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The Education of Hugo Chávez (Cont.)
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Three images of Ilich Ramírez.  As a young man at the Fermin Toro high school in Caracas, the iconic image of the wanted terrorist with the nom de guerre Carlos the Jackal, and a Polaroid made in prison and sent to his father.  He is standing in front of a backdrop.  The handwritten caption reads, “What a delicious Cohiba!” referring to the famous Cuban cigars.

Return of the Jackal

If Hugo Chávez—mentored by Douglas Bravo, Luis Miquilena and Guillermo García Ponce—was the surrogate son of the ‘60s guerrilla movement, then Carlos the Jackal was the literal son.  The Jackal’s father was José Altagracía Ramírez, a militant communist who had struggled against the dictatorship of Pérez Jiménez with his close friend Luis Miquilena in the 1950s and then supported Castro and the FALN in the 1960s.

From birth the Jackal was raised to be a revolutionary fighter. Mr. Ramírez gave his son the name Ilich after Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov—a.k.a. Vladimir Lenin.  (Ilich’s younger brothers were named Vladimir and Lenin.) “Carlos” was a nom de guerre he acquired in the 70s.  At the age of 11, Ilich said he participated in his first two “conspiratorial experiences” with his father. (30) In 1964, at the age of 15, he was the leader of the PCV’s youth wing, the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR), which was founded by García Ponce. (31) During the Betancourt crackdown and while Miquilena, Petkoff and García Ponce were in the gaol, Carlos and his father moved between Bogotá, Miami, and Venezuela working with Castro, the FALN, and disgruntled Venezuelan military officers in an effort to overthrow Betancourt.  The PCV later funded Carlos’s studies at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow. (32) After college Carlos worked in Cuba creating a terrorist cell called Punto Cero, Zero Point. (33)

Later he moved to France where he worked with Palestinian Marxists (The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) attacking Jewish and Israeli targets in the Middle East and Europe. (The Popular Front, along with Black September, is most famous for the kidnapping and killing of eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games in 1972, although Carlos was not involved in the operation.)

Carlos’s first hit came on a cold night in December 1973 when he came knocking on the door of Joseph Sieff, vice-president of the British Zionist Federation in London. When the butler opened the door, Carlos put a 9mm Beretta to his head and demanded to be taken to Sieff.  He found his man up on the second floor coming out of the bathroom.  Carlos shot him point blank in the face, then stood over the body and tried to fire again, but the Beretta had jammed.  Carlos fled.  The single bullet he fired, in fact, failed to penetrate Sieff’s skull, but plowed through his teeth and imbedded itself in his jaw.  He eventually made a full recovery. (34)

 In 1976, after a falling out with Popular Front leader Wadi Haddad, Carlos set up his own group of terrorists-for-hire that plied their trade for anti-West and anti-Israeli groups and governments. He soon became a legend, and over the course of the next fifteen years conducted scores of operations—assassinations, kidnappings and bombings.

What Industrial Light and Magic is to film, Carlos the Jackal was to Cold War terrorism.  Contracted by East Germany, Libya, Czechoslovakia, Syria, Iraq, and anti-Zionist groups, the Jackal supplied the special effects for their “diplomacy by other means.” (35) As long as his projects were against “the imperialists,” he took the job. His credits included an assault on the Lod Airport in Israel and the bombing of a shopping center in Paris. (36)  (37) In 1975 he killed two French police officers and a Popular Front informant (the crime for which he is now imprisoned) and later that year kidnapped twelve OPEC ministers. In 1982 alone his group bombed the French cultural center in Beirut (five wounded), bombed a train leaving Toulouse (five killed, thirty wounded), assassinated a French Secret Service agent and his 25-year-old pregnant wife in their home, and bombed the French embassies in both Vienna and Beirut (six killed, 27 wounded). (38)

Ironically, Carlos was a quintessential sifrino—a rich Venezuelan snob, a forerunner of the oligarchs that Hugo Chávez would rail against.  His father had done well as an attorney and lavished his son with the best that money could buy.  Carlos dressed like a yachtsman, complete with an ascot and entirely too much cologne. While preparing for the 1975 kidnapping of twelve OPEC ministers in Austria, Carlos admitted to his comrades that he had remained bourgeois; while the other terrorists stayed in cheap motels, he checked himself into the Vienna Hilton. (39)

