Caracas, Venezuela, December 13, 2005—Venezuelan exiles, along with help from the Bush administration and dissident Venezuelan military officers planned actions that would bring international discredit to the Chavez government during last week’s National Assembly elections, said several deputies from Venezuela’s National Assembly today. Nicolas Maduro, Celia Flores, Dario Vivas, and Ricardo Sanguino presented three taped phone conversations today that they say support this allegation.
Introducing the tapes, National Assembly President Nicolas Maduro explained that these recording are evidence of a larger conspiracy to destabilize the government and that they were to coincide with the opposition’s withdrawal from the elections. According to Maduro, sectors of the opposition hoped that the elections would be canceled due to the opposition’s boycott and that this cancellation would then be used to generate a crisis in Venezuela.
“We are convinced that it was calculated, a few hours after the withdrawal of the last opposition party, the start of an attack against military units, pipelines, state government offices, and other institutions,” said Maduro
The taped phone conversations, whose source the deputies said they could not reveal, were all between two Venezuelan women, Patricia Andrade and Tamara Suju. Andrade is a Venezuelan who has lived in Miami for the past ten years and is connected to the Bush administration’s former assistant secretary for Western Hemispheric affairs, Otto Reich. The deputies showed a picture of Andrade and Reich during their press conference. Andrade heads the Venezuela Awareness Foundation in Miami.
Tamara Suju is the niece of Oswaldo Suju Rafu, a retired Venezuelan general that lawmakers accused of planning violent actions in Venezuela during last week’s December 4 National Assembly vote.
AN Deputies Maduro, Flores, and Vivas had presented three recordings last week, in which various retired dissident military officers, including Colonel Suju discussed the need to cause disturbances leading up to the December 4 vote.
The conversations that the lawmakers presented to the press today deal with the need to free “political prisoners” in Venezuela and to have them apply for political asylum in the U.S., on the basis that Venezuela tortures prisoners. Also, the two women talk about holding a press conference the day after the National Assembly (AN) elections, in which human rights abuses are denounced.
According to AN deputy Celia Flores, who chairs Chavez’s MVR party in parliament, Patricia Andrade works together with Republican U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the CIA. “She is an undercover agent who works for the CIA and is in direct contact with destabilizing and terrorist sectors that live in Venezuela…,” said Flores.
Adrade denied these allegations in an interview with the Venezuelan TV channel Globovisión, shortly after the parliamentarians’ press conference.
Tamara Suju, the other woman in the taped conversations, is also a close friend of General Felipe Rodriguez, known as “The Crow” (El Cuervo), who is currently in prison on charges of having instigated the murder of three soldiers and a woman in February 2003. Also, he is suspected of having planned the bombings of the Colombian and Spanish consulates in March 2003.
In the course of the conversation between the two women, they also mention the need to send something to Venezuela, via the an embassy diplomatic pouch. According to Flores, this shows that the U.S. embassy is also involved in the plans.
The conversation also appeared to implicate two of Venezuela’s main television channels, when Suju said that their plans could count on the cooperation of the oppositional TV channels RCTV and Globovision.
Andrade: “We need to start with the prisoners. Here in the United States there is talk of emblematic cases, but we need the media in order to start screaming over here.”
Suju: “Count on Globvisión and Radio Caracas Television [RCTV]. With Alberto Federico [Ravell, director of Globovisión] there is no problem, nor with channel 2 [RCTV].”
Vivas explained that it seemed the opposition was hoping that three of their candidates who are in prison would be elected and would be freed, due to parliamentary immunity, which would then have allowed them to seek refugee status in the U.S. The boycott of some opposition parties, though, spoiled this plan, said Vivas.
The third recording between the two women mentions that the political prisoners “will go to the embassy and there they will give them the status of refugees.” Flores again stated that the embassy that was being referred to is the U.S. embassy.
Maduro said that the National Assembly would create a special commission to investigate the findings he and other Deputies presented today and last week. Flores mentioned that more evidence would be forthcoming in the next few weeks, as it was still being analyzed.