Two Venezuelan rebel military officers asked for political asylum in the United States alleging suffering from “political persecution".
National Guard lieutenant German Varela and Jose Antonio Colina are suspects in the investigation of the terrorist attacks against an office of the Spanish Embassy and the Consulate of Colombia in Caracas last February.
On November 19th, judge 11th of Control Deyanira Ortiz, issued arrest warrants for three rebel Venezuelan military officers suspects in the investigations. Varela and Colina are among the suspects along with National Guard (ret) Brigadier General Felipe Rodriguez.
The two officers are part of a group of military rebels who regularly gather at the Francia Square in the affluent eastern Caracas neighborhood of Altamira, to give anti-government speeches and make calls to overthrow President Chavez.
According to a report by the El Nuevo Herald of Miami, the two officers arrived in the US on December 19th in a flight coming from Bogota, Colombia. They managed elude Venezuelan police authorities and escaped to Colombia through the Tachira state.
The two terrorist suspects arrived in the US with tourist visas. "We can confirm that these two people are under custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office", said the newspaper.
El Nuevo Herald also informed that "both officials have previously undergone military training courses in the United States, with approval of the US Department of Defense."
The two terrorist suspects were sent to the Krome detention center in Miami, but Varela was later transferred to the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility in New Jersey, due to lack of space.
The public prosecutor in charge of the case, Danilo Anderson, said that one of the elements taken into account by the Attorney General’s office was the testimony given last November by Silvio Daniel Merida, who was one of the accused rebel officer’s bodyguards, describing in detail all the planning of the attacks to the diplomatic buildings and pointing the finger to the three officers. Merida described how the bombs were detonated via cell phone by Colina and Varela.
"They are desperate"
The asylum petition by terror suspects are “an example of desperation by the most radical sectors of the opposition” according to National Assembly deputy Luis Tascon.
"Rats are the first that abandon the ship, and that opposition ship has been leaking water for a while", said Tascon. "They are requesting asylum because they know the a new defeat for the opposition is imminent. They know they did not collect enough signatures to request a recall referendum against President Chavez," added the lawmaker.
Tascon expressed his hopes that "the government of the United States complies with the international anti-terrorism treaties, because these subjects are accused of terrorism.
Earlier this month, fugitive Venezuelan opposition leader Carlos Fernandez also filed for political asylum in the US. Fernandez was one of the leaders of the three-month sabotage of the oil industry and a lock-out of hundreds of businesses between December of 2002 and February of 2003.
Anti-Chavez opposition sponsored violence
In early November, Venezuela’s scientific police seized several arsenals of weapons that presumably were going to be used by opposition militants during the upcoming petition drives to recall several public officials, including President Chavez.
Late November, a prominent opposition group made a public call to civil disobedience and to overthrow the government.
Prominent opposition leaders were recently caught on tape planning destabilizing actions and describing their desire to impose up to 15 years of dictatorship when President Chavez is overthrown.