When the Cold War ended and Carlos’s sponsors disappeared, he retired to Khartoum where the Sudanese government, at least initially, protected him. But by 1994, after the CIA and French intelligence services discovered his whereabouts, the Sudanese agreed to sell him out.  After undergoing surgery on one of his testicles (an operation that required general anesthesia), Sudanese officials convinced Carlos that he was in danger and needed to be taken into protective custody.  Still drowsy from the operation, Carlos agreed.  Before he knew it, he was handcuffed, sedated, and on a plane bound for France. (40)

Back in Venezuela, when José Ramírez heard that his son had finally been captured he wept, then imprisoned himself in his home as a way to share his son’s fate.  “My son is the greatest hero in the world,” he said.  “I only live for my sons, my three boys, although some think I only live for one of them.” (41) When Chávez and his communist handlers came to power in 1999, Ramírez beseeched them to help his son, which they did their best to do. Communiqués from Caracas to the Venezuelan embassy in Paris discussed how to reopen the Carlos’s case and how to use $500,000 from a secret fund to pay his legal fees. (42) Yet, when Chávez was asked to explain his letter to the Jackal, the president insisted it “did not imply political solidarity.” (43)

After 9/11 the Chávez administration temporarily distanced itself from Carlos, likely due to the prisoner’s enthusiastic endorsement of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. The Jackal, who has converted to Islam, said that bin Laden’s struggle was his struggle too and that the September 11 attacks were a ''lofty feat of arms.'' (44)   Yet Chávez’s recent round of praise for Carlos and the renewed push for his extradition shows that Chávez—now comfortably in control of Venezuela and likely to be reelected in 2012—is becoming bolder in showing his radical roots. Guillermo García Ponce printed regular updates on Carlos’s life in prison in his newspaper, Vea.  Carlos is a ''revolutionary compatriot demonized in international Judaism's media campaigns,'' the paper has said. (45)

Some believe that the Chávez administration’s praise of the Jackal is a tactic to win easy points with radical Islam. (46)  After all, Venezuela moved close to Syria, Libya (under Qaddafi) and, most importantly, Iran. Venezuela is currently helping Iran with its nuclear program by letting it search for Uranium in Venezuela.  In return, Venezuela has received weapons from Iran and has been promised aid in developing its own nuclear program.  The countries also have set up joint banking operations which worry some security specialists because of its lack of transparency. 

The Lebanese group Hezbollah, which is partially financed by the government of Iran, has also increased its activity in Venezuela and Colombia, trafficking cocaine from the FARC in Colombia, through Venezuela—where enforcement is lax—to West Africa, and finally to markets in Europe.  The profits from the drug sales combined with support from Tehran are what keep the Hezbollah going. (47) Whether this operation is officially condoned by the Chávez government is unclear, but Chávez’s empathy for the Colombian FARC and his growing relationship with Iran make it unlikely that he would hinder the efforts of Hezbollah, a group both his allies support.

Indeed, the bridge between the revolutionary left and radical Islam personified in the career of Carlos the Jackal is being remade by Hugo Chávez. During a visit to Iran late last year, Chávez made the connection himself in a speech. “Our two revolutions, the Islamic Revolution and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, are in the end, one single fight." (48)


Fidel Castro greets Luis Miquilena on a state visit to Cuba. Hugo Chávez and his (then) wife Marisabel Rodríguez de Chávez look on.

Carlos Hernandez / El Universal


The Cuba Connection

When Chávez was released from prison in 1994, Luis Miquilena wasn’t the only one who took a special interest in him.  Just a few months after his release, Chávez was invited to Havana by Fidel Castro. Miquilena recalled that Castro was not only waiting for them on the tarmac, but accompanied them the entire trip, even staying up past midnight and cooking with them.  Speaking at the University of Havana, Chávez said, “We are honored as rebel soldiers by the fact that we are not allowed to enter North America.”  Speaking of his plans for Venezuela he said, “We do not rule out the path of weapons in Venezuela” and that his project had a great deal to offer Cuba, “a project with a horizon that stretches for twenty to forty years.” (49) After his visit, Chávez spent six months in Colombia where he met with both FARC and ELN (National Liberation Army) leaders. (50)

After taking office in 1999, President Chávez returned to Cuba to play baseball with Castro and the floodgates finally opened. Venezuela “is going in the same direction, toward the same sea where the Cuban nation is going, the sea of happiness,” Chávez said famously. (51) By 2000, Venezuela had became Cuba’s biggest trading partner, selling oil to the island at rock-bottom prices in exchange for legions of Cuban physicians, health-care workers, agricultural advisors, and sports trainers (many of whom promptly defected).  Chávez’s personal security was even supervised by G2—Castro’s secret service.

