Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Operation Red Dawn in Venezuela
One version of what really happened last Sunday

Wednesday 12, May 2004

I had no idea that I would have to break my oath earlier today that fast. But this is new worthy material.

Marianella Salazar is a journalist with a long distinguished, if controversial, career. She writes for El Nacional and has made through the Chavez years a virtue of frivolity as a weapon of resistance to the vulgarity that besieges us everyday. She is actually rather well informed, in particular on military matters having scored a few hits such as the FARC traffic through the Colombo-Venezuelan border. Her column today offers a fascinating interpretation of the events of last Sunday. Whether it is true, it makes required reading. And it also will make more of a target for a chavismo going berserk.

Operation Red Dawn

Jose Vicente Rangel broke his legendary poise and showed himself decomposed in front of the cameras, -a theater of operations that he usually handles well- when Operation Red Dawn, mounted with months of anticipation in the Situational Room was exposed before the national and international public opinion like a piece of buffoonery, a weird police-military operation with many loose ends. For a long time the government has been unsuccessfully making up coups and riots that would allow it to appear like a victim before the international community, to persecute decidedly the opposition, to end the Recall Election and to complete the purge initiated within the Armed Forces.

The alleged paramilitary that arrived to assault a military barrack and to attempt against the president of Venezuela are a badly told story. Not even at the time of the war against the Castro-Communist guerrilla of the Sixties, the Armed Forces had the opportunity to face an enemy with the power and quality of the opponent arrested this past May 9. Never was there a organization, an assembly and a strength in an enemy so abundant, preceded of so ferocious a battle experience, as the United Self Defense of Colombia (AUC).

Then, why the absence of the Army since it is the component most suitable of the National Armed Forces (FAN)to fight terrorists, and instead, the responsibility of that operation was unloaded on the CICPC (FBI like), commandos of the Disip (National Police) and Detachment 51 of the National Guard (GN), who by the way, was quartered this Saturday waiting for a military action at dawn.

The innocents

The Colombian citizens, disarmed, uniformed with "camouflage fatigues" of the Venezuelan Army and stopped by the Metropolitan Police and the one of El Hatillo, are humble and innocent farmers recruited in Cucuta, who under promise of payment and an ID card came with the illusion of improving their lot in life. Our military sources indicate as the people likely in charge military double agents -identified in my column of 02/11/04 as infiltrated agents who encouraged within the FAN a coup d'etat for that Friday 13 of February- who in complicity with the national security corps, brought the farmers on false pretense and provided them uniforms to attend, dressed like reservists, a supposed act of masses in which president Chavez would participate.

Under that deceit they would take them to get a Venezuelan ID to Detachment 51 of El Paraiso. But the scheme underwent an unexpected change from the operational people in charge - the minister of the Defense, the commander of the GN and the director of the Disip- when the driver of one of the buses hired (not highjacked) called by a cell phone his wife, to alert the her that he feared a kidnapping. She was the one who called the Metropolitan Police, who, jointly with the police of El Hatillo intercepted them and gave them to the Disip. That explains that the tame paramilitary, with scared faces, did not react with violence or rebelled. According to the sources, the Colombian citizens were saved of being massacred in Detachment 51 of the GN, where "Red Dawn" was programmed.

Governmental Charade

The incoherence in the paramilitary plot is striking successive and evident blows to logic. The entrance of the alleged militias to Venezuelan territory is a filigree operation, difficult to hide from the organisms of security of the state, without the provision of internal complicity. Then there is the transfer to the final locale (Hacienda Daktari, in the municipality of El Hatillo), that judging by the information of the day was made as an afterthought and without security previsions.

With this Opera Buffa the case of Fort Mara dead soldiers, the planting of private Barroso, the drowned soldier of Socuavo, the Zambrano case, the human rights violations, the elections in the Central University of Venezuela, the Rematazo, the Recall Election, the North American diplomatic offensive, the military judgments to the journalists, the political persecution against mayors and governors, and the generalized repression drop to a discreet background. But, luckily, the truth, that cannot be avoided usually prevails over the camouflages. And it will pop out.

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