A key witness in the trial of those charged over the assassination of Venezuelan state prosecutor Danilo Anderson has identified FBI and CIA agents as being involved in planning his death.
Green-Left Weekly (Australia)

Anderson, who was killed by a car bomb on November 18 last year, was leading the investigation into the participants of the April 2002 military coup that briefly overthrew the democratically elected left-wing President Hugo Chavez.

The US government, angered by Chavez’s attacks on US foreign policies and his measures that benefit the poor rather than corporate interests, openly supported the coup, and the US ambassador at the time, Charles Sharpiro, was seen hugging Pedro Carmona, the head of Venezuela’s main chamber of commerce, who was installed as dictator before being forced out by a popular uprising two days later. Anderson was investigating all the individuals who signed the infamous “Carmona decree” that dissolved the constitution, the National Assembly, the Supreme Court and a series of pro-poor laws — a list of more than 400 people, including many powerful figures in industry and politics.

According to a November 9 Venezuelanalysis.com report, the attorney-general’s office, speaking on behalf of the witness, claimed that those involved in planning the assassination “all discussed the plan with the help of the FBI and CIA”. The witness, Giovani Jose Vasquez De Armas, is a member of the right-wing paramilitary group, the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC). Venezuelanalaysis.com reports that he alleges that in Panama on September 4 and 6, 2003, “an FBI Officer called Pesquera and a CIA agent called Morrinso’, attended a meeting along with two of the plot’s alleged organisers, Patricia Poleo and Salvador Romani, as well as two of those who actually did the killing, Rolando and Otoniel Guevera”.

Vasquez De Armas claims that the US agents and the Venezuelan plotters agreed to “take out Chavez and the government”, and that “the meeting’s final objective was to kill President Chavez and the attorney-general”. Vasquez De Armas claims that at a subsequent meeting inside Venezuela on March 3 and 4, 2004, the plotters changed their objectives and decided to target Anderson instead.

Vasquez De Armas also claims that he was sent by the UAC to assist with the plot. He and his family are currently under a witness protection program and are unable to appear in public.

According to Venezuelanalysis.com, three Venezuelans from the same family — Rolando, Otoniel and Juan Batista Guevera — were arrested shortly after the murder for planting and detonating the bomb that killed Anderson. In recent weeks, fresh arrests have been made in the Anderson case, with retired general Eugenio Anez Nunez and Romano taken into custody.

Nelson Mezerhane, director and part-owner of the opposition TV station Globovision, was also charged and handed himself in on November 14. Globovision, like almost all the privately owned media in Venezuela, has run a constant campaign against Chavez. Along with the other main private TV stations, it formed part of the coup plot by deliberately distorting footage to make it appear as though Chavez supporters were repressing opposition demonstrators. This was used as the justification for the military coup.

However, Poleo, a leading opposition journalist and editor of the anti-Chavez tabloid El Nuevo Pais, was also issued with an arrest warrant, but remains in hiding. Poleo is known for advocating “direct action” to remove Chavez from power.

VHeadline.com reported on November 21 that the president of the National Assembly, Nicolas Maduro, had accused Mezerhane of attempting to bribe a judge in the Anderson murder trial. The attorney-general’s office is investigating the claim.

This year the Venezuelan government has repeatedly accused the US government of plotting to kill Chavez, insisting it has evidence of such a plot. The US, which has made repeated verbal attacks on Chavez, has denied the accusation. However, if the evidence provided by Vasquez De Armas is correct, then it reveals that as early as 2003 the US was actively engaged in a plot to carry out terrorist attacks inside Venezuela with the aim of destabilising and bringing down the government, including potentially the assassination of Chavez himself.

Given the US’s history of plotting against governments around the world that it sees as a threat to its interests, such a scenario would come as no surprise.