Strategy in Venezuela Backfires...
Rangel to the Rescue
Rangel Takes the Cell Phone and the Military Command
Narco News 2001
President Hugo Chávez Names:
José Vicente Rangel's First Task:
the Paramilitaries Before they Start
Narco News Commentary: Even as the new administration of US President
George W. Bush repeated in public that it had no plans to destabilize
Venezuela's democratically elected government, behind the scenes
a more nefarious strategy was already underway.
The wealthy land owners and cattle ranchers
of Venezuelan regions near the Colombian border were allying
themselves with Colombia paramilitary chief and narco-trafficker
Carlos Castaño to destabilize the Chávez government
The paramilitary strategy, straight from
Pentagon manuals, has been used by Washington in Colombia, El
Salvador, Mexico and other countries as a potent subversive force
to do the dirty work for official military forces that are constrained
by law. In neighboring Colombia, Castaño's paramilitaries
have committed near-daily massacres of unarmed civilians in a
terror campaign protected by the Colombian military command with
support of the $1.3 billion dollar, US-imposed, Plan Colombia.
Venezuela's popular and democratically
elected President Hugo Chávez, because of his sparkplug
role in reawakening Bolívar's dream of a Latin América
united against foreign impositions, his opposition to Plan Colombia,
and the vast oil resources that make Venezuela an economic power,
has presented problems for the interventionists in Washington
who speak of democracy but work to prohibit it throughout the
"Para-journalists" -- the mercenaries
of the Fourth Estate -- like Larry Rohter of the New York Times
have consistently attempted to discredit Chávez, often
citing his military roots, as if to imply that his democratic
government flirts with military rule.
The events of recent days reveal how foolish
and inaccurate Rohter and some others have been throughout their
reporting of the events in Venezuela. (Interestingly, the US
journalist who has offered the most profound analysis of the
Chávez phenomenon was not any liberal or lefist, but the
Justin Raimundo, who thoroughly researched Chávez's history
and writings and concludes that his critics are the ones
blowing hot air.)
First, came the revelation, last Wednesday,
that the wealthy cattle ranchers of the Venezuelan border region
with Colombia are forming armed paramilitary units to "combat
the Colombian guerrilla."
Chávez, as a career military officer
and statesman, knows well that paramilitary groups can only conduct
their terrorism with covert support and protection from official
military forces: that has been the history of paramilitary squads
from Colombia to Chiapas.
And so the very next day, on the Second
Anniversary of his first election as president, during a military
parade, Chávez, in one fell swoop, gave his country a
fighting chance to stop the paramilitaries before they start,
and revealed his critics to be wrong.
Chávez appointed a civilian statesman
-- a journalist -- as Defense Secretary. And José Vicente
Rangel announced that his first task will be to address the ranch
owners along the Colombian border and solve the paramilitary
problem before it turns into, in his words, "a Frankenstein."
Rangel will oversee operations of the Armed Forces to protect
that region and keep a strong eye on the lookout for paramilitary
or corrupt military activity. Nobody questions Rangel's intelligence
nor commitment to prevent the Colombianization of his nation.
Now, as if to add icing to the cake in
the face of the anti-Chávez lobby, comes the corrupt,
disgraced and impeached ex-president of Venezuela, Carlos Andrés
of $250 million dollars precisely from the country's Defense
Department, and long term Bush
family operative), screeching that Chávez's appointment of
a civilian to the Defense Ministry will provoke a military coup.
Even this, so far, has been a bit too much for the corrupted
Rohters and others like him of the press world to report in English:
it sounds too much like their own rhetoric, but more revealing
of their true agenda.
And so, once again, Chávez has
confounded and foiled his critics, and launched the first project
in South América to stop the paramilitary menace in its
Here are some translations of this past
week's stories from Latin América about the news from
Simón Bolívar's Venezuela.
From somewhere in a country called América,
The Narco News Bulletin
From the daily El Tiempo
Bogotá, Colombia, Thursday, February 1, 2001
ARE ARMING OURSELVES TO CONFRONT THE GUERRILLA'
By MARIA VICTORIA CRISTANCHO
Correspondent of EL TIEMPO
CARACAS, Venezuela: The Venezuelan ranchers
have begun to create their own armed self-defense mechanisms
to confront the Colombian guerrilla, due to what they say is
the abandonment by the Venezuelan state in the border zone with
"We are arming because we can not
allow that the guerrilla destroys us, while the Venezuelan state
does nothing," said the agribusiness leader and producer
Otto Ramírez, who yesterday participated in an emergency
assembly organized by the Rancher's Federation of Venezuela (Fedenagas,
in its Spanish acronym) in the Andean city of Mérida,
one of the regions affected by the activities of supposed guerrilla
representatives, who recently made themselves "peace judges"
to defend the Venezuelan plantations from invasion in exchange
for payment in cows.
The so-called "protection groups"
of the Venezuelan ranchers are prepared and ready to confront
and combat the subversive organizations of the neighboring country.
"It's no lie that they exist and
are already in process. I believe that we are going to obtain
good results soon and we would like President Chávez to
join our movement. We cannot permit that our country becomes
a second Colombia due to a vacuum of power. I advise you that
in the entire country there is an agreement and a coordination
in the fight," said the agricultural producer, who has been
one of the victims of attack by supposed Colombian guerrillas
against Venezuelan agricultural producers.