Between 1999 and 2004 the two leaders met more than 15 times and reportedly spoke on the phone every few days. (52) Chávez’s personal pilot at the time recalls that whenever Chávez was having a tough time as president, he could expect a call from the palace telling him to get the plane ready for a trip to Havana. But perhaps more telling was the way the two men interacted: They would put their arms around each other and sing songs on TV and Chávez would blow kisses as Castro’s plane departed. “For me, Fidel is like a father,” Chávez said. (53)  Indeed, after progressing through father figures like Douglas Bravo and Luis Miquilena, Chávez seemed to have finally found his man in the Cuban revolutionary.

To many it seemed an odd partnership, but the relationship was advantageous to both leaders. The year that Chávez came to power, 1999, was the year that Russian subsidies to Cuba negotiated during the Cold War finally expired—leaving the island desperate for foreign aid.  Venezuela neatly replaced Russia as Cuba’s economic lifeline.  Today, Venezuela’s oil shipments to the island amount to $2.5 billion per year. (54) With Venezuelan oil and the hard currency it can buy, Castro can bolster the Cuban economy and keep the revolution alive.  For Chávez, a young and relatively inexperienced statesman up against a powerful opposition, the expertise offered by Castro in running a social revolution and managing political turmoil was invaluable. In addition, as Wikileaks recently disclosed, Castro sent Chávez many, many spies. Borrowing from the Cuban system, Chávez has begun national police force whose top advisor is Cuban.  And in 2005, Cuba was given a contract to “update” Venezuela’s identification card system.  This, combined with a strong Cuban presence in immigration and the oil sector, has many Venezuelans worried about increased state surveillance and repression. (55)

But surely even more rapturous for Castro was that a new Cuban-Venezuelan alliance finally meant that the revolution could once again expand! Here, at last, was Castro’s beachhead into South America. Now in his twilight, the inroads that he had tried to accomplish through armed revolt since the 1960s—in Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela—had come to him through the Venezuelan ballot box.

And inroads he has made.  Since Chávez took office in 1999, Latin America has seen a dramatic shift to the left. Today the leaders of Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and El Salvador are not simply left, they are pro-Castro and pro-Chávez left. At the acceptance speech of El Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes in March 2009, supporters waved Venezuelan flags and Funes’s first act as president was to restore political ties with Cuba.

Most emblematic of the historic shift was a ceremony held in Venezuela in June 2006 to commemorate the 39th anniversary of Cuba’s failed invasion at the beach Machurucuto.  The Venezuelan military held a reenactment of the invasion and erected a memorial in honor of Castro’s security chief, Briones Montoto, now considered a fallen comrade not a foreign invader. (56)

The Three Prisoners

In the end, Luis Miquilena did not stay with Hugo Chávez.  After spending most of his life fighting for socialism, he eventually abandoned “the cause.” (Now even he is labeled anti-revolutionary.) On April 11th, 2002 a massive anti-Chávez rally, which some estimated at almost a million people, marched on Chávez’s palace to press for his resignation.  Here Chávez’s deep understanding of planning coup d’états proved to be his undoing.  Fearful that his enemies in the military would use his low popularity to launch a coup (just as he had done in 1992 against Carlos Andrés Pérez), Chávez did two fateful things.

