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The Strange Death of Hugo Chavez: An Interview with Eva Golinger
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“Hugo Chavez defied the most powerful interests, and he refused to bow down….I believe there is a very strong possibility that President Chavez was assassinated.”

— Eva Golinger

MW– Do you think that Hugo Chavez was murdered and, if so, who do you think might have been involved?

Eva Golinger– I believe there is a very strong possibility that President Chavez was assassinated. There were notorious and documented assassination attempts against him throughout his presidency. Most notable was the April 11, 2002 coup d’etat, during which he was kidnapped and set to be assassinated had it not been for the unprecedented uprising of the Venezuelan people and loyal military forces that rescued him and returned him to power within 48 hours. I was able to find irrefutable evidence using the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), that the CIA and other US agencies were behind that coup and supported, financially, militarily and politically, those involved. Later on, there were other attempts against Chavez and his government, such as in 2004 when dozens of Colombian paramilitary forces were captured on a farm outside of Caracas that was owned by an anti-Chavez activist, Robert Alonso, just days before they were going to attack the presidential palace and kill Chavez.

There was another, lesser-known plot against Chavez discovered in New York City during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2006. According to information provided by his security services, during standard security reconnaissance of an event where Chavez would address the US public at a local, renowned university, high levels of radiation were detected in the chair where he would have sat. The radiation was discovered by a Geiger detector, which is a handheld radiation detection device the presidential security used to ensure the President wasn’t in danger of exposure to harmful rays. In this case, the chair was removed and subsequent tests showed it was emanating unusual amounts of radiation that could have resulted in significant harm to Chavez had it gone undiscovered. According to accounts by the presidential security at the event, an individual from the US who had been involved in the logistical support for the event and had provided the chair was shown to be acting with US intelligent agents.

There were numerous other attempts on his life that were thwarted by the Venezuelan intelligence agencies and particularly the counterintelligence unit of the Presidential Guard that was charged with discovering and impeding such threats. One other well known attempt was in July 2010 when Francisco Chavez Abarca (no relation), a criminal working with Cuban-born terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, responsible for bombing a Cuban airliner in 1976 and killing all 73 passengers on board, was detained entering Venezuela and later confessed he had been sent to assassinate Chavez. Just five months earlier, in February 2010, when President Chavez was at an event near the Colombian border, his security forces discovered a sniper set up just over a quarter of a mile away from his location, who was subsequently neutralized.

While these accounts may sound like fiction, they are amply documented and very real. Hugo Chavez defied the most powerful interests, and he refused to bow down. As head of state of the nation without the largest oil reserves on the planet, and as someone who openly and directly challenged US and Western domination, Chavez was considered an enemy of Washington and its allies.

So, who could have been involved in Chavez’s assassination, if he was assassinated? Certainly it’s no far stretch to imagine the US government involved in a political assassination of an enemy it clearly – and openly – wanted out of the picture. In 2006, the US government formed a special Mission Manager for Venezuela and Cuba under the Directorate of National Intelligence. This elite intelligence unit was charged with expanding covert operations against Chavez and led clandestine missions out of an intelligence fusion center (CIA-DEA-DIA) in Colombia. Some of the pieces that have been coming together include the discovery of several close aides to Chavez who had private, unobstructed access to him over prolonged periods, who fled the country after his death and are collaborating with the US government. If he were assassinated by some kind of exposure to high levels of radiation, or otherwise inoculated or infected by a cancer-causing virus, it would have been done by someone with close access to him, whom he trusted.

MW– Who is Leamsy Salazar and how is he connected to the US Intelligence Agencies?

Eva Golinger– Leamsy Salazar was one of Chavez’s closest aides for nearly seven years. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Venezuelan Navy and became known to Chavez after he waved the Venezuelan flag from the roof of the presidential guard’s barracks at the presidential palace during the 2002 coup, as the rescue of Chavez was underway. He became a symbol of the loyal armed forces that helped defeat the coup and Chavez rewarded him by bringing him on as one of his assistants. Salazar was both a bodyguard and an aide to Chavez, who would bring him coffee and meals, stand by his side, travel with him around the world and protect him during public events. I knew him and interacted with him many times. He was one of the familiar faces protecting Chavez for many years. He was a key member of Chavez’s elite inner security circle, with private access to Chavez and privileged and highly confidential knowledge of Chavez’s comings and goings, daily routine, schedule and dealings.

