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The US / Colombia Plot Against Venezuela

by JAMES PETRAS Thursday, Jan. 27, 2005 at 10:16 AM

A major diplomatic and political conflict has exploded between Colombia and Venezuela after the revelation of a Colombian overnment covert operation in Venezuela, involving the recruitment of Venezuelan military and security officers in the kidnapping of a Colombian leftist leader.

~~~~~ At the end of this article is an announcement of

a city-wide planning meeting to mobilize to defend

Venezuela. U.S. intervention against Venezuela is

escalating. Please see the announcement at the end of

the Petras article and please attend the planning

meeting... don white CISPES-LA~~~~~~

January 25, 2005

The Granda Kidnapping Explodes

The US / Colombia Plot Against Venezuela


A major diplomatic and political conflict has exploded

between Colombia and Venezuela after the revelation of

a Colombian government covert operation in Venezuela,

involving the recruitment of Venezuelan military and

security officers in the kidnapping of a Colombian

leftist leader. Following an investigation by the

Venezuelan Ministry of Interior and reports and

testimony from journalists and other knowledgeable

political observers it was determined that the highest

echelons of the Colombian government, including

President Uribe, planned and executed this onslaught

on Venezuelan sovereignty.

Once direct Colombian involvement was established, the

Venezuelan government demanded a public apology from

the Colombian government while seeking a diplomatic

solution by blaming Colombian Presidential advisers.

The Colombian regime took the offensive, launching an

aggressive defense of its involvement in the violation

of Venezuelan sovereignty and, beyond that, seeking to

establish in advance, under the rationale of "national

security" the legitimacy of future acts of aggression.

As a result President Chavez has recalled the

Venezuelan Ambassador from Bogota, suspended all

state-to-state commercial and political agreements

pending an official state apology. In response the US

Government gave unconditional support to Colombian

violation of Venezuelan sovereignty and urged the

Uribe regime to push the conflict further. What began

as a diplomatic conflict over a specific incident has

turned into a major, defining crises in US and Latin

American political relations with potentially

explosive military, economic and political

consequences for the entire region.

In justifying the kidnapping of Rodrigo Granda, the

Colombian leftist leader, the Uribe regime has

promulgated a new foreign policy doctrine which echoes

that of the Bush Administration: the right of

unilateral intervention in any country in which the

Colombian government perceives or claims is harboring

or providing refuge to political adversaries (which

the regime labels as "terrorists") which might

threaten the security of the state. The Uribe doctrine

of unilateral intervention echoes the preventive war

speech, enunciated in late 2001 by President Bush.

Clearly Uribe's action and pronouncement is profoundly

influenced by the dominance that Washington exercises

over the Uribe regime's policies through its extended

billion dollar military aid program and deep

penetration of the entire political-defense apparatus.

Uribe's offensive military doctrine involves several

major policy propositions:

1.) The right to violate any country's sovereignty,

including the use of force and violence, directly or

in cooperation with local mercenaries.

2.) The right to recruit and subvert military and

security officials to serve the interests of the

Colombian state.

3.) The right to allocate funds to bounty hunters or

"third parties" to engage in illegal violent acts

within a target country.

4.) The assertion of the supremacy of Colombian laws,

decrees and policies over and against the sovereign

laws of the intervened country.

The Uribe doctrine clearly echoes Washington's global

pronouncements. While the immediate point of

aggression involves Colombia's relations to Venezuela,

the Uribe doctrine lays the basis for unilateral

military intervention anywhere in the hemisphere.

Uribe's doctrine is a threat to sovereignty of any

country in the hemisphere: its intervention in

Venezuela and the justification provides a precedent

for future aggression.

Colombia's adoption and implementation of the

extraterritorial policy as part of its strategy of

unilateral intervention is not coincidental, as the

Colombian security forces have been trained and

advised by US and Israeli secret agencies. More

directly, through its billion dollar military aid

program Washington is in a command-and-control

position within all sectors of the Colombian state and

thus able to determine the security doctrine of the

Uribe regime. More important Uribe has been a

long-time, large-scale practitioner of death squad

politics prior to his ascendancy to the Presidency and

prior to receiving large scale US aid. By borrowing

the Bush Doctrine from his patron-state, Uribe has

internationalized the terror practices which he has

pursued for the past 20 years within Colombia.