First, he commanded the army to stop the march—an illegal order since Chávez’s own 1999 constitution strictly prohibited using the military against civilians, a clause added to prevent a recurrence of a 1989 incident when the army did massacre hundreds of people. In response to the order, Chávez’s three top generals—Rincón, Rosendo, and Vásquez, all handpicked for their loyalty—refused. (57)

Second, Chávez authorized his militia groups—the Bolivarian Circles—to stop the march, which they did with gunfire.  Damning video footage of some of the gunmen along with photographic evidence of others outraged a large swath of Venezuelan society.  After the dust had settled, Miquilena addressed the nation. “I solemnly declare that it is very difficult that a government of this nature could ever count on the possibility of help on my part,” he said.   He added that the regime “had ended up stained in blood,” and that to sit by and not take action against what Chávez was doing was both cowardly and criminal. (58) It was a crushing defection for Chávez as Miquilena’s departure meant that large chunks of both the legislature and the Supreme Court—more loyal to Miquilena than to Chávez—abandoned the president. 

Ponce_old Miquilena_old Petkoff_old

Guillermo García Ponce

Carolina Jimenez / El Universal

Luis Miquilena

Felix Gerardi / El Universal

Teodoro Petkoff

Courtesy of Teodoro Petkoff


Chávez himself, afraid that rebelling generals were preparing to attack the palace, turned himself over to the military, saying that he was willing to resign if guaranteed safe passage to Cuba.  Chávez’s advisors even announced his resignation to the public.

What came next is still hotly debated.  Chávez would insist that he never actually signed his resignation; while the military insisted that he did. Into this power vacuum stepped some of the most radical elements of the opposition—a group of wealthy oil men headed by business leader Pedro Carmona.  These men would convince the army leadership to let them lead an interim government that would prepare for new elections, but once in power they summarily dissolved all of Venezuela’s democratic institutions—the legislature, supreme court, the attorney general’s office, etc.—effectively setting up a dictatorship.  Realizing that the cure to Chávez was likely worse than Chávez himself, both anti-Chávez and pro-Chávez groups began to protest.

One of the men pivotal in rescuing Chávez (and by extension the revolution) was Guillermo García Ponce. Despite the defection of his friend Luis Miquilena, García Ponce remained loyal to Chávez.  He worked with Chávez’s brother Adán to get their messages to the international press; he mobilized the Bolivarian Circles to protest outside the military bases and the presidential palace (some say he also ordered them to loot and burn to create havoc); and with the help of General Baduel and a group of military leaders, he forced the interim president to resign. (59) Within 48 hours of turning himself over to the military, Chávez found himself once again in the presidential palace.

That’s how it stayed: Miquilena on the outside, confident that Chávez “has gotten in bed with the failed left.” (60) (Today many Venezuelans refer to Miquilena as “Dr. Frankenstein,” the man who created a monster he couldn’t control.)  García Ponce remained ever loyal to Chavez until his death last September at the age of 84. 

And what of the third prisoner from the San Carlos stockade, Teodoro Petkoff?

Petkoff—who now advocates a moderate democratic socialism—was a fierce opponent of Hugo Chávez from the beginning. As the editor of the Caracas daily, Tal Cual, Petkoff makes sure his opinions are heard.  Chávez’s other political opponents have a peculiar habit of being arrested or finding it necessary to flee the country. This was the case with Chávez’s contender in the 2006 election, former governor Manuel Rosales. Several weeks after Hugo Chávez said that he wanted Rosales in jail, the former governor was indeed charged with corruption (a charge Rosales insists is baseless).  Rosales subsequently fled to Peru where he now lives in exile.

But Chávez tends to leave Petkoff alone, likely because of his status as a former guerrilla. Petkoff admits that sometimes he worries about being the victim of political violence, but over protests from friends and family he refuses to use bodyguards. “I suspect that Chávez protects me [from the more radical elements of his party] because he knows it wouldn’t be convenient to have me beaten or killed.” (62) Concerning his time as a guerrilla, Petkoff says “It was the Castro effect; that’s what dazzled us,” referring to the dramatic way that Castro seized power in Cuba was inspiring groups around the world. (63) But by the end of the decade he had decided it was a very big mistake.

Perhaps Petkoff’s final impact on the life of Hugo Chávez has yet to be written.  In a country as polarized as Venezuela, many feel that Petkoff could be the moderate voice that can bridge the gap between left and right.
And what does Petkoff think of his old comrades, Miquilena and García Ponce?  He holds Luis Miquilena in very high esteem and considers him a dear friend.  He is less enthusiastic about Guillermo García Ponce. “Miquilena left Chávez because he disagreed with the undemocratic ways of the government.  García Ponce stayed because he was a leathery old Stalinist who sincerely believed that the revolution could only be done through dictatorship.  Indeed, I think he complained that the government did not use a heavy enough hand.” 