After Chavez passed away in March 2013, because of his extended service and loyalty, Leamsy was transferred to the security detail of Diosdado Cabello, who was then president of Venezuela’s National Assembly and considered one of the most powerful political and military figures in the country. Cabello was one of Chavez’s closest allies. It should be noted that Leamsy remained with Chavez throughout most of his illness up to his death and had privileged access to him that few had, even from his security team.

Shockingly, in December 2014, news reports revealed that Leamsy had secretly been flown to the US from Spain, where he was allegedly on vacation with his family. The plane that flew him was said to be from the DEA. He was placed in witness protection and news reports have stated he is providing information to the US government about Venezuelan officials involved in a high level ring of drug trafficking. Opposition-owned media in Venezuela claim he gave details accusing Diosdado Cabello of being a drug-kingpin, but none of that information has been independently verified, nor have any court records or allegations been released, if they exist.

Another explanation for his going into the witness protection program in the US could include his involvement in the assassination of Chavez, possibly done as part of a CIA black op, or maybe even done under the auspices of CIA but carried out by corrupt elements within the Venezuelan government. Before the Panama Papers were released, I had accidentally discovered and was investigating a dangerous corrupt, high level individual within the government, who Chavez had previously dismissed, but who returned after his death and was placed in an even more influential, powerful position. This individual also appears to be collaborating with the US government. People like that, who let greed obscure their conscience, and who are involved in lucrative criminal activity, could have also played a role in his death.

For example, the Panama Papers exposed another former Chavez aide, Army Captain Adrian Velasquez, who was in charge of security for Chavez’s son Hugo. Captain Velasquez’s wife, a former Navy Officer, Claudia Patricia Diaz Guillen, was Chavez’s nurse for several years and had private, unsupervised access to him. Furthermore, Claudia administered medicines, shots and other health and food-related materials to Chavez over a period of years. Just one month before his deadly illness was discovered in 2011, Chavez named Claudia as Treasurer of Venezuela, placing her in charge of the country’s money. It’s still unclear as to why she was named to this important position, considering she had previously been his nurse and had no similar experience. She was dismissed from the position right after Chavez passed away. Both Captain Velasquez and Claudia appeared in the Panama Papers as owning a shell company with millions of dollars. They also own property in an elite area in the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana, where properties cost in the millions, and they have resided there since at least June 2015. The documents show that right after Chavez passed away and Nicolas Maduro was elected president in April 2013, Captain Velasquez opened an off-shore company on April 18, 2013 through the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonesca, called Bleckner Associates Limited. A Swiss financial investment firm, V3 Capital Partners LLC, affirmed they manage the funds of Captain Velasquez, which number in the millions. It’s impossible for an Army Captain to have earned that amount of money through legitimate means. Neither him nor his wife, Claudia, have returned to Venezuela since 2015.

Captain Velasquez was especially close with Leamsy Salazar.

MW– Can you explain the suspicious circumstances under which Salazar was flown out of Spain to the safety of the United States on a plane belonging to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)? Doesn’t that strike you as a bit strange? At the very least, this suggests that Salazar was acting as an agent for a country that is openly hostile towards Venezuela? That makes him either a collaborator or a traitor. Do you agree?

Eva Golinger– Of course it was highly suspicious that Salazar was flown out of Spain, where he was allegedly on vacation with his family, and taken to the United States on a DEA plane. There is no question that he was collaborating with the US government and betrayed his country. What remains to be seen is what his exact role was. Did he administer the murderous poison to Chavez, or was it one of his partners, such as Captain Velasquez or the nurse/treasurer Claudia?