Prior to the recent spate of high profile trans-border

kidnapping (Trinidad in Ecuador, Granda in Venezuela),

the Uribe regime has engaged in frequent

interventions, kidnapping and assassinating popular

leaders and soldiers from bordering countries, and

providing material and political support to would-be

'golpistas', especially in Venezuela. Dozens of

Colombian refugees fleeing marauding death squads have

been pursued into Venezuela and killed or kidnapped

over the past three years by Colombian paramilitary

and security forces. Six Venezuelan soldiers were

killed by Colombian security forces in an

"unexplained" incident. More recently, in 2004, over

130 Colombian paramilitary forces and other irregulars

were infiltrated into Venezuela to engage in terrorist

violence ­ to trigger action by Venezuelan-US

coup-makers. Shortly thereafter Colombian security

forces and the US CIA intervened in Ecuador to kidnap

a former peace negotiator of the FARC, Colombia's

major guerrilla group.

What is new and more ominous is that the Uribe

regime's de facto policy of extra-territoriality has

been converted into a de jure strategic doctrine of

unilateral military intervention. Colombia no longer

pretends to be engaged in a "covert" selective policy

of violating other countries sovereignty but has

publicly declared the supremacy of its laws and the

right to apply them anywhere in the world where it

unilaterally declares its case for national security.

Colombia's gross violations of Venezuelan and

Ecuadorian sovereignty is a policy clearly endorsed

and dictated at the highest levels of the Colombian

state ­ exclusively the prerogative of President Uribe

­ and endorsed at the highest level of the US

government by its principal diplomatic spokesperson in

Colombia, Ambassador Woods ("We endorse Uribe's action

100%"). The 'Granda incident' is not simply an

isolated diplomatic incident which can be resolved

through good faith bilateral negotiations. The

kidnapping is part of a larger strategy involving

preparations ­ ideological, political and military ­

for a large-scale, political-military confrontation

with Venezuela.

The enunciation and practice of the Uribe Doctrine has

several purposes. One is in line with US and Colombian

elite policy: To overthrow the Chavez regime. Chavez

opposes the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as

its plans to invade Iran. In Latin America, Chavez

opposes the US-dominated Free Trade of the Americas

Pact. Secondly the Uribe doctrine seeks to destroy

Cuban-Venezuelan trade ties, in order to undermine the

Cuban revolutionary government. Thirdly the Uribe

doctrine is aimed at maintaining Venezuela as an

exclusive oil exporter to the US ­ at a time when the

Chavez government has signed trade agreements to

diversify its oil markets to China and elsewhere.

Fourthly, and most probably most important from the

strict perspective of the Uribe regime's survival, the

Colombian government is profoundly disturbed by the

positive social impact which the Chavez welfare

policies have on the majority of Colombians living in

poverty, especially his newly announced agrarian

reform, and his defense of national public enterprises

(especially the state petroleum company) within the

framework of free and democratic institutions. Uribe's

austerity policies, his military and paramilitary

forces displacement of three million peasants, his

promotion of greater and greater concentration of

wealth and the slashing of social services, and worse,

the systematic long-term large-scale violations of

human and democratic rights stand in polar opposition

to Venezuela under President Chavez which provides a

viable, accessible and visible alternative easily

understood by vast numbers of Colombians who migrate

to Venezuela. By intervening in Venezuela, by

supporting US and its local coup-makers, Uribe hopes

to undercut the political appeal of revolutionary

politics, whether it takes the form of electoral,

guerrilla and /or social movements.

The most immediate purpose of the Uribe doctrine is to

defeat the 20,000 person guerrilla armies which

control or influence half of Colombia's territory. The

purpose of the recent interventions is to pressure

neighboring governments to ally themselves with the

Colombian death-squads in a regional campaign to

resolve the Colombian elites internal problems ­ i.e.

the decimation of the opposition to US regional

domination. The bombastic "anti-terror" international

propaganda campaign of the Uribe regime is an

admission of the failure of its internal

counter-insurgency campaign. Uribe's accusations that

the Venezuelan State is "protecting" or "providing

sanctuary to terrorists" is patently false. Uribe

provides no systematic evidence. The real purpose is

to blackmail the Venezuelan state ­ or its most

malleable sectors ­ into abdicating their role as a

neutral peace mediators and submitting to the dictates

of the Colombian-US security apparatus.