And that is the lesson of the three prisoners: there is the left, and there is the left. In degrees of radicalism there is the left of Petkoff, the left of Miquilena, the left of García Ponce, and the left of Carlos the Jackal.  There is democratic socialism and there is Bolivarian Socialism. Hugo Chávez was initially indoctrinated not by the more moderate communist leaders, but by their most militant leader Douglas Bravo and, later, by Guillermo García Ponce and Fidel Castro—men who believe that the revolution must move forward no matter the cost; that the rule of law and human rights are secondary to “the cause;” that the ends justify the means.  Petkoff and Miquilena, on the other hand reached a point and said “enough is enough.” There were lines they would not cross.


It is worth noting that when Petkoff made his famous escape in 1967 with García Ponce, it was not his first


Teodoro Petkoff

time to do so.  He had escaped before, in 1963, in an even more ingenious manner.  Petkoff’s wife smuggled him a half liter bag of blood which Petkoff drank.  He then proceeded to wail in agony, declaring that he had a stomach hemorrhage.  On cue, he vomited up blood first for the prison guards, then the paramedics, and finally, after he had been taken to a local hospital, for the doctors. “The medic at the prison was the hardest to convince,” Petkoff recalls. “At first he didn’t believe me.  So the next time he leaned in close, I threw up on him. Then he called for an ambulance.”  Even though the doctors at the hospital could find no evidence of any hemorrhage, Petkoff was allowed to stay 48 hours for observation.  With the help of some accomplices including a “pregnant” woman who smuggled him some rope, Petkoff shaved his beard, dressed himself in a three-piece-suit, lowered himself six stories from his window to the courtyard, then proceeded to walk out the front of the hospital saying buenas noches to the armed guards along the way. (61)


Grand Designs

So where, exactly, is the Bolivarian Revolution going? What is the “cause and the mission?” And how much should we worry about Chávez?  After all, building a strong alliance with Cuba is not a crime. Nor is being a socialist, a communist, or a Marxist.  And Venezuela—with 31 percent of its population in poverty—could certainly use a little income redistribution. (64) But one gets the very strong impression that much is being hidden.  The more Chávez insists that the new fighter jets, the attack helicopters, and the AK-47s are just upgrades; the more he says he needs a nuclear reactor to solve the country’s energy issues (in a country that gets 72 percent of its electricity from a single hydroelectric dam), and the more he says a million-man militia is necessary to defend against an immanent U.S. invasion, the more uneasy one gets. (65)

So what is being hidden?  What are the grand designs of a state that—20 years after the Cold War—believes it is still fighting it?

Opinions here differ, but military strategists point out that Chávez’s policies are textbook asymmetrical warfare—the strategy that uses every available method, including propaganda, foreign aid, and overt and covert military action to gain political influence. (66)  Critics point to Chávez’s arms buildup as well as a host of other actions to support their claim: Chávez has set up six TV stations—five domestic and one international—to broadcast his ideological message. He is selling oil to other nations at deep discounts to gain political leverage. He is aiding the Colombian FARC in the hopes that they will eventually gain power in Colombia. (67) He has given generous financial support to Evo Morales in Bolivia, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, and Mauricio Funes in El Salvador, (as well as the mysterious suitcase containing $800,000 for Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s 2007 election campaign). (68) Finally, critics argue that the economic bloc that ALBA would create is just the first step in a new union of socialist republics. They contend that it is all a concerted plan to spread the revolution across Latin America in a sort of “super insurgency.” (69)

But is this really Chávez’s plan?

Chávez’s aid to the Colombian FARC certainly bolsters this theory.

Shortly after Chávez took office, FARC training camps began to pop up in Venezuelan territory. A camp known as Resumidero was built with 100 huts, and another, called Asamblea was built with 25 houses and internet access.  (If one tries to look at the guerrilla camps on Google Earth, they will find the area blacked out at the request of the Chávez government.)  It was soon reported that Chávez was directing the military to help the guerrillas—supplying ammunition for their raids into Colombia as well as issuing them Venezuelan identity cards to allow them free rein within Venezuela.  My sources tell me that Chávez’s own militia groups—the Bolivarian Circles—were even sent to the camps to receive training from the guerrillas.

