropriations with National Guard troops sent to show muscle (i.e. weapons). He also has direct links to the Ezeqauiel Zamora Peasants National Front, which president Chavez created with an explicit mandate to “wage war against the latifundists.”
His wife, Goizeder Odriozola, is the Agriculture and Land Ministry’s director of information and public relations. But she also is described as “the right hand” of Vice President of Venezuela and still-Agriculture and Lands Minister Elias Jaua.
Cubillas Fontan arrived with Venezuela with ten other ETA members in 1989. Former Foreign Minister Enrique Tejera Paris says that former President Carlos Andres Perez accepted them in Venezuela after a personal appeal from former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez. But there was never a written agreement between Caracas and Madrid to allow 11 ETA terrorists to live indefinitely in Venezuela.
Spain dumped a large number of alleged ETA members in Venezuela during 1989-1990. Besides the 11 ETA militants who arrived from Algeria in 1989, another nine ETA militants arrived in 1990. Perhaps the idea was that keeping these Etarras out of Spain would spare Socialist PM Gonzalez some political and electoral headaches with Basque voters and smooth over tensions with radical separatists. Instead, the verbal deal struck by CAP and Gonzalez basically consolidated ETA’s physical presence in Venezuela.
Cubillas Fontan and other Etarras had to maintain low profiles for years. In the old pre-Chavez Venezuela, the government frequently aided Spain’s pursuit of ETA terrorists. But ETA relations with the Chavez regime have been very good since 2003, when the Defensoría del Pueblo de Venezuela upheld Cubillas Fontan’s claim that he was being persecuted politically by the Spanish police.
Cubillas Fontan is the chief architect of the good relations that exist today between ETA and the Chavez government. It’s difficult to pin down with any accuracy when the relationship was consolidated; possibly in 2005 when he joined the ministry. But it’s obvious that an important factor in ETA’s favor has been the close working (and political/personal) relationship between Cubillas Fontan’s wife and Vice President/Agriculture and Lands Minister Jaua.
ETA’s top dog in Venezuela has developed good relations with various radical/popular elements of the Bolivarian revolution, including the Coordinadora Simón Bolívar (CSB) and the Coordinadora Continental Bolivariana (CCB). The CSB is the umbrella entity funded and supported by the Chavez regime that claims to speak for numerous radical groups that will go to any lengths to defend their Bolivarian revolution, and the CCB is a FARC-inspired continental geopolitical initiative to spread radical revolution and instability regionally.