On July 12, agents of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service raided the Caracas home of Venezuela opposition figure Alejandro Peña Esclusa. According Pena’s wife, Indira de Peña, the intelligence operatives blatantly planted evidence including explosives about the apartment and hauled her husband off to jail on treason and terror charges.
The justification for Pena’s arrest is an alleged connection to a shadowy Salvadoran with a criminal past. The Venezuelan’s say Francisco Chavez Abarca attempted to enter Venezuela on a false passport with the intent of violently disrupting the September 26 legislative elections. The Venezuelans claim Abarca is a long-time associate of anti-Castro Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles, who stands accused of acts of terror against the Castro regime. After incriminating Peña and other Venezuelan opposition figures, the Venezuelan government conveniently shipped Abarca off to Havana for further interrogation by Cuban intelligence and a future date with a Cuban show trial.
In addition to being active in Venezuelan politics, Peña has been a driving force behind UNO America , a conservative-minded action group that sought to awaken Latin America to increasing danger to freedom, prosperity and security posed by the spread of Chavez’s aggressive brand of revolutionary socialism.
On a separate front, Chavez ramped up the confrontation with senior Catholic clergy in Venezuela. He demanded a review of relations with the Vatican following Cardinal Jorge Urosa’s criticisms of gross Chavista mismanagement in the food industry and warnings about Chavez’s authoritarian tendencies. Urosa recently stated Chavez “want[s] to lead the country on the path toward Marxist Socialism, which…leads to a dictatorship.”
Chavez also claims that Dutch military aircraft violated Venezuelan airspace, boasting of recently acquired Russian air capabilities. Chavez’s aim is to pressure the Dutch government to revoke its cooperation agreements with the U.S. that allows forward basing of U.S. anti-drug flights in the Caribbean from the island of Curacao. Before an audience of adoring left-wing philosophes, Chavez demanded a Caribbean free of the vestiges of colonialism with calls for independence for the Dutch Antilles, France’s Martinique, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Chavez is feeling the heat of international and domestic criticism on a wide front and is reacting in predictable fashion: flailing out at the opposition, ordering arrests, closing media outlets, insulting the Catholic Church, and relying on a pyrotechnic display of nationalism to tide him through to a massive electoral victory. At home, Chavez encourages a growing climate of “legalized” terror just as abroad he pursues a radical, pro-terror policy.