Venezuela’s Defense Minister says Accusations of Alliances with Guerrillas are “Hoaxes”

Venezuelan Defense Minister, General Jorge Garcia Carneiro, refuted allegations made by El Nuevo Herald of Miami, pointing to a presumed alliance between the government of Venezuela and Colombian guerrillas

President Hugo Chavez (center) watches a military parade accompanied by the new Defense Minister General Jorge Garcia Carneiro (left), and Army Commander Raul Baduel (right), on January 16, 2004.
Photo: Venpres

Caracas, Venezuela. Jan 20, 2004 ( Venezuela’s newly appointed Defense Minister, General Jorge Garcia Carneiro, refuted allegations made by exiled Venezuelan journalist Casto Ocando in an article published by El Nuevo Herald of Miami, pointing to a presumed alliance between the government of Venezuela and some Colombian guerrilla groups.

The Herald allegations were echoed by a retired military officer, member of the Institutional Military Front (FIM), a group made of retired military officers who oppose the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and which is believed to be involved in the coup d’etat against Venezuela’s Democracy in April of 2002.

“These are just hoaxes that seek to discredit our country,” said General Garcia Carneiro, asserting that those who attack Venezuela’s democracy and seek to destabilize, are “the same frustrated individuals who weren’t able to come to power through a coup d’etat against President Chavez.”

On Monday, during his swearing-in ceremony, Minister Carneiro promised to defend democracy and crush any coup attempts against President Hugo Chavez. “We will not allow disobedience in the Armed Forces… we don’t want any more treason against the people of Venezuela,” said the Minsiter.

The Jan 17th issue of El Nuevo Herald cited “secret documents” and testimonies by “several ex-military officers” as proof that after battles between the Venezuelan military and several Colombian guerrilla bases found in Venezuelan territory at the end of the 2000 and during 2001, President Chavez was informed about the incidents and did nothing to drive the insurgents away from Venezuelan territory.

Shaky Credibility

The behavior of military officers who oppose the government of President Hugo Chavez affect the credibility of these alleged testimonies. Several officers have been discharged from the military due to their role in the coup d’etat of 2002 against President Chavez. Some other officers believed to be involved in the coup, have remained inside the armed forces due to lack of evidence of their participation.
Late in 2002, a group of rebel military officers who openly oppose the Chavez administration, set up a protest camp at the Francia Square in the affluent eastern Caracas neighborhood of Altamira, to give anti-government speeches and make calls to overthrow the President. Two of these rebels German Rodolfo Varela and Jose Antonio Colina are being sought by authorities in connection with the terrorist attacks on the Embassy of Spain and the Consulate of Colombia in Caracas, on February 26, 2003. Varela and Colina are seeking political asylum in the United States. Several others have also eluded authorities and escaped to other countries.

Recently a US judge dismissed a lawsuit accusing the Venezuelan govenrment of providing money to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center of New York City. The lawsuit was based on the testimony of a pilot who deserted the Venezuelan Air Force and asked for political asylum in Miami. The pilot, Ramon Diaz, failed to provide evidences or further testimonies to US authorities.

Making false allegations against the Chavez administration to foreign governments hoping to destabilize it or to discredit it, seems like the only option left for those who seek to oust President Chavez, but who cannot find significant support inside the Venezuelan Armed Forces for another coup.

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