The Uribe regime has been widely recognized as one of

the worst practitioners of state terrorism in the


Tens of thousands of peasants, social and human rights

activists, trade unionists and journalists have been

murdered by the security forces ­ the military

directly, or via the state financed paramilitary

groups. Every day of every year, scores of peasants

and critics of the regime are slaughtered. State

terror is the defining characteristic of the Uribe

regime and its US military advisory and military


Uribe who sends 130 paramilitary forces to terrorize

Venezuela, supports a failed violent coup and then

provides asylum and material support to the exiled

senior members of the coup and who blatantly bribes

Venezuelan soldiers to betray their country to

perpetuate a kidnapping, accuses Chavez of harboring

terrorists and calls for an "international conference"

on "terrorism". Uribe's purpose in calling for a

regional conference is not to discuss the state

terrorism which is endemic to and embedded in his

regime (with US backing), but to justify the Uribe

doctrine of unilateral intervention and to mobilize

other regional US clients in support of its internal

war and to pressure the Chavez regime to subordinate

itself to Colombia's security doctrine.

Chavez has recognized the growing security threat

posed by the kidnapping and has terminated

state-to-state economic and military projects and

recalled his ambassador from Bogotá. He has proposed

to Uribe a bi-lateral meeting of heads of state to

resolve differences with regard to the kidnapping and

related incidents. But no amount of diplomatic

maneuvering on the part of Venezuela's foreign

ministry nor aggressive propaganda campaign by the

Colombian security state can obviate the fact that the

Colombian state is bent on a course of direct military

confrontation with Venezuela.

Implication of Uribe Doctrine

The political and military implications of the Uribe

Doctrine are an extreme departure from the recognized

norms of international law and closely approximate the

belligerent practices of imperial satraps. If all

countries were the apply the Uribe Doctrine we would

face a world of constant wars, conquests and prolonged

liberation struggles throughout Latin America.

Explicit in the Uribe Doctrine's claim to militarily

intervene across national borders is a state of

permanent belligerency. This policy means that every

Latin American country must limit its sovereignty

according to the Colombian definitions of "national

security". This is clearly unacceptable to any

independent country, like Venezuela, though the

Gutierrez regime in Ecuador has accepted the role of a

"second level client" , of the Uribe regime which in

turn is a client of the US.

Equally serious, the Uribe Doctrine rejects recognized

frontiers, meaning that it arrogates to itself the

right to cross national boundaries at will without

consulting the countries whose borders it violates. It

is a short step from not recognizing borders and

national boundaries to annexing adjacent regions for

"security" or economic reasons. Colombia has in the

recent past (1992) nearly provoked a major war by

sending its warships into Venezuelan waters. Uribe's

notion of an international ideological war without

frontiers is an exact replica of the Bush imperial

project, translated into the Andean region. Clearly

Uribe aspires to play a sub-imperial role in the

Northern region of South America under US tutelage.

The Uribe Doctrine stands as a stark rejection of all

United Nation's principles and in violation of

international law-which, however, has already been

weakened by the acquiescence of most of the major

Latin American countries in the US-led invasion of

Haiti, the kidnapping of its elected leader (President

Bertrand Aristide) and the presence of Latin American

colonial occupation forces on the island.

The Colombian threat to Venezuela's sovereignty has

been taken by Venezuela's rightwing opposition as a

welcome intervention. This was manifest in the

Congressional debates following the kidnapping of

Granda when opposition members of congress condemned

the Venezuelan government's defense of national

sovereignty and justified Uribe's intervention in


Washington has provided more military aid to Colombia

than all the rest of Latin America combined, and only

second to Israel in the world. The US strategy

revolves around defeating the guerrilla movement as a

first step toward consolidating power in the Andean

region and the upper Amazon basin. Once secured this

region would become a springboard toward invading and

taking over Venezuela and its oil fields. The US,

through Uribe, has tripled the size of the Colombian

armed forces over the past few years to over 267,000

troops. It has vastly increased its aerial firepower

(combat helicopters and fighter planes) and provided

the most advanced technological weaponry to detect and

track guerrilla movements. Yet the strategy, while

massacring thousands of peasant sympathizers and

displacing millions of others, has failed to gain any

strategic military advantage over the guerrillas. As

long as the Colombian regime is tied down by the

guerrilla resistance, it can only play a limited role

in any military invasion of Venezuela. For Uribe to

engage in a US-sponsored invasion of Venezuela is a

very risky proposition, opening a large swathe of

territory for a guerrilla offensive

The kidnapping of Granda is only the "dress rehearsal"

of a larger project of escalating provocations to test

the loyalty, discipline and effectiveness of the

Venezuelan security system. Washington is probing to

see how far it can push Venezuela in surrendering its

sovereignty and control over its borders.

