Mérida, 10th July 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan journalist and former vice president Jose Vicente Rangel accused the conservative opposition of buying eighteen war planes in the United States as part of an alleged “aggression” planned against the government.
Rangel made the accusation yesterday on his weekly politics show Jose Vicente Hoy. According to Rangel, members of the Venezuelan opposition met with executives of a U.S. arms company in San Antonio, Texas, toward the end of May.
“They [opposition politicians] looked through some catalogues and chose a certain model. They signed a sales contract for eighteen planes that at the beginning of November at the latest will be taken to a U.S. military base in Colombia,” said Rangel.
Rangel didn’t disclose the source of his information, but stated that it was “very serious” and urged Venezuelan, Colombian and U.S. authorities to investigate.
“This information shouldn’t be underestimated given the climate of political and media aggression which currently exists against Venezuela. Is an armed aggression being prepared, duly camouflaged with the participation of mercenaries?” the journalist asked.
Jose Rangel also claimed that visits made by opposition ex-presidential candidate Henrique Capriles abroad to argue that the government of President Nicolas Maduro is “illegitimate” were being paid for by the Washington-based National Democratic Institute (NDI).
Capriles responded to the accusations through social network Twitter, strongly denying Rangel’s claim that the Venezuelan opposition had bought war planes.
“Good joke about the war planes,” the Capriles wrote. “Something only possible in a dark and twisted mind, like the one of this awful person [Rangel],” he continued. The opposition leader did not comment on the accusation that he receives funding from the NDI.
Colombian paramilitaries captured
Meanwhile, Venezuela’s Ministry of Interior Affairs today confirmed the capture of two Colombian paramilitary groups on Venezuelan territory.
One of these groups, consisting of six people, was captured in the border state of Tachira. According to interior affairs minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres, this group “planned to go to Caracas to complete a mission, which was unknown to them, but for which they were awaiting instructions”.
The second group, of three people, was captured in Portuguesa state, where they had acquired a farm and planned to “convert it into a centre of operations”. Both groups were armed, with the second group also in possession of Venezuelan military uniforms, a black box, and other flight equipment, Torres reported.
The minister also stated that preliminary questioning had revealed that “links exist between both groups captured” and that a third paramilitary group is already installed within the Venezuelan capital, “awaiting orders to carry out actions”.
Investigations are underway to establish if these groups have links with the “extreme Venezuelan right-wing”. The minister said that he wouldn’t be surprised if these groups had as a mission to “make an attempt on the life of President Maduro or any official in the Venezuelan state”.
Before the 14 April presidential election the Venezuelan government had also announced the existence of “foreign mercenaries” on national territory, then reporting that these had been captured and their destabilisation plan “dismantled”.
The largest scale attempt to use foreign paramilitaries to destabilise Venezuela was in May 2004, when almost 120 Colombian paramilitaries in Venezuelan military uniforms were discovered on a private estate near Caracas. Authorities at the time reported that these were to be used as part of an uprising organised by the Venezuelan far-right against the government of Hugo Chavez.
According to the then-head of Venezuela’s National Intelligence Service (Sebin), figures such as Henrique Capriles and former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe were also involved in the 2004 plot.