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News ::
US Story On Venezuela Continues to Fall Apart
24 Apr 2002
Now how does that line go? "When first we practice to deceive, oh what a tangled web we do weave." Well, something like that anyway. Let’s see the US was not involved in any way in the coup in Venezuela. That is the line of the Bush Administration, if I remember correctly. Hmmm.

It was President Bush, I believe, who appointed over the opposition even of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Otto Reich to be assistant secretary at the Department of State for the Western Hemisphere. Of course, Reich has a murky history of covert meddling in Latin American politics and he was once the ambassador to Venezuela.

In the Pentagon, the man with responsibility for Latin America is Rogelio Pardo-Maurer, who was the aide to the head of the Contras when they were waging their US-backed war against the elected Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Two of the Venezuelan military who supported the coup, General Efrain Vasquez and General Eddie Ramirez Poveda, are graduates of the US Army School of the Americas in Georgia, where many members of the Latin American military have been trained in how to deal with troublesome lefties.

The tycoon who led the media onslaught that preceded the coup and whose television station announced it is Gustavo Cisneros, an old fishing pal of Bush senior.

It also appears that several of the coup’s leaders now reside, where else, but Miami, of course. They include Isaac Pérez Recao, 32, a reputed arms-dealer and heir to a Venezuelan oil fortune. With a group of armed bodyguards, Señor Pérez Recao played a highly visible role in the April 12-13 coup, according to reports in Caracas. They have not returned telephone calls from the media which have been made to their $500,000 beachfront flat in Key Biscayne, a wealthy island suburb of Miami. Under US law, the Secretary of State has the power to deny entry visas or revoke their issuance to persons deemed to have "potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States". This power has been used in recent cases against Haitian military officers and civilians alleged to have been involved in plotting a coup. It was also applied to President Chávez after he led an unsuccessful coup attempt in 1992. "They should be taking the same position with these people as they did with us," Lieutenant- Colonel Wilmer Castro, a former air force officer who helped to restore Pres. Chávez to power, said. US officials declined to discuss the involvement of Pérez Recao, saying that they are still investigating what went on during the coup.

And although "not involved," the Pentagon acknowledged on Tuesday that it is looking into what its representatives in Venezuela did during a short-lived coup. "We're informally gathering details of what occurred in Venezuela," Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Commander Jeff Davis said. "The facts are clear, but events on the ground occurred very rapidly so we want to make sure we have all the details."

And because the US was absolutely "not involved" the U.S. Embassy in Caracas has denied as ''ridiculous'' and ''absolutely untrue'' the allegations made by Roger Rondon, National Assembly deputy from the Movement Towards Socialism party. In statements at a news conference and to local radio, Rondon yesterday said two U.S. military officers attached to the embassy, whose surnames he gave as Rogers and MacCammon, had been present at Fuerte Tiuna military headquarters with the leaders of the coup during the night of April 11 and 12. The U.S. Embassy spokesman said there were no U.S. military personnel from the embassy at Fuerte Tiuna military headquarters from 5.30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, until approximately 2:15 p.m. Saturday, April 13 as alleged by some. However, he did say that two members of the embassy's defense attache's office, one a Lt. Col. James Rogers, drove in a jeep around Fuerte Tiuna Thursday afternoon to check reports that the base was closed. Just out for a spin. Rondon also accused U.S. Ambassador Charles Shapiro of involvement in the coup, saying he had met with businessman Pedro Carmona, the interim president who briefly replaced Chavez, at the Miraflores presidential palace April 12. ''That is absolutely untrue,'' said a U.S. Embassy spokesman. By the way, the U.S. ambassador has acknowledged that he met with Carmona April 12 during the coup days. Rondon told reporters that two foreign gunmen, one American and the other Salvadoran, were detained by security police during a huge anti-Chavez protest march April 11 in which 17 people, most of them it appears pro-Chavez demonstrators were killed, many of them by unidentified snipers firing from rooftops. ''They haven't appeared anywhere. They were handed over to the (political police). We presume these two gentlemen were given some kind of safe-conduct and could have left the country,'' Rondon told Radio Nacional.
Sources: Guardian, Xinhua, Reuters, Times of London

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