Cablegate: Venezuelan Prosecutor Investigates 400 For

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L CARACAS 003219



E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/25/2014

Classified By: cda stephen g. mcfarland FOR REASON 1.4 (d)


1. (U) Venezuelan prosecutor Danilo Anderson took testimony
from three media executives at the beginning of October as
part of his investigation into the events of April 12-13,
2002. Anderson announced on September 17 that he was
reopening the investigation of persons who had supported the
interim government of Pedro Carmona. Anderson announced the
investigation would involve some 400 people associated with
the "Carmona Decree," which dissolved the GOV in April 2002.
In addition to those that signed the decree, Anderson is
targeting persons known to be present in Miraflores Palace at
the time, having "signed in" or been caught on videotape.
Sumate's Maria Corina Machado and Zulia Governor Manuel
Rosales are perhaps the most prominent persons on the list.
End Summary.

Case Reopened

2. (U) On September 17 prosecutor Danilo Anderson announced
that Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez had ordered him to
reopen the investigation into the events of April 12, 2002
surrounding the installation of the Carmona government. He
told reporters he would investigate those people named as
ministers in Carmona's government, those who signed the
"Carmona Decree" and those who were present at Miraflores
during Carmona's swearing in.


3. (C) On April 11, 2002 Gen. Lucas Rincon announced
President Chavez' resignation on national television.
Hundreds of Chavez opponents had marched to the Presidential
Palace and occupied it when military officers took the
President into custody. Pedro Carmona, then president of the
business federation FEDECAMARAS, swore himself in as
president. This act broke the constitutional chain. Amidst
the celebrating and negotiating, a decree was written. It is
not clear who wrote it, though that is likely to be part of
Anderson's investigation. The Carmona Decree, as it is now
known, dissolved the GOV, the National Assembly, the Supreme
Court, and the Citizen Power, including the prosecutor's
office. The decree was signed publicly by the representatives
of several institutions, and publicly proclaimed. This
decree, and the political attacks against Chavista officials,
is generally credited with sparking the reaction of loyal
elements of the military, which led to Chavez' restitution on
April 13. In 2002 the Supreme Court, sitting in Plenary
Chamber, ruled that the events of April 11, 2002, did not
constitute a coup, but rather a power vacuum, given Chavez'
resignation. The decision halted attempts to try the military
participants in the April events.

400 Blows

3. (U) On September 30 Anderson announced that he expected
to call 400 persons to testify, possibly as suspects, over
the course of two months. He said he intended to investigate
Carmona's ministers first, then those who signed the decree
publicly, then those who signed privately after Carmona was
sworn in, and finally those who were present at Miraflores
during Carmona's swearing in ceremony as president. For this
last group, Anderson plans to use videos to identify people.
Anderson told the press that the investigation was beginning
from the assumption that the crime committed was civil
rebellion. Depending on the level of complicity, suspects
might be charged as author, co-author, participant or
accomplice. Anderson said he would not call Gen. Lucas
Rincon, who announced Chavez' resignation, or the Vice
President at the time, Diosdado Cabello, to testify.

Media Execs Testify

4. (U) Globovision Director General Alberto Ravell testified
before prosecutor Danilo Anderson on October 4, about an
alleged meeting on April 13, 2002, between interim president
Pedro Carmona and media executives, allegedly to design the
interim government's communication policy. Anderson told
reporters that he had learned of the meeting from testimony
by Rafael Arreaza, Carmona's Health Minister. Anderson also
summoned Globovision President Guillermo Zuloaga on October
5, Venevision President Victor Ferrer on October 7, and
Venevision owner Gustavo Cisneros on October 8. The media
executives told reporters that the meeting with Carmona was
public, that they had not met to design Carmona's
communication policy, and that they had not signed the
decree. Some noted that the allegation did not make sense
because as independent media their role is not to advise a
government on a communication strategy.

Fear Abounds

5. (C) On October 5 PolOff spoke with Juan Martin
Echevarria, who represents some of the potential suspects. He
said he knew many people who were scared, and that some would
follow Rafael Arreaza's step of coming forward and
cooperating with Anderson to avoid being charged. Martin
suggested that these testimonies could be manipulated by
Anderson to implicate whoever he wanted in whatever crime he
wanted. Martin suggested that the appointment of Anderson as
prosecutor sent a powerful message, since people remembered
that he sent Baruta Mayor Henrique Capriles to jail for 120
days. Martin said the case was an attack against the
opposition rear-guard, designed to shut down sources of
financing and other support for opposition leaders by
bringing the real threat of prison close to home.

6. (C) Most of those alleged to have signed apparently
signed blank pieces of paper, which press reports have said
were left out for people to sign their adherence to the
decree. Maria Corina Machado, of SUMATE, listed as a signer
on lists that have appeared in the press, alleges that she
signed only a visitors book, though her lawyer, Martin, told
PolOff she physically signed a blank piece of paper. Martin
confirmed that Machado's mother also signed a piece of paper
in Miraflores, and would probably be called to testify.

7. (C) Several people signed the decree publicly in the name
of various social and political groups, including: Cardinal
Velasco in the name of the Catholic Church; Carlos Fernandez,
in the name of FEDECAMARAS; Zulia Governor Manuel Rosales, in
the name of the regional governments. MVR Deputy Saul Ortega
told PolOff on October 6 that it would probably be impossible
to convict those who signed the blank pieces of paper, or
those who were physically present. The ministers, and those
who signed publicly, however, were guilty of treason and
should be convicted, Ortega said. Construyendo Pais deputy
Leopoldo Martinez, whom Carmona named Finance Minister, told
PolCouns he did not believe Anderson would pursue a case
against him because of his parliamentary immunity. Anderson,
he asserted, was more intent on intimidating Chavez opponents
than in ever taking the investigation to fruition.


9. (C) Capitalizing on winning the referendum, the GOV is
turning to ensure that opponents understand there is a cost
to participation in politics against the government. It is
also important for Chavistas that April 11 be legally defined
as a coup, and those who supported the Carmona government as
coupsters. The prosecutor's office is being used to convey
this message. The beginning of the parade of persons
answering Anderson's summons appeared to be fairly innocuous.
The list is long, however, and there are bound to be
flare-ups, for example when SUMATE representative Maria
Corina Machado is called. That moment, while solely at
Anderson's discretion, will likely occur at an advantageous
moment for the GOV and an inopportune moment for its
opponents. Still unknown is how far the prosecutions are
likely to proceed through the judiciary.

© Scoop Media

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