Uribe and Washington's effort to drive a wedge between

the popular resistance in Colombia and the Chavez

government by using the "terrorist issue" as a

political club has, in part, backfired , arousing a

potent undercurrent of nationalist sentiment in

Venezuela, while seriously jeopardizing important

sectors of the Colombian economy, including elite

classes which normally back Uribe.

Washington and Uribe's proposal for an international

conference to discuss the issue of terror is based on

their knowledge that most of the Latin American

regimes today are eager to serve US interests. During

the previous period of sustained economic and

political warfare against the elected Chavez

government by the authoritarian right, Brazil's Celso

Amorin organized a group of countries calling

themselves "The Friends of Venezuela" made up of

hostile neo-liberal Ibero-Americans leaders, including

ex-Presidents Aznar of Spain and Bush of the US (who

both supported the failed military coup), Fox of

Mexico and Lagos of Chile (notorious free marketers)

and, of course, Brazil which gave equal political

standing to the Venezuelan rightwing opposition as to

the elected government. Chavez rightly rejected the

mediation of such "friends".

Today Lula offers his services once again to "mediate"

between an international aggressor and a sovereign

country. Except for Cuba, not a single Latin American

client regime has condemned Uribe's aggression or,

worse, spoken out clearly in opposition to his

doctrine of extra-territoriality. President Chavez is

clearly aware of the pitfalls of meeting in an

"international summit" dominated by hostile

neo-liberal, pro-empire regimes that have already

accepted and submitted to the Bush-Uribe

anti-terrorist doctrine.

Chavez is absolutely correct to counterpoise the

notion of a bilateral forum in which the focus is on

Colombia's intervention, where the issues of Uribe's

policy of state terrorism could become part of the

public debate on "terrorism". Of course, Washington

will "advise" Uribe to refuse. Chavez could then

advise his foreign minister to take the matter to the

UN General Assembly as a matter of urgent importance

of peace, security and national sovereignty. Chavez

has already retaliated to continued US overt

aggression by signing oil export and investment

agreements with China, Russia, Latin America and

Europe. Shutting off imports of Colombian agricultural

imports could stimulate a more intensified effort to

promote local agricultural production, push for a more

expeditious agrarian reform and greater public

investment in local food production.

The kidnapping of Granda and the subverting of a few

Venezuelan officials can serve as a wake-up call for

the Venezuelan leadership to the real threats to

national sovereignty which emanate from the US-backed

Uribe doctrine. The threat is real, it is systemic and

it is immediate. President Uribe has the backing of an

imperial power but Chavez has the backing of the

overwhelming majority of Venezuelans and the fact that

they will be willing to fight to defend their land,

their government and their right to live as a

sovereign people. The question of Venezuelan

sovereignty is now not simply a question of diplomatic

maneuvers but of organizing the mass of the

Venezuelans into becoming a military deterrent to any

armed aggression.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at

Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50 year

membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the

landless and jobless in brazil and argentina and is

co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed). He can be

reached at:





> A city-wide planning meeting will be held to

> organize a mass mobilization to support the people

> and

> the government of Venezuela. All are welcome! This

> is a critical moment in the history of the

> Bolivarian

> Revolution of Venezuela!


> When? Thursday, February 3, 2005 --- 7:00 p.m.

> Where? Echo Park United Methodist Church

> 1226 North Alvarado at the corner of Alvarado

> and Resevoir.... one long block north of the corner

> of

> Alvarado and Sunset on Alvarado.

> ~~~~ Please recruit trusted individuals and groups

> to

> be a part of this planning~~~~~~~~ Venezuela is

> under

> attack and U.S. intervention is escalating.~~~~~



Committee In Solidarity With The People of El Salvador

8124 West 3rd Street L.A. Ca. 90048


Founded: 1980 - 23 Years of Solidarity

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