While this all may sound very conspiracy theory-ish, these are facts that can be verified independently. It is also true, according to declassified secret US documents, that the US Army was developing an injectable radiation weapon to use for political assassinations of select enemies as far back as 1948. The Church Commission hearings into the Kennedy Assassination also uncovered the existence of an assassination weapon developed by CIA to induce heart attacks and soft-tissue cancers. Chavez died of an aggressive soft-tissue cancer. By the time it was detected it was too late. There is other information out there documenting the development of a “cancer virus” that was going to be weaponized and allegedly used to kill Fidel Castro in the 1960s. I know most of that seems like science fiction, but do your research and see what really exists. I don’t believe everything I read either. As a lawyer and investigative journalist, I need hard evidence, and multiple, verifiable sources. Even if we just go on the official US Army document from 1948, it’s a fact that the US government was in the process of a developing a radiation weapon for political assassinations. More than 60 years later we can only imagine what technological capacities exist.

MW– Can you explain why the DEA was involved in this operation and not the CIA as many would expect?

Eva Golinger– I think CIA was involved. They work together on high-profile political cases, and they were operating out of the Intelligence Fusion Center in Colombia together. Why it was DEA and not CIA that brought Leamsy Salazar to the US has not yet been revealed, but I don’t think that means the CIA wasn’t involved in the whole operation.

MW– On a personal note, Hugo Chavez was a giant among men and a real hero. Would you please tell us what his loss has meant to you personally and how his death has impacted the people of Venezuela?

Eva Golinger– The loss of Hugo Chavez has been crushing. He was my friend and I spent nearly ten years as his advisor. The void he has left is impossible to replace. Despite his human flaws, he had a huge heart and genuinely dedicated himself to build a better country for his people, and a better world for humanity. He cared deeply about all people, but especially the poor, neglected and marginalized.

There is a picture taken of Chavez by a bystander, when he had been at an event in the center of Caracas and was walking through a large plaza that had been cleared by security. All of a sudden, he saw a young man, disheveled and seemingly on drugs, barely able to keep himself upright, wearing ragged clothes. To the horror of his security guards, Chavez went over to him and lovingly put his arm around him and offered him a cup of coffee. He didn’t judge the poor guy or reprimand him, or show disgust. He treated him like a fellow human being who deserved to be seen with dignity. He stayed there with him for a while, just telling stories and chatting like old friends. When he had to go, he told one of his guards to offer the man whatever help he needed.

There were no cameras there, no TV, no public. It wasn’t a publicity stunt. It was genuine, sincere care and concern for a fellow human in need. Despite being president and a powerful head of state, Chavez always saw himself as an equal to all people.

His unexpected death has had a tragic toll on Venezuela. Sadly, those he left in charge have been unable to manage the country through this difficult times. A combination of corruption and external sabotage by opposition forces (with foreign support) has crippled the economy. Mismanagement has been widespread and destructive. US agencies and their allies in Venezuela have seized the opportunity to further destabilize and destroy all remaining remnants of chavismo. Now they are trying to tarnish and erase Chavez’s legacy, but I believe this is an impossible task. Even if the current government doesn’t survive the vicious attacks against it, Chavez’s memory in the millions of people he impacted and improved the lives of, will weather the storm. “Chavismo” has become an ideology founded on principles of social justice and human dignity. But do people miss him terribly? Yes.

Eva Golinger is winner of the International Award for Journalism in Mexico (2009), named “La Novia de Venezuela” by President Hugo Chávez, is an Attorney and Writer from New York, living in Caracas, Venezuela since 2005 and author of the best-selling books, “The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela” (2006 Olive Branch Press), “Bush vs. Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela” (2007, Monthly Review Press)

Since 2003, Eva has been investigating, analyzing and writing about US intervention in Venezuela using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain information about US Government efforts to undermine progressive movements in Latin America.

A version of this interview appeared on Telesur at: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Golinger-Chavez-Assassination-Attempts-Documented-Very-Real-20160413-0025.html

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

(Republished from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Assassinations, Hugo Chavez 
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  1. B.R. says:

    Amazing, US doing something right for a change.

  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    This is an excellent website. Thanks for posting such a great piece of investigative journalism. Hugo Chavez’s death has *always* looked suspicious, to those of us in the Independent Media. This interview further corroborates our stance…

  3. Immigrant from former USSR [AKA "Florida Resident"] says:

    I have no information about life and death of Hugo Chavez, about his policies, and about the involvement (or absence thereof) of the USA.