Then, on March 1, 2008 a hard drive captured in a raid on a FARC camp showed that Chávez planned to give the group $300 million. (70) The files also showed the long history Chávez has had with the revolutionary left: Chávez had received $150,000 from the FARC while in jail in 1992. (71)  The files also indicated that the FARC were collaborating with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Bolivian President Evo Morales.  The files spoke of a planned “FARC summit” which all these leaders hoped to attend. (72)  Suddenly, the idea of a “super insurgency” was not so far fetched.

What’s more, it was suddenly clear why Chávez was so much more adroit at negotiating the release of FARC hostages than any foreign government or NGO.  In one hostage release, Chávez’s personal emissary to the FARC, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, embraced the guerrillas and told them to “keep up the struggle.” (73)

After the hard drive scandal, Chávez denied any involvement, even though it appears that he had been directly involved: the Colombian military says it located the FARC camp by intercepting a call from Chávez to FARC leader Raúl Reyes, who was killed in the attack. (74) Chávez’s immediate reaction was to move ten battalions to the Colombian border, a move that puzzled many since the raid had occurred in Ecuador.  Some speculated that it was to protect the FARC camps within Venezuela from a similar attack. (75)

At a Latin American summit a few days later, Chávez insisted he had no connection to the guerrillas.  “I could have sent plenty of rifles to the FARC,” he said, “I will never do it, ever.”  A month later Chávez had some explaining to do when a Venezuelan officer was arrested with forty thousand AK-47 bullets that he was allegedly taking to the guerrillas. (76) Chávez then seemed to make a radical reversal, all but apologizing and saying that the FARC should disband because the armed struggle was “out of place.”

Many found Chávez’s sudden change of heart hard to believe. Indeed, it appears that there was no change of heart at all.  In the summer of 2009, a captured series of emails within the FARC secretariat showed that the support from the Venezuela government had not abated.  One deal, brokered again by Chávez emissary Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, was to transfer sniper rifles, surface-to-air missiles and radios to the FARC last July.  (77)

Yet many are dubious of Chávez’s “super insurgency.” Indeed, the closer one looks at the Chávez record, the more it feels like Chávez’s grand designs are not grand designs at all, but rather a jejune hodgepodge of initiatives (many of which amount to nothing) than a Machiavellian plan for world domination. 

This is, after all, a government fraught with levels of waste, mismanagement and corruption that far eclipse its predecessors: A government that “lost” 51 billion dollars from a slush fund in 2009 (that’s a little over half the 2009 federal budget) and has burned up the windfall oil profits from the 2003-2008 oil boom. A country that is experiencing rolling electrical blackouts despite having the most natural resources per acre in the hemisphere. (78) A country where National Guard troops must guard the milk in supermarkets because of the government’s bizarre price control system.  A country whose nationalized oil company has nearly trebled its number of employees to 90,000 workers (mostly due to political patronage), yet whose production, OPEC reports, is 30 percent below what it claims to be, forcing it to buy oil from Russia to meet its contractual obligations. (79) And, finally, a country that is showing serious signs of social hemorrhaging, best illustrated by its jagged increase in violent crime.  Under Chávez the murder rate has more than doubled, and Caracas has now been christened the murder capital of the world (130 murders per 100,000 at the official rate, 160 murders per 100,000 according to independent sources). (80)

Given the FUBAR of Chávez’s domestic policy, it is hard to look at his foreign policy and see him as the plotting mastermind, wringing his hands together.  But the gap between his domestic policy and foreign policy is again illuminated by his identity as a revolutionary.  While most people think of Hugo Chávez as the President of Venezuela, that is not how the president thinks of himself.  Chávez’s first priority is to be the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, a project that is much bigger than being the president of Venezuela.  Bigger because Chávez sees himself as part of an international movement against capitalism.  As fantastic as it may seem to us, he sincerely believes that he can lead a global socialist revolution along the lines that Marx predicted; that he can create a global power to rival the old Soviet Union.  This is why Chávez connects with nations like Bolivia, Nicaragua, Iran, and Russia and groups like the FARC. It is why he identifies with Carlos the Jackal.

