Venezuelan Lawmakers Accuse Dissident Military of Destabilization Plan

Lawmakers Flores and Carreno presented recordings of conversations with dissident officers who were talking about causing up to 15,000 deaths in a wave of violence during last week's election. The plan was for the most part thwarted in time. They said the CIA was also involved.

Caracas, Venezuela, December 9, 2005—Venezuelan state intelligence forces thwarted a plot to destabilize Venezuela during last Sunday’s parliamentary election, explained three pro-Chavez Leaders of Venezuela’s National Assembly yesterday. The three lawmakers, National Assembly President Nicolas Maduro, MVR party leader Celia Flores, and National Assembly Vice President Pedro Carreño, presented recordings involving active and retired dissident military officers talking about causing 15,000 deaths, chaos, and attacks on government institutions. According to the lawmakers, the CIA supported this plan.

The recordings included the voices of various retired officers who were involved in the April 2002 coup attempt and are currently being sought by the police.

One of the recordings involved retired General Oswaldo Sujú Rafo, who is talking to an unidentified individual and discusses the need to purchase weapons, such as 40 “AT-4,” which is an anti-tank guided missile launcher, among other weapons. Also, he says that bloodshed must be provoked, which could cause the deaths of up to 15,000 Venezuelans. “The event must produce an eruption in the people. We have to expect around 15,000 deaths,” says General Sujú Rafo in the recording.

In another recording, Colonel Carlos González Caraballo, also retired and wanted by state authorities, talks to his wife and how she should not go onto the streets on election day.

National Assembly (AN) member and party leader Celia Flores suggested that one of the reasons opposition parties withdrew from the election so abruptly last week was because they were told about the destabilization plan. “We saw opposition leaders abruptly withdraw and we said that whoever withdraws from the electoral path does so because they have another option under their sleeve,” said Flores. “If [the opposition parties] knew about it, they committed a crime against the homeland and if they did not know it, they served as useful fools when they withdrew from the election,” she added.

The explosion of two small devices known in Venezuela as “niple,” a few days before the election, and the sabotage of a major oil pipeline on election eve were part of the plan, said the lawmakers.

Given the amount of money needed to finance such weapons purchases, Flores said that the CIA must be supporting the plotters. “The CIA is behind this plan and we will continue to look for evidence so that we can demonstrate that new acts of violence are being processed,” stated Flores.

AN Vice President Pedro Carreño also insisted that a larger power must be behind these plans. “Undoubtedly we are in the presence of a superior body that is in charge of concocting all of these actions and which will benefit from the deaths of thousands of Venezuelans. Celia Flores and [AN President] Nicolas Maduro are not mistaken when they say that behind this is the CIA,” said Carreño.

The night before the election, an explosion destroyed a part of the oil pipeline that supplies Venezuela’s Paraguaná oil refining complex, one of the largest in the world. Authorities later explained that the explosion was caused by C-4 plastic explosive. A day earlier, officials discovered 24 kilos of C-4 and various weapons and grenades in Zulia state, in Western Venezuela.

President Chavez and members of his government have repeatedly accused the U.S. of being involved in plots to kill him and to destabilize his government with terrorist actions. While government officials have so far not presented concrete proof for these accusations, it has been documented that the CIA knew in advance of the April 2002 coup attempt against Chavez and that the U.S. government, via institutions such as the National Endowment for Democracy and the US Agency for International Development, has provided opposition groups with millions of dollars of support.