According to Ramírez, the Venezuelan
self-defense groups, "will impose a new way of living"
in the border zone, where there are an average of 40 kidnappings
each year of plantation owners, and other pay to avoid being
The Venezuelan foreign minister José
Vicente Rangel warned that these kinds of groups, far from solving
the problem of insecurity at the border, could become a "Frankenstein"
like what happened in Colombia.
The Venezuelan Ranchers Federation threatened
yesterday to launch an national strike if the government doesn't
resolve the situation of insecurity that the landowners of the
border live, victims of the incursions of Colombian subversive
February 2, 2001
From the EFE Press Agency
The Surprise Nomination
of Venezuelan Foreign Minister José Rangel as new Defense
The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez,
today designated, for the first time in the history of his country,
a civilian, the prime minister José Vicente Rangel, as
minister of defense.
Upon reaching two years in power, Chávez
announced two changes in his cabinet, among them the nomination
of his principal political supporter, foreign minister Rangel,
as the new secretary of defense
For President Chávez, this first
designation of a civilian to a post traditionally occupied by
military officers signifies the beginning of "the union
between the National Armed Forces and the people," which
he repeatedly referred to as "the true strength of the Nation."
Chávez made his announcement during
the military parade, on a central avenue of Caracas, announcing
the changes, although the most attention went to that of Rangel,
a journalist, ex-guerrilla and veteran member of the Left.
In his first statements as the new Defense
Minister, Rangel told journalists that his status as civilian
"will not be received badly" by career military officers,
because the ranking officer of the National Armed Forces had
already been consulted on his nomination.
He added that just as "military officers
occupy civil posts" he doesn't see why "civilians can't
occupy military posts."
And from the AFP (French
Press Agency) report of February 2:
The president assured that with
Rangel in charge of the Defense Department the civilian-military
alliance will move forward, "it is the principal strength
of the peaceful and democratic revolution" in the country.
The colorful Defense Secretary had underscored just minutes before
his nomination that the naming of a civilian to this post "is
normal in a process of change"
In his first statements as Defense Minister,
Rangel said that his first priorities will be to define the situation
of the Venezuelan ranchers in the border region and the modernization
of the Armed Forces of the country.
"I'm going to meet right away with
the ranchers in the country to discuss what is happening at the
border. This is a priority with the modernization of the Armed
Forces," said Rangel to journalists after his new designation.
Rangel, a journalist and passionate defender of human rights,
is one of the civilians with the most weight in the government
The internationalist Eira Ramos told AFP
that one of the interpretations that could be made is that this
designation "could be a decision by the Chávez government
to definitively support the Colombian guerrilla, because the
statements have been very oriented in this direction. Rangel
is a man of the Left. He has not ruled out direct contact with
the Colombian guerrilla.
Rangel is also close to Cuba, to the Cuban
revolution, and I believe that the change in foreign minister
doesn't imply any drastic reorientation of foreign policy. To
the contrary, there will be more efforts to get closer to Cuba."
Still, in Colombia the news was received
by official and opposition congressmen as "positive"
and they said that a new era "of good will and not so militarist"
in bilateral relations will be opened.
from the point of view of the new
Republican administration of US President George W. Bush, Rangel
himself revealed on Thursday that "there is a series of
indications and signals for an excellent relation with the Bush
administration," and denied comments that the White House
could harden its stance toward Caracas.
of José Vicente Rangel
From Venezuelan State Department
RANGEL, JOSÉ VICENTE. Lawyer, journalist and politician.
Regarded as one of the best opinion journalists in the country.
Born in Caracas on July 10th, 1929 to
José Vicente Rangel Cárdenas and Leonor Vale. Attended
primary and secondary school at La Salle School (Lara State).
In 1946 moved to the city of Mérida, to study Law at the
University of the Andes. The same year returned to Caracas, to
continue his law studies at the Central University of Venezuela.
From then on, he became an active member of the Democratic Republican
Union party (URD), where he reached the office of Youth Leader.
On the wake of President´s Rómulo
Gallegos downfall, in november 1948, he joined the underground
resistance to the dictatorship. In 1950 traveled to Chile, where
he met Ana Ávalos, a sculpturer, whom he was later to
marry. She is the mother of his only two children. In Chile,
Rangel resumed law studies, which he then finished in Spain,
at the University of Santiago de Compostela.
Back in Venezuela, in 1956, he rejoined
the struggle against the dictatorship of General Marcos Pérez
Jiménez. This led to his arrest and subsecuent expulsion
from the country. Once the dictatorial regime was deposed, he
returned to Venezuela and retook political life. The same year,
he was designated as member of the Federal District´s Municipal
Council, and simultaneously became one of the top national leaders
of his URD party. At the general elections of december 1958,
he was elected to Congress as a Deputy for his party, a post
which he retained in the next four elections.
Since the 1960´s, he has been steadily
active in political journalism, working as host on television
programs, as well as producer for short radio broadcasts (micros),
and columnist in newspapers like El Universal, Panorama and El
Nacional, among others, and magazines like Bohemia and Elite.
Between 1960 and 1967, he was editor-in-chief of the weekly Qué
Pasa en Venezuela and the daylies La Razón and El Clarín.
In the general elections of 1973, 1978 and 1983, he was presidential
candidate, backed by the country´s main three parties of
the Left, including Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), which was
then larger than the Communist Party and today is part of the
coalition that supports President Hugo Chávez.
His journalistic efforts have been twice
rewarded with the National Journalism Award. He is the author
of several books and numerous essays. On february 2nd, 1999,
President Hugo Chávez appointed him Minister of Foreign
Gallop of Bolívar's Horse