Venezuelan Police Discover Large Arms Cache
Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2009
By Tamara Pearson
May 11th 2009, Venezuelanalysis.com
Venezuelan police arrested four men and confiscated a large quantity of sophisticated weaponry that government officials speculate could have been part of an assassination plan against President Chávez. This discovery occurred in the context of a wave of apparently politically motivated violence that Chávez supporters suspect is part of a wider new campaign against the government.
On Friday the Venezuelan investigative police raided an apartment in north Caracas which was allegedly the property of a French citizen, Frederik Bocquet, who according to Tarek El Aissami, minister for internal affairs, is "a person ready and trained in the military and furthermore, is a sniper."
Following the weapon confiscation El Aissami said, "There's an irrational sector of the opposition in this country who still hold hopes of destroying this revolutionary process and they have planned as their objective, getting rid of President Chávez."
He explained, "We can demonstrate that this type of weapon used by these military terrorist organisations are for destabilisation actions. With this discovery we don't hesitate to tell the country that we have landed a strong blow against terrorism and to those groups who want to drag Venezuela down to scenes of blood and confrontation."
In the apartment police found a range of weaponry, including 13 long range rifles, 3 shot guns, knives, two machine guns, silencers, telescopic citers, bullet-proof vests, 20,000 bullets, grenades, military uniforms, radio equipment, electronic detonator systems, and half a kilogram of C4 explosives.
In connection to the discovery the police have detained three men of Dominican nationality along with Bocquet.
Suspicions About A Wave of Politically Motivated Violence
In addition to the discovery of the weapons arsenal, a series of other incidents, such as the murder of a socialist party youth activist, attack on state oil workers, and murders of union organizers, have raised alarm bells about a possible link to the opposition.
While it is not certain that any of the recent incidents were politically based, they follow the murder of Toyota union leader Argenis Vasquez last Tuesday in Sucre state who was shot by a person from a car and the murders of three National Workers Union leaders in November last year in Aragua state.
The opposition is in the "decisive stage" of a destabilisation plan, said former vice president Jose Vicente Rangel during his TV show on Sunday.
He described political military organisations with facades of social organisations and gave examples of the security corporation of opposition Caracas mayor, Antonio Ledezma or the social networks of Leopoldo Lopez, opposition leader and ex mayor of Chacao. Rangel said that opposition sectors are injecting their presence in rural and urban networks, "to promote social demands and a large number of social, labour, and education conflicts."
Rangel argued that opposition leaders are trying to generate various rumours and promote discontent within organisations like the National Armed Forces, "to promote panic and distrust towards the government's security policies."
PSUV Youth Killed
On Saturday morning a 24 year old PSUV member, Junior Hermoso, was shot three times and killed while he was staffing a PSUV registration tent in Caracas.
Omar Perez, from the PSUV youth organization said the murder could be classified as a hired political assassination (sicariato) because the method of murder—a quick drive by shooting—is characteristic of such assassinations.
Chavez expressed his condolences over the death, but also warned that Venezuelans should be careful about making theories over the cause of the murder.
On Sunday El Aissami announced that the murderer had been caught. Although he did not release a name he mentioned that the person had been under the influence of drugs at the time of the shooting.
Five Oil Workers Injured by Gun Shots
Also on Friday, at least four people in Zulia state were injured when strangers in a car opened fire on them while they were carrying out a government vaccination campaign with the support of PSUV members, according to local Zulia papers.
However, the newspaper Panorama, reports that the people in the car shot into a crowd of around 800 oil workers and community representatives who had assembled to watch the government takeover of various petroleum related companies. Both sources agree that the shootings took place outside one such nationalised contract company, Hermanos Papagayos. Panorama reported six injuries.
Two Trade Unionists Killed
Finally, last Wednesday, two trade unionists were shot dead. Wilmer Bermudez, 32, of a construction union, was killed in Vargas state at 7am. He received 8 shots.
Sergio Devis, 33, in Bolivar state and also a construction unionist, received a shot to the head after he was thrown out of a car, according to neighbours. National paper Ultimos Noticias reports that in both cases, it seems there were disagreements within the respective union organisations.