On January 29, 2003, The U.S. daily, the Wall Street Journal, published an editorial revealing the existence of terrorist training camps in Florida. Rodolfo Frómeta, a Cuban, and former Army Captain Luis Eduardo García, a Venezuelan, are named in the article as the leaders of the paramilitary coalition formed by the “F-4 Commandos” and “The Venezuelan Patriotic Junta.” García, a former Captain, was one of the leaders of the defeated coup against democratically elected president Hugo Chavez Frías in Venezuela in April 2002.
The training camps located in the Florida Everglades seem to have escaped the reach of the Department of Homeland Security, which was created by President Bush as a way of protecting the United States against terrorist attacks. This oversight seems to come from the fact that this coalition was not set up to attack the United States; instead, it follows the tradition of the Contras and their terror campaign in Nicaragua, and other groups such as Alpha 66 and the F-4 itself and their terror campaigns against Cuba. This time the coalition between F-4 and the Venezuelan Junta has been set up to train paramilitary forces to terrorize Venezuela.
Shortly after the Wall Street Journal article came out, the Venezuelan government made information available to the U.S. embassy in Venezuela specifically detailing the activities carried out by these two groups. The Venezuelan government did not receive a response from the U.S. embassy at that time. It was not until plans to assassinate President Chávez surfaced, during his planned visit to Harlem, New York last September, that the Venezuelan government went public denouncing the plot and the existence of terrorist groups, training freely in Florida, conspiring to overthrow the government. In addition, in a televised appearance before the international media, Chavez revealed that his government is in possession of a video, secretly recorded by his security forces, of a CIA officer giving a class to Venezuelans on surveillance.
Even though President Chavez did not cite the Wall Street Journal article specifically, the international media picked up the report and have challenged the U.S. government to come forward with an explanation for its double standard on terrorism.
The United States was slow in responding. On September 30th, a few days after Chavez’s statements, the U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, Charles S. Shapiro stated, “it is not necessarily a crime … but we are in the full process of collecting information and we must follow all legal procedures … if there is anyone to blame, our government knows what to do.”
Showing a certain disdain and even annoyance he also stated, “some Venezuelans have been receiving military training in the United States.”
He further admitted that the information was also published in a Miami newspaper a year ago, but he was unable to explain why no action was taken by the Homeland Security Department. “We’re not going to take action against anybody … we haven’t been able to make any headway.”
The Venezuelan President has been relentless in pursuing the issue. “Who gave the United States government the right to bomb cities, invade countries, overthrow governments?” Chávez asked. “No one gave this right to the United States government. And here, we will keep saying that.”
The United States was cornered. It could come clean and say that its policy is that terrorism is okay when it is carried out against unfriendly governments or political movements, an admission that would create a public uproar. Alternatively, it could go and dismantle the terrorist group in south Florida, paying a high political price and alienating politicians in Miami.
It decided to go with the usual tactic and make baseless accusations against the Venezuelan government, stating that it is the Venezuelans who are supporting and sponsoring terrorism. For this task, they picked Linda Robinson, a writer for U.S. News and World Report. How Robinson and the U.S. News and World Report were chosen as the means for the dissemination of false propaganda against Venezuela is something about which I do not want to speculate; history will probably tell one day.
Robinson’s article came out on October 6th and is a sample of propaganda- journalism. Among other things, Ms. Robinson claims that the Chavez administration is importing foreigners en masse and giving them Venezuelan passports. She does not provide any factual backing for this statement. The article also mentions the case of Hakim Mamad al Diab Fatah and blames the Venezuelan government for failing to keep tabs on him after the U.S. deported him in 2002. U.S. authorities themselves detained Diab Fatah in the United States, but then deported him (rather than keeping him in jail) because they lacked sufficient evidence to justify holding him. If Diab Fatah was indeed the dangerous character that Robinson’s unnamed sources claim, one wonders why the United States set him free in the first place. In the aftermath of September 11, the U.S. government has not been reluctant to hold foreigners in custody on mere suspicion of involvement with terrorist activities.
Ms. Robinson also joined Venezuelan and Colombian politicians and media conglomerates in falsely claiming that the Venezuelan government has been involved in supporting the FARC guerilla organization.
These absurd claims have been proven absolutely false over and over again. For example on August 8, 2003, the Colombian newspaper, El Espectador, published an article that states that Moises Roberto Boyer Riobueno claimed to have been a pilot for Venezuelan vice president Jose Rangel and claimed to have helped ferry FARC commanders in and out of Colombia on Rangel’s orders. The Colombian intelligence service later found every one of Boyer’s claims to be false and he was deported. Boyer’s declarations had appeared in newspapers worldwide. Once it was exposed that his statements were fabricated, his case disappeared from the press without clarification.
None of the statements made by Ms. Robinson can endure the test of validation. What led or misled Ms. Robinson to endanger her career by writing an article of this kind is something to wonder about. The people in the United States are everyday learning more and more about what is really happening in Venezuela and other countries. They have access to alternative sources of information and they are learning to be suspicious of its government’s assessments and affirmations (see weapons of mass destruction and Iraq).
President Chávez has invited Ms. Robinson to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Maybe she should take advantage of the invitation and immerse herself in the realities of a country that is building a system of participatory democracy through a peaceful process. Venezuela is building a peace and a democracy that terrorist groups from Miami would like to destroy.
The Venezuelan government is still waiting for the U.S. government to respond regarding the Miami terrorist groups.
Dozthor Zurlent is a Venezuelan native and he is the editor of www.CasaVenezuela.org.
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This article was originally published by YellowTimes.org