Yet more chavista thugs

Ramón Rodríguez Chacín

Yesterday we started out on a little tour through the swamps of chavista criminality. First up was Hugo Carvajal, a longtime pal of Hugo Chávez who served as his main conduits to the FARC terrorist group, with which the Bolivarian regime enjoyed very friendly relations.

Deserving of mention alongside Carvajal is Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, who held two cabinet positions under Chávez, served as his intelligence chief, and is now governor of the state of Guarico. Although he co-founded the Comando Específico José Antonio Páez (CEJAP), an elite force purportedly established to quell FARC and another Colombian guerilla group, ELN, he (along with Carvajal) acted as the top middleman between Chávez and FARC, with whose leaders he has close friendly relations. One source described him in 2009 as having been “Chávez’s personal liaison to the senior FARC leadership since 1994, when Chávez and Rodríguez Chacín met in Colombia with several members of the FARC’s directorate to forge a political alliance.” The U.S. has called Rodríguez Chacín FARC’s “main weapons contact” in the Venezuelan government, and has even said that he tried at one point to arrange a quarter-billion-dollar loan to the terrorist group. Between 2002 and 2007, he “traveled frequently under at least four false identities (but with legal Venezuelan passports and identity documents) to countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Mexico.”

With Maduro

There’s more. Rodríguez Chacín helped Chávez plot “Operation Knockout,” a plan “to instigate a coup attempt against his government in order to justify declaring martial law and crushing his political opponents.” In the 1980s, he played key roles in a cold-blooded operation in which 42 people were killed and in the brutal massacre of fourteen fisherman in the town of El Amparo. As of 2009, he was “believed to be the military commander of the Bolivarian Liberation Front (FBL), a nominally all-Venezuelan Marxist guerrilla (militant) group which operates in Border States like Apure, Barinas and the Andes region.”

José Vicente Rangel

Then there’s José Vicente Rangel Vale, a sometime journalist who went on to hold two cabinet positions under Chávez before becoming his Vice President. Not only was he a good pal of the caudillo; he’s also a fan of the Cuban Revolution, and back in the day encouraged friendly relations with Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi.

A few random items from his CV. With Chávez, he hatched plans to – among other things – kidnap a union boss, assassinate opposition leaders, and “organize fake terrorist attacks.” He was behind the 2004 car-bomb explosion that killed public prosecutor Danilo Baltasar Anderson, who’d threatened to expose Rangel’s involvement in an extortion network.

rangel3Once, when riots were taking place in Caracas, a reporter who’d just witnessed them – and was still coughing from the tear gas – was told flatly by Rangel that there were no riots. “That, dear reader,” wrote journalist Francisco Toro after Rangel’s departure from the Vice Presidency, “was José Vicente Rangel. That was his modus operandi: untrammeled contempt for his former profession, barely concealed delight at the way power allowed him to piss all over the truth, to flaunt his ability to lie and lie again, ever more outrageously, without anyone being able to hold him to account for it.”

In recent years, Rangel has been active as a TV and print journalist – or, more accurately, as a vigorous promoter and propagandist for the Maduro regime. On July 10, he turned 87. Maduro tweeted his congratulations, thanking Rangel for his loyalty “to the People, to Chávez, and to the Socialist Revolution.”


Those chavista stooges

Back in May, we took a little stroll through a rogues’ gallery of Venezuelan bolifuncionarios. We covered quite a bit of territory, but we’ve felt guilty ever since for having omitted some pretty important names. This was unfair of us: the guys we overlooked are, after all, among the scummiest of chavistas, and are more than deserving of a nod of recognition.

Hugo Carvajal in Aruba

Take Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, who last year was sent by President Nicolás Maduro to the Dutch island of Aruba to serve as Venezuelan consul general there. On July 22, he was arrested on a U.S. warrant.

Why the arrest? The previous year, Carvajal had been indicted in Florida on conspiracy to traffic cocaine. But this was only a relatively minor item on his long and colorful rap sheet. As head of DGIM, Venezuela’s military intelligence agency, under Chávez, Carvajal oversaw a broad range of atrocities. He took money for providing weapons, shelter, and logistical support to terrorists and drug traffickers belonging to FARC, the Colombian rebel group. He took money from another drug cartel that supplied most of America’s cocaine. He carried out “witch hunts” in the Venezuelan armed forces, torturing members of the military who were suspected of disloyalty to the regime. He ordered the torture and murder of a DEA informant. He ordered the torture and murder of a Colombian army captain and corporal who’d entered Venezuelan territory in search of FARC guerillas. Along with other top Chávez officials, he had his hand in several assassinations. The news website Infobae has called him “the symbol of chavista corruption.”

Carvajal with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

While Carvajal was at DGIM, Henry Rangel Silva, who is now governor of the state of Trujillo, was head of DISIP, the national intelligence agency, the two men collaborated with FARC and ELN on drug smuggling, extortion, and kidnapping operations. “Protecting drug trans-shipments,” stated one 2009 source,

is one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises in which Carvajal and Rangel Silva are involved….Carvajal and Rangel Silva reportedly charge the FARC and other Colombian drug traffickers about $1,500 per kilo to protect drug shipments transiting through Venezuelan territory by land, air or water….in 2007 the roughly 189 metric tons of FARC-owned cocaine which transited through Venezuela represented potential profits of up to $283.5 million for the organized crime gangs run by Carvajal at DGIM and Rangel Silva at DISIP – assuming all of this cocaine received official protection, which is not necessarily the case.

As for kidnapping, hoods working for Carvajal and Rangel Silva provided “protection and surveillance services” for FARC and ELN, sold them “financial intelligence on potential abduction targets,” and in some cases took part personally in abductions and contract murders. Of the 537 reported kidnappings in Venezuela in 2008, the FARC and ELN were believed to be responsible for about 75%, for a potential profit of as much as $450 million.

Alas, Carvajal didn’t end up in an American court of justice. Under pressure from the Venezuelan government, he was released only six days after his arrest on grounds of diplomatic immunity. The Netherlands did, however, declare him persona non grata on Dutch territory, and flew him back to Venezuela.

More tomorrow.