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The Murder of Venezuela's Top Prosecutor

Danilo Anderson and Condoleeza Rice

by TONI SOLO

On Tuesday November 16th, George Bush put forward Condoleeza Rice as his proposed Secretary of State to take over the diplomacy of US warmongering from the outgoing fraud, Colin Powell. Two days later on November 18th leading Venezuelan judicial prosecutor Danilo Anderson was killed in a car bomb attack eerily reminiscent of the murder of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit in Washington in 1976 by Cuban terrorists working for Augusto Pinochet and protected by the CIA. The Venezuelan authorities believe Anderson was killed by two charges of C4 plastic explosive fixed to his car and detonated remotely, apparently by cell phone. The timing of Rice’s nomination and Anderson’s murder are unlikely to be fortuitous.

With Rice’s appointment, George Bush sustains the incestuous link between his regime and earlier, still extant, plutocrat state terror Godfathers like George Bush Sr., James Baker and George Schultz. Rice, a protege of Schultz, the former Bechtel president, could hardly be a more emblematic representative of the nexus between state terror and big business. Chevron may have renamed the former "Condoleeza Rice" oil tanker "Altair Voyager", but that all-too-recent link to an outfit boasting it "… now ranks among the most important international petroleum producers in Venezuela and Colombia, is one of the largest private integrated oil companies in Brazil and is the third-leading producer in Argentina" bodes ill for people in Latin America. (1)

Why was Anderson murdered?

Danilo Anderson was an investigating magistrate in charge of several prominent and politically sensitive cases. His work proceeded in the context of recent elections confirming overwhelming popular support for President Hugo Chavez. Among the cases within Anderson’s brief were those against the leader of a mob that attacked the Cuban Embassy in Caracas during the failed coup d’etat of April 12th (2002) and against members of the Caracas Metropolitan Police accused of unlawful attacks under opposition ex-mayor Alfredo Pena. Anderson was also processing cases against owners of Venezuelan TV and Press media implicated in the April coup of 2002 as well as the signatories of the coup declaration overthrowing the elected government.

Perhaps the most internationally sensitive case he was working on was that against the Sumate organization, a supposedly impartial NGO funded by the CIA’s companion organization the National Endowment for Democracy. In fact, Sumate actively campaigned with US government money to defeat President Chavez throughout the long process ending in last August’s recall referendum. Such activity contravened Sumate’s neutral non-profit status, breaking Venezuelan law in the process.

Writer and academic Heinz Dieterich has written cogently about Anderson’s murder, "The menace of Danilo for Washington’s terrorist project was two-fold: he threatened one of its main instruments of power, Venezuela’s corrupt class justice system and too he was becoming a symbol of the honest patriot and servant of the majority of the new Bolivarian nation….Danilo Anderson’s murder shows that the subversion has made a qualitative leap to a generalised offensive. From now on, people emblematic of the process whose death may have a high propaganda value for Washington will be in danger. Likewise, the subversion will begin attacks against energy and transport infrastructure and carry out more murders and incursions along the Colombian border…Looking back in history, we can say that the Bolivarian revolution has entered the phase of the Cuban revolution of 1960 when the US-Cuban counter-revolution launched attacks, sabotage and murders from nuclei in the Sierra Escambrey or, too, Nicaragua from 1983 onwards." (http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=7885)

The silence from international media has been eloquent. An ever ready litmus test of mainstream media hypocrisy is to check out the less reactionary media that preen themselves on their "balance". But if you review the web sites of UK media like the Guardian, the Independent or the BBC you will look in vain for any report on the murder of Danilo Anderson. Why is this? Presumably for the same reasons UN supervision of the murder and rape of opponents to the US puppet regime in Haiti fails to make the news – lazy complacency, herd instinct, advertiser-conscious self-censorship and jobsworth respect for the limits of dissent.

Rice on the April 2002 coup

In effect, mainstream media serve as the echo chambers of empire, colluding in imperial silences as well as projecting hyperbolic PR spin. Condoleeza Rice’s commitment to the subversion of Venezuela’s elected government has been clear ever since the coup of April 2002. The perversity of her analysis of Venezuelan affairs can be seen in this quote from NBC’s "Meet the Press" on April 14th 2002. Interviewed by Tim Russert after Chavez was returned to power by massive popular demonstrations against the coup plotters, here’s what Rice had to say:

"I hope that Hugo Chavez takes the message that his people sent him that his own policies are not working for the Venezuelan people, that he’s dealt with them in a high-handed fashion. And I hope what he said in his speech this morning, that he understands that this is a time for national reflection, that he recognizes it’s time for him to reflect on how Venezuela got to where it is. He needs to respect constitutional processes….." (http://embajadausa.org.ve/wwwh1789.html)

Perhaps only in the United States could an analysis so totally contrary to the facts be taken seriously. But the profound mendacity of individuals like Rice is nothing new. Their conscious doublespeak – averring concern for democracy while doing all in their power to destroy it – serves as a cover for deniable operations by Rice’s shadowy covert operations colleagues – operations like the murder of Danilo Anderson.