This is also why he will continue to focus on international expansion, even while he is neglecting Venezuela.  The irony, of course, is that Chávez’s disdain for capitalism means that he has shot his revolution in the foot.  Indeed, Chávez has turned back the clock on Venezuela’s development in many ways, principally by ignoring Venezuela’s most important economic goal—weaning the country off its dependency on oil revenues.  In any petro-state the goal must be to diversify the economy away from oil dependence, that way it will not be at the whim of the global market—and, by extension, the developed world.  When Hugo Chávez was elected in 1998, Venezuela derived 64 percent of its export revenue from oil.  Yet despite the massive profits from the 2003-2008 oil boom and a historic opportunity to diversify the economy, it is now less diversified than ever and relies on oil for 92 percent of its export revenue. (81)  Chávez’s price control programs have driven hundreds of domestic enterprises out of business, while his nationalization and expropriation of other enterprises has caused massive capital flight.  Experts comment that other than oil, Venezuela now exports virtually nothing.  As a result, the country continues to slide downward into recession (its economy contracted 2.9 percent last year) while the rest of Latin America is now pulling itself up. (82) (83)  Ironically, Chávez’s unwavering loyalty to revolutionary ideology means that the very engine of the revolution is in serious risk of spluttering to a halt.  If he cannot keep it going, then he will find himself in Castro’s position, the president of a bankrupt country that some may sympathize with, but few will envy. 

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30. Gunson, Phil, “International terrorist called Miami home in 1961,” The Miami Herald 12 December 2003.

31. Brewer, Jerry. “Global Terrorism has Key Roots in Latin America.” 4 December  2006.  <>  Accessed on 10 March 2007.

32. Brewer, Jerry, op. cit.

33. Reyes, Gerardo, “El Chacal, preso mimado de Venezuela.” El Nuevo Herald.  19 February 2002.

34. Anecdote about botched assassination of Joseph Sieff: Follain, John. Jackal: The Complete Story of the Legendary Terrorist, Carlos the Jackal. Arcade Publishing. New York. 1998. P. xvii.

35. Carlos’s connections to his various sponsors is shown throughout Follain’s text, but most notably between P. 100 and 129.  Follain, John. op cit.

36. Brewer, Jerry, op. cit.

37. “…bombed a shopping …man’s skull).” Follain, John. op cit.

38. Follain, Jackal. op. cit. 138-154.

39.  Follain. Jackal. Op cit. 79.

40. Follain. Jackal. Op cit. 216-218.

41. Follain. Jackal. Op cit. 216-218.

42. Gunson, Phil, “International terrorist called Miami home in 1961,” The Miami Herald. 12 December 2003

43. Gunson, op. cit.

44. Converted to Islam and ''lofty feat of arms.'': Romero, Simon, “Chávez Offers Public Defense Of 'the Jackal'” The New York Times.  November 22, 2009.

45. Romero, Simon, “Chávez Offers ..." op cit..

46. Indeed, some believe that Chávez’s praise of the Jackal wins him easy points radical Islam: Author’s Email Interview, Teodoro Petkoff, Caracas, Venezuela. December 22, 2009.

47. Vernaschi, Marco, “The Cocaine Coast,” The Virginia Quarterly Review, Winter 2010. <<>> (accessed 3 February 2010).

48. Farah, Douglas. “The Growing Terrorism Challenges From Latin America.” International Assessment and Strategy Center. 18 February 2007. <> (Accessed 2 February 2010)

49. Marcano, Cristina and Barrera Tyszka, Alberto. Hugo Chávez: The Definitive Biography of Venezuela’s Controversial President. Random House. New York. 2006. P. 213.

50.  six months in Colombia: Noguera, Jose. Chavez's early ties with the FARC and ELN. CSP Security Forum. Mar 23, 2008. <<
>> (11 November 2008)

51. Marcano and Barrera, op. cit. P. 214.

52. Marcano and Barrera, op. cit. P. 219.

53. “For me, Fidel is like a father”: Anderson. Op. cit.

54. “2.5 billion per year.” Anderson, John. “Fidel’s Heir.” The New Yorker. 23 June 2008. P. 51.

55. Borrowing from the Cuban system…. immigration and the oil sector. : “’Venecuba’, a single nation,” The Economist. 13 February 2010. P. 40.