    I want everybody to spend some time thinking about indigenous population of Venezuela, and of South America in general. Yes, they have IQ lower than IQ of people of Asian or European descent. Does it mean we want them to die out, to disappear, leaving land and resources (e.g. like oil) to high-IQ people ?
    Government of Chile has special program to support people identifying themselves as Mapuche people, see
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_peoples_in_Chile

    Think about it: US Environmental Protection Agency makes special regulations that some particular little fish not only just does not go extinct, but does not loose particular areal of habitation.
    Can we at least think about areal of habitation of indigenous peoples of South America ?
    We do not have to invite them to USA, do not have to open Affirmative Actin slots for them.
    But at least do not grab their land.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  4. anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Immigrant from former USSR

    The Seminole tribe agrees!

  5. The Cuban doctors who treated Chavez are top cancer doctors. They probably know the probability of Chavez having been poisoned. I know nothing of such things. I do know that for Chavez’ enemies, murder is a standard operating procedure.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  6. Rehmat says:

    Hugo Chavez was a true patriot and one of the great leaders of the true free world.

    Chavez once recalled a warning he received from Fidel Castro, saying: “Chavez take care. These (US-Israel) people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat – a little needle and they inject you with I don’t know what“.

    In March 2013, Chavez died at a Caracas military hospital. His second-in-command, Maduro just before Chavez death had claimed that Venezuela’s enemies afflicted Chavez with cancer which eventually took his life.

    Iranian president Dr. Ahmadinejad hailed his close ally for “serving the people of Venezuela and defending human and revolutionary values. He gave his life to the elevation of his country and the freedom of his people,” said Ahmadinejad in his condolence message to Venezuelan vice-president Nicolas Maduro.

    Chavez will be mourned by millions of Cubans and tens of thousands of Americans who used to receive free oil from him. He will also be missed by tens of millions of Palestinians, Lebanese, Libyans and Iranians who were supported by Chavez in their resistance US-Israel imperialism during the last decade. However, the greatest losers are Venezuelans and the rest of Latin Americans who lost the only leader who stood against the western imperial Ziofascism.

    In December 2009, like the TIME magazine and The Jewish Daily FORWARD – I also published a list of “World’s Top Independent Leaders”.

    https://rehmat1.com/2009/12/23/worlds-top-independent-leaders/

  7. Glad to meet you Rehmat. The truth about Chavez is seldom told in U.S. of A. I grow weary of people who denigrate Chavez and attribute Venezuela’s misery to a failure of Socialism. Venezuela did not jump. She was pushed.

    • Replies: @Michelle
  8. Hibernian says:
    @WorkingClass

    For Chavez’ friends, murder is standard operating procedure.

    FIFY.

    • Replies: @Hrw-500
  9. gig says:

    are you serious? take a look at Eva’s profile: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eva_Golinger

    and look what the government she supports has done to Venezuela. you can go to hell, Mike. Lenin would have called you a useful idiot at the service of the Bolivarian Revolution

    • Replies: @Rehmat
  10. Rehmat says:
    @gig

    Look at Dr. Daniel Pipes profile at Israeli Wikipedia and the foreign government the Zionist idiot supports.

    In October 2013, he claimed at the Washington Post that Muslims are posed to become a majority in Russia in the near future – from current 15% to 60%.

    In 2005 the lying filth had claimed: “Alcoholism-plagued ethnic Russians are said to have European birthrates and African death rates. Their women have on average 1.4 children, and their men have a life expectancy of 60 years. In Moscow, ethnic Christian women have 1.1 child. In contrast, Muslim women bear 2.3 children on average and have fewer abortions than their Russian counterparts. In Moscow, Tatar women have six children and Chechen and Ingush women have 10.”

    https://rehmat1.com/2013/12/06/daniel-pipes-russia-turning-islamic/

  11. Ben Gunn says:

    How about some footnotes to back up the claims

  12. Hrw-500 says:
    @Hibernian

    I go into Alex Jones’ conspiracies theories territory.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if (and it’s a big “if”) if it was Maduro who planned to get Chavez assassinated by poisonning him. Could Maduro was a bit impatient to be president of Venezuela and couldn’t wait?

