New Terrorist Plot Against Venezuelan Government

May 16, 2004

During the week of May 9, Venezuelan authorities captured at least 71 paramilitaries who had infiltrated the country from Colombia as part of a plan to organize a coup d'etat against the constitutional government headed by Hugo Chavez. Authorities are continuing the search for as many as 50 more men believed to have escaped.

Most of the captured terrorists were members of the Colombian army's military reserve as well as a group of retired Venezuelan military officers. The group was training on the land of Robert Alonso, a legal resident of the U.S., who is heavily involved in an ongoing destabilization campaign against the Chavez government. One of the captured men said that the group's plan was to launch a raid against an arms depot in order to arm a militia of three to four thousand paramilitaries from Colombia as part of a planned coup d'etat.

In fact, over the last several months, Colombian paramilitaries have launched several across-border attacks against Venezuela. In addition, the Colombian government recently purchased a number of new tanks which many analysts believe could be used for an invasion of Venezuela. Such an invasion, by either regular or irregular forces from Colombia, could be used by the U.S. as an excuse to invade Venezuela. The U.S. government has already been implicated in the attempted coup against Chavez in April 2002 and continues to organize a destabilization campaign against Venezuela.