56. Verlezza, Ricardo. “Homenaje a cubano caido en la invasion cubana comunista en 1967 a Venezuela.” Aporrea y Diario La Voz. 20 July 2006.

57. While it is widely known that Generals Rosendo and Vásquez refused to implement Plan Avila, General Rincón (who would remain in the administration after the “coup”) also refused, as stated by Chávez himself while in captivity. 

58. “That to sit by and not take action against what Chávez was doing was both cowardly and criminal.” :  “Miquilena: No quiero mi nombre vinculado a un gobierno manchado de sangre,” El Nacional, 12 April 2002.

59. García Ponce, Guillermo. El Golpe del 11 de Abril. Segundo Edición. Instituto Municipal de Publicaciones de la Alcaldía de Caracas. Caracas. 2002.  P. 45-48.

60. Marcano and Barrera, op. cit. P. 22.

61. “Petkoff had escaped…along the way.” : Garcia Ponce, La fuga, op cit. p. 63-68.

62. “I suspect that Chávez protects me [from the more radical elements of his part] because he knows it wouldn’t be convenient to have me beaten or killed.”Author’s Email Interview, Teodoro Petkoff, Caracas, Venezuela. December 22, 2009.

63. “It was the Castro effect,” Petkoff recalls, “that’s what dazzled us”: Author’s Email Interview, Teodoro Petkoff, Caracas, Venezuela. December 22, 2009.

64. 31 percent poverty.  Statistics on Venezuela’s poverty rates vary dramatically from study to study.  Thirty one percent is the figure for 2007, the most recent available, by Universidad Central Andrés Bello, Caracas using “Line of Poverty Method.” Ponce Zubillaga, María Gabriela. “La Pobreza en Venezuela: Mediciones y Diversidad.” Facultad de Ciencias Económincas y Sociales. Instituto de Investigacionees Ciencias Económincas y Sociales, Caracas Venezuela, 30 July 2009.

65. 72 percent of its electricity: Wilson, Peter, “Lights Out in Venezuela” Business Week, June 5, 2008. <

66. Manwaring, Max G., “Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, Bolivarian Socialism, and Asymmetrical Warfare,” Strategic Studies Institute. U.S. Army War College, (Carlisle, PA: DOD, 2005), 9-13.

67. Robinson, Linda, “Terror Close to Home,”  U.S. News and World Report, 6 October 2003, 20.

68. Hakim, Peter, “Is Washington Losing Latin America?” Foreign Affairs, 85. No. 1, January/February 2006, 43.

69. “super insurgency.”: Manwaring, op cit.

70. given the group $300 million: "Ecuador: Colombian raid prevented release of captives,", March 3, 2008
<>(accessed on 16 December 2008).

71. O’Grady, Mary Anastasia, “The FARC Files,” The Wall Street Journal, 10 March 2008. Page A14

72. O’Grady. Op cit.

73. Anderson, op cit. 53.

74. O’Grady. Op cit.

75. Kraul, Chris. “Colombia crisis appears to be easing.” The Los Angeles Times. 6 March 2008. A-4.

76. ““I could have sent plenty of rifles to the FARC” … smuggling to the guerillas.” Anderson, op cit. P. 56.

77. Romero, Simon. “Evidence Shows Venezuelan Aid to Rebel Group.” The New York Times.  3 August 2009. P. A1, A11.

78. “Venezuela Faces Risk of Devastating Power Collapse.” New York Times.
9 January 2010.  <> (accessed 19 January 2010)

79. 75,000 workers (mostly due to political patronage), yet whose production, OPEC reports, is 30 percent below what it claims to be: Simpkins, Jason. “Venezuela’s Oil Production Squeezed by Chavez’s Heavy Hand.”
Money Morning.  13 May 2009  <<>> (accessed 19 January 2010).

80. “The List: Murder Capitals of the World.” Foreign Policy. September 2008. <<>> (accessed 19 January 2010)

81. Export revenue figures: “Socialism with cheap oil,” The Economist, 3 January 2009. P. 26.

82. fall the sharpest…recover the slowest: “Pain but not panic,” The Economist, 2 May 2009, P. 37.

83. contracted 2.9 percent last year: ”The weakening of the ‘strong bolívar’” The Economist.  14 Jan 2010.<> (accessed 21 January 2010)



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