Destabilization: breaking out the standard tool kit

The United States terror machine has always used covert armed violence to complement bribery, political subversion, economic thuggery, trade and aid blackmail, media falsification and electoral dirty tricks. Proof of the well-armed subversion in Venezuela, probably abetted by United States covert agencies like the CIA, came on Tuesday, November 23rd when a young lawyer wanted for questioning in relation to Anderson’s murder died in a shoot out with Venezuelan police. In his house the police found explosives, rocket launchers and missiles. The discovery is yet more evidence indicating a well-financed terrorist network organized from outside Venezuela, based mainly in Colombia and the United States.

The Venezuelan authorities have good reason to be suspicious of US motives despite last week’s statement by US ambassador Brownfield condemning Anderson’s murder. No action has been taken by US authorities against Venezuelan opposition terrorist training camps in Florida or against opposition figures like well known Venezuelan actor Orlando Urdaneta who recently in Miami publicly called for assassinations of leading members of the Venezuelan government. Former Venezuelan army officers wanted by the Venezuelan courts in relation to the bombing of foreign embassies in Caracas have found sanctuary in the US.

Similarly, earlier this year exiled and disgraced former President Carlos Andres Perez was widely reported calling for the violent overthrow of Venezuela’s elected government. Colombia protects the leader of the April 2002 coup, Pedro Carmona. Venezuela has requested his extradition, so far without result. It’s worth remembering that Colin Powell held at least one meeting with the exiled Carmona in Bogota in December of 2002.

In June this year, Miami’s Channel 41 TV station broadcast a programme featuring anti-Castro and anti-Chavez terrorists in what was in effect a fundraiser. Counterpunch reported, "Adding weight to recent accusations of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, former Venezuelan army captain Eduardo Garcia was also present in full uniform to discuss the help Comandos F4 were giving in his efforts to bring down Chavez by force. Chavez has frequently charged that Miami Cuban-American terrorist organizations are involved with Venezuelans seeking to assassinate him….The host of the Round Table program, Randy Alonso, simply asked viewers to form their own conclusions after seeing such an astonishing program, commenting that the message that Frometa gave was clear: his paramilitary organization was ready and trained–it just needed the money. And, said Alonso, the money is there–$36 million recently earmarked by the US government to support such groups."

Continent-wide offensive

The Bush regime has begun to pay more urgent attention to Latin America. Just this month, Donald Rumsfeld visited Nicaragua on his way to Ecuador for a summit meeting of Defence Ministers from the Americas. In Quito, Rumsfeld pressed, among many other things, for the region’s military to take on civilian policing roles. In Chile, President Bush himself attended the Asia Pacific Economic Conference, making time also to visit Alvaro Uribe, propped up by narco-paramilitaries as President of Colombia. Uribe’s dismal repressive army dominated security regime has led to increasing numbers of disappearances of members of the civil opposition and murders of trades unionists. President Bush promised even more support from the US taxpayer for Colombia’s state terrorist government.

As its economic position weakens in relation to Europe and Asia, the US plutocrat class-warrior government will increasingly need to rely on control of Latin America to sustain their budget and trade profligacy. Everything they do in Latin America is inter-related: trade and investment deals, military bases, ruthless pressure for more failed neo-liberal policies through the IMF and World Bank, corporate pillage of energy and mineral resources, legal or illegal introduction of genetically manipulated grains, insistence on multinational-friendly intellectual property rules, training paramilitaries in Colombia, promoting subversion in Venezuela, continuing economic and armed terrorism against the people of Cuba. The list of activity goes well beyond legitimate defence of US interests and reaches far into the realms of terrorism and militarist aggression.

It is reasonable to suggest that when George Bush named Condoleeza Rice as his next Secretary of State, he signalled the all clear for an escalation in covert action against opponents of US policy in Latin America. Danilo Anderson was the first victim of that escalation in Venezuela. Rice’s appointment and Bush’s personal enthusiastic endorsement of Alvaro Uribe sends a clear message that Venezuela in particular and Latin America in general can expect higher levels of US government inspired terrorism from now on.

TONI SOLO is an activist based in Central America. Contact via www.tonisolo.net