Venezuela Replaces Decades-Old Intelligence Institutions

The Venezuelan Minister of Justice and the Interior, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, announced Wednesday that the two former intelligence agencies will be eliminated and replaced by new state intelligence organisms that will operate under a new Law on Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence.
Interior and Justice Minister Ramón Rodríguez Chacín also inaugurated a pilot project of the National Plan for Crime Prevention Wednesday in which local residents will be protagonists in team with government entities. (ABN)

Mérida, May 29, 2008 (– The Venezuelan Minister of Justice and the Interior, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, announced Wednesday that the Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP) and Military Intelligence Division (DIM) of the federal government will be eliminated and replaced by new state intelligence organisms that will operate under the new Law on Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence passed by presidential decree on Wednesday.

President Chavez passed the law-decree under the 18-month enabling law authority he received from the National Assembly in early 2007.

The new intelligence policies portray “how these organisms should act and how Venezuela of the 21st century, as threatened as it is, now has the tools and the capacity to produce all of the intelligence and counterintelligence in order to make the strategic decisions of the State,” the minister declared at an event in Petare, the largest barrio in Venezuela’s capital city.

The creation of new intelligence organizations responds to the urgent need to confront interference by the United States in the internal affairs of Venezuela, Rodriguez Chacín explained.

The minister also highlighted that deconstructing intelligence institutions is complicated and the process must be systematic. He said the DISIP and DIM would be gradually replaced by a General Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence ascribed to the Ministry of Justice and the Interior, and a General Director of Military Intelligence and Counterintelligence ascribed to the Defense Ministry.

To train and equip new intelligence officials and educate them about the Law on Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, a special University of Security will be created. Current intelligence personnel will be put through university training programs to assure “ideological commitment” and “academic formation” before being absorbed into new institutions, Rodriguez Chacín announced Thursday.

When asked about the character of the new institutions, Chacín responded, “basically, we are talking about secret organizations. If a functionary is working on intelligence, well nobody should know this.”

The text of the new law is not available to the public yet. The Bolivarian News Agency reports that the law contains 29 articles which outline the general dispositions and competencies of the institutions and their relationship to other institutions, define intelligence and counterintelligence, and review the activities, types of documents and things which will be subject to investigation by intelligence agencies, as well as the laws regarding confidentiality.

The eliminated DISIP and DIM had been created by presidential decree in 1969 with the purpose of, in the minister’s opinion, “obeying the capitalist vision that existed in that era.”

These institutions were notoriously repressive during their nearly four decades of existence. It was widely speculated that they coordinated directly with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and supported anti-Castro Cuban terrorists, such as Luis Posada Carriles, who is currently wanted by Cuba and Venezuela for the 1973 bombing of an airliner and is now living in the U.S.

Before Wednesday, intelligence agencies had not been regulated by federal intelligence law.

Local policing committee established

On Wednesday, Minister Chacín and the Petare community also inaugurated a “communal table”, which is a group of government and local community representatives who will carry out a pilot project of the National Plan for Communal Crime Prevention.

In order to be successful at preventing crime, neighborhood organization is “indispensable,” and local residents must be protagonists, the minister commented.

Communal tables will take an integral approach to crime prevention, which includes educational, health, infrastructure, and economic solutions. For this reason, Venezuela’s Culture Minister, Infrastructure Minister, Social Protection Minister, Communication and Information Minister, representatives from the federal health and education programs known as “missions,” and local government officials were present at the table Wednesday, along with the General Director of Crime Prevention.

The crime prevention plan is accompanied by the Caracas Security Plan, which has now entered its 22nd week and has deployed 2,000 newly equipped police officers in Caracas.

The Interior and Justice Ministry reported Thursday that in the three pilot project sites where crime prevention has been combined with strengthened police forces, crime has been reduced by 70%.

Minister Chacín boasted that no homicides were registered last Monday. “This is an important achievement, it could be a record; there were deaths by car accident and other causes, but not by homicide,” he told reporters.

Only three homicides were registered last Tuesday, which the minister said was a low figure. However, he said that celebrating this achievement is not meant to disrespect those who died, “because this is about human beings who have been excluded from the system, from the society.”