Mérida, September 9th, 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - Rafael Garcia, ex director of information technology of Colombia's main intelligence agency, DAS, revealed that the agency had used its links with the paramilitary in Colombia to participate, together with Venezuelan opposition sectors, in a plot against the current Venezuelan government.
TeleSUR interviewed Garcia, who is currently in jail for 18 years, on Monday morning. Garcia described how the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), which is meant to fight terrorism in Colombia, and the Colombian internal affairs ministry, through their links with the Self-defence Units of Colombia (AUC), participated in a plot driven by Venezuelan opposition sectors against the Chavez government.
The AUC was an illegal paramilitary organisation created in 1997, to unite various paramilitary groups, and it declared itself a "counter-insurgency group" to fight the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Both Colombia and the US formally classified the AUC as a terrorist organisation, which, according to the records of one of its leaders, Carlos Castano, was financed by drug trafficking, kidnapping and extorsion.
Garcia explained in the interview that in the lead up to the presidential campaign in 2002, many politicians were supported by the AUC, in its aspiration to have influence in the Congress. Current Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, on being elected, handed out positions, including to some of these "paramilitary-politicians".
"Jorge Noguera [ex DAS director] knew he needed the support of [the North bloc of the AUC] ... and he looked for that support through me, because I participated in their campaigns, I participated in electoral fraud and everything," Garcia said.
Jorge Noguera, director of DAS from 2002-2006, was also head of Uribe's presidential election campaign. He is now in jail over his illegal relationship with the Colombian paramilitary, largely due to testimony by Garcia.
Noguera's arrest was part of what is known in the English world as the Paragate scandal (parapolitica in Spanish- or paramilitary politicians) where, in 2006, several Colombian politicians were arrested for colluding with the AUC. By April 2008, 62 congress members and 33 lawmakers, including Uribe's cousin, were in jail waiting to be tried.
Garcia then described how many of the paramilitary-politicians were present the day after Uribe won the election, in August 2002, and how they asked him to name Noguera for the position of DAS director. The AUC, Garcia explained, wanted influence in DAS, as well as to infiltrate the Attorney General's Office.
"Jorge Noguera, from the start, he said to me.... "Our mission is full collaboration with the AUC"". Garcia also named other people in the DAS who had collaborated with the AUC.
The police had a report pointing to Garcia as a link between Noguera and the AUC, and Noguera told Garcia one day, "Don't worry, because the president and the attorney general are well informed about this and they will protect us when the time comes." Indeed, when the scandal arose, Uribe initially transferred Noguerra to be consul in Milan, Garcia said later on in the interview.
"It's clear that there was a conspiracy plan against the Venezuelan government, in which DAS played a part, as well as the minister Fernando Londoño, who I suppose had friends in Venezuela," Garcia went on.
"Things are being discovered little by little... DAS took ex government employees and put them to work undercover...this is what Jorge Noguera did with Jorge Diaz, they took him from his position of DAS director in Cucuta and they put him to work on clandestine undercover operations in Venezuela."
"He and Jorge Noguera met with Venezuelan military personal. I don't know if these meetings took place here in Colombia or in Venezuela, but I know they took place," Garcia revealed.
In response to the question; do you think the plot you are talking about was initiated by Jorge Noguera and the minister Londoño? Garcia responded, "No, I don't think it was. They were sought after, above all Londoño, was sought after by Venezuelan opposition sectors."
"Over there [in Venezuela] there was an opposition alliance; I think it was called the Democratic Bloc, that had made alliances with factions of the [AUC] in order to conspire against the government of President Chavez."
Venezuelan opposition plans to defeat the Chavez government
"There were concrete plans, this group, the Democratic bloc, I don't remember the exact name, had a plan with three components. [Firstly,] the sabotage of productive apparatus in Venezuela, and as a result of this there was the [oil] strike in 2002 that caused a lot of damage to productive apparatus."
"[The second component of the plan was] media attacks, that is, putting the media against the Chavez government, and [thirdly] they looked at assassinating representatives in order to cause unease in Venezuelan society. In those plans, I know that President Chavez, Jose Vincent Rangel, the minister of justice and internal affairs, Jesse Chacon, and the attorney general, Isaías Rodriguez were included."
Next, Garcia talked about the assassination of Danilo Anderson in November 2004. Anderson was a Venezuelan environmental state prosecutor investigating over 400 people accused of crimes against the state and the Venezuelan people in the failed April 2002 Coup. He was killed by an explosive in his car.
"I didn't know that Danilo Anderson was included in this [list of people to assassinate], never the less it's very likely, given the way he was killed. A lot of explosives were passed on by DAS workers via the border post of Paraguachon, in my presence, I saw it."
The interviewer also asked about the over 100 presumed paramilitaries who have been detained in Venezuela. Garcia responded that, "The border [between Venezuela and Colombia] is imaginary when it comes to the [AUC] appropriating land or intimidating the population."
Garcia then gave the example of one romantic relationship that existed, and how this was used to help get paramilitaries into Venezuela. The woman involved in the relationship lent the AUC a large farm, El Hatillo, where they were later discovered by Venezuelan police.
"I know that in Zulia [state in Venezuela, bordering Colombia] there were a lot of people who collaborated, not just in these activities, but also in drug-smuggling though Venezuela... there was a time when [Noguera] was the authority, just as [he] was in Colombian cities, he was in Maracaibo [capital of Zulia state]."
"The AUC were a phenomenon that was changed by drug-smuggling....so they looked for cultivation and smuggling zones, so this is what permeated the [border] zone, including today [the phenomenon] is still present in [Venezulean border state] Tachira with [paramilitary group] the Black Eagles."
Venezuelan journalist Alberto Nolia, analysing the interview, said, "Its clear the Colombian government was completely involved in the conspiracy...Garcia has linked the government of Uribe with the paramilitaries and with drug smuggling."
The revelations of links between the Colombian government and its institutions with the paramilitary and the Venezuelan opposition's attempts to defeat the Chavez government come at a time when Colombia has just accepted a U.S. military presence on seven of its bases, something Chavez sees as paramount to "talking about war."
On Tuesday the Colombian Supreme Court annulled charges against Noguera, for aggravated murder, bribery and misappropriation, but the charge of coordinating crime remains.