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Cablegate: Venezuela: 2005 Country Reports On Terrorism

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. 04 CARACAS 3924
B. STATE 193439

1. (SBU) Post's POC is Political Officer Charles Ridley: TEL
58-212-907-8052, FAX 58-212-907-8033, EMAIL In April 2006 POC will be Political
Officer Adam Center, EMAIL


2. (U) Venezuelan cooperation in the international campaign
against terrorism continued to be negligible in 2005. Public
recriminations against U.S. counterterrorism policies by
President Hugo Chavez and his close supporters persist;
indeed, President Chavez publicly champions the cause of
Iraqi insurgents. Such statements overshadow and detract
from the extremely limited cooperation that exists between
specialists and technicians of the two nations.

3. (U) Valid Venezuelan citizenship, identity, or travel
documents can be easily obtained, making Venezuela a
potentially attractive destination-or way station en route to
the United States-for terrorists. For example, senior
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) member Rodrigo
Granda, whose December 2004 capture in Caracas was allegedly
orchestrated by Colombian officials, had been naturalized as
a Venezuelan citizen and had a Venezuelan identification
card. Granda also attended an ideological conference in
Venezuela in December 2004 along with Venezuelan government
personnel, according to press reports. A FARC communique
claimed that Granda was in Venezuela at the request of the
Venezuelan Government.

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4. (U) President Chavez' stated ideological affinity with
Colombian terrorist organizations designated by the Secretary
of State in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration
and Nationality Act-the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN)-limits
Venezuelan cooperation with Colombia in combating terrorism.
The FARC and the ELN, which the Government of Venezuela does
not recognize as terrorist organizations, often use the area
for cross-border incursions and regard Venezuelan territory
near the border as a safe haven. In addition, splinter
groups of the FARC and another designated organization, the
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), operate in
various parts of Venezuela and are involved in

5. (U) It is unclear to what extent the Government of
Venezuela condones or administers material support to
Colombian terrorists and at what level. An ex-ELN guerrilla
told the press in February 2005 that a "non-aggression" pact
existed between the ELN and Venezuelan authorities and added
that the Venezuelan National Guard allowed the terrorist
group to kidnap ranchers. Weapons and ammunition-some from
official Venezuelan stocks and facilities-continue to go from
Venezuelan suppliers into the hands of Colombian terrorist
organizations, although it is not clear that such diversion
results from Venezuelan government policy. In any case,
Venezuela is unable and unwilling to systematically police
the 1,400-mile Venezuela-Colombia border. Venezuelan
security officials appear to be aware of the location of
terrorist encampments in Venezuela, as the press has reported
on the general vicinities of many of these. Efforts by
Venezuelan security forces to interdict arms flows to these
groups are also ineffective.

6. (U) Venezuela is a party to six of the 12 international
conventions and protocols relating to terrorism. Venezuela
has signed and ratified the UN Convention on Terrorist
Bombings of 1997, the UN Convention on Terrorism Financing of
1999, and the OAS Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism
of 2002. Venezuela's organized crime bill and penal code
reform bill, both passed in 2005, outline punishments for
collaborating with terrorists. The laws, however, do not
define the terms "terrorist" or "terrorism." If passed, an
anti-terrorism bill proposed in 2001 would define terrorist
activities more specifically, although the law could also
undercut political freedoms. In November 2004, the Supreme
Court's Judicial Committee designated a group of judges to
decide all terrorism cases and review decisions in terrorism
investigations. It remains uncertain whether the Supreme
Court designees and the current and proposed laws are
directed at curbing terrorism or President Chavez' opponents.

7. (U) Unidentified groups attempting to influence the
tenuous domestic political situation employed terrorist
tactics throughout 2005, particularly in Caracas. A series
of small bombs and threats were variously blamed on President
Chavez' supporters or on his political opponents. The
Venezuelan Government continued to allege in 2005 that exile
groups, the U.S. Government, and President Bush sought to
overthrow President Chavez and kill him, but it offered no
proof. As recently as late December 2005, the Venezuelan
Government claimed such groups were trying to sabotage
Venezuela's December 4, 2005 legislative elections.
Venezuelan authorities claimed in May 2004 that they had
captured some 100 Colombian paramilitaries training secretly
near Caracas, although it is unclear whether any of the
detained were members of the AUC. While most were eventually
released, 27 of the Colombians and three Venezuelan military
officers were sentenced to varying prison terms on October
25, 2005.

8. (U) Within an Arab and South Asian immigrant population of
about 250,000, there are small groups of Shia and Sunni
radicals in Venezuela. At a minimum, the Sunni radicals are
sympathetic to the global jihad, especially that waged by
Palestinian groups. There were indications of monetary
support for Middle Eastern terrorist groups coming from
Islamic groups in several Venezuelan urban centers. As the
Venezuelan Government's budding relationship with Iran
develops, small but well organized Venezuelan Shia groups,
including those affiliated with Lebanese Hizballah, may
adhere more closely to an Iranian conception of a global
struggle against Western interests. For its part, the
Venezuelan Government makes little effort to cooperate with
the United States in the Global War on Terror.

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