    And there’s more coming down the drain. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-20/venezuela-launches-biggest-ever-military-exercise-history-preview-what-coming

  13. Michelle says:
    @WorkingClass

    Having a valuable natural resource to share amongst your people in a capitalistic fashion is a fabulous thing. You can pretend to be a leftist as much as you want, whilst engaging in massive capitalism. As long as it lasts. Chavez used to sell his oil to the US on the sly. Maduro does the same. I have no problem with it.

    • Replies: @Rehmat
    , @tsotha
  14. phil says:

    In the late 1970s, the degree of capitalism in China, as estimated by a consortium led by the Fraser Institute in Vancouver, was 4.0 on a scale from zero to 10. China’s average living standards, as measured by the World Bank, were on a par with Zaire, Kenya, and Mozambique. In the following 30 years China adopted the Open Door Policy and other reforms and the degree of capitalism increased by more than 50 percent. Average living standards multiplied by six.

    Under Chavez and now under Maduro, the degree of capitalism in Venezuela has now fallen below what it was in China in the late 1970s. Economically speaking, it is one of the most repressive regimes in the world. (North Korea, which had higher average living standards than China until about 1990, is more repressive and has, at times, experienced mass starvation. From 1958-61, China experienced the greatest famine in world history.)

    In Venezuela the government’s budget deficit is now more than 20 percent of GDP. Inflation is likely to top 500 percent this year. There are shortages of almost everything. It is reminiscent of the regime of Salvador Allende in Chile in the early 1970s. The military regime of Augusto Pinochet followed.

    Whether Maduro will be deposed remains to be seen. Average living standards are falling fast; they will soon fall below those in Mexico and China. Only oil in the range of $90-$100 per barrel had been propping up the Venezuelan economy. With the great fall in the price of oil, the Chavez-Maduro legacy is coming into sharper focus.

    Whitney’s response? Try to make a martyr out of Chavez.

  15. Rehmat says:
    @Michelle

    What’s wrong in selling oil to America or any other country if the price is right? At least Chavez was not offering young women to American politicians as is customary in case of Israel lobby groups that conduct all-expense-paid trips to American politicians including visits to Tel Aviv’s 280 Jewish brothels.

  16. Saber says:

    Eva Golinger, a long-time Chavista tool, is resorting to the Chavista playbook. The assassination attempt, a.k.a “magnicidio,” is long-standing Chavista narrative. The following links will flesh this out. Funny how there have been all those attempts, but arrests have been few and far between.

    http://venezuela-europa.blogspot.com/2011/12/chavicide-timeline.html

    http://venezuela-europa.blogspot.com/2014/05/killing-truth-in-venezuela-1001.html

    http://venezuela-europa.blogspot.be/2012/07/murder-attempts-against-chavez-again.html From 1999 on there have been about 2 reported attempts per year- but arrests, not so much.

  17. tsotha says:
    @Michelle

    The oil sales were all above board. The US is one of the few places that can refine Venezuelan crude due to the high density and sulphur content, and you can’t move millions of barrels of oil “on the sly”

  18. tsotha says:

    When a fat guy in his late 50s dies from colon cancer it’s not a sign of enemy action. Nobody knows how to actually give someone cancer in a time frame that would be politically relevant.

    It’s all very sad, really. With all that oil Venezuela should be a wealthy country, and it might have been with reasonable governance. On the other hand, both Chavez and Maduro were voted into office, so you can’t say the people of Venezuela aren’t getting what they deserve.

  19. gig says:

    @rehmat

    stop blaming the jews. the talk here is about Hugo Chávez and how a bolivarian stooge like this Eva girl is being presented as a neutral source

    as a Latin American, my very well being is threatened by idiots like you and the author who support, knowing or not, the Bolivarian Revolution

    since that you are both here doing Nicolás Maduro work, have you given a look at how Venezuela is doing right now? YOu may say the revolution is being sabotaged by the CIA… But if the CIA is so powerful, how come they don’t do the same with Russia?

    Venezuela is being destroyed by the government Venezuela and no one else.

  20. gig says:

    btw, America is so worried about oil that the USG decided to sell its strategic oil reserves, starting next October. the good old USA does not feel the need to hold oil reserves anymore and they should trend towards zero in the next 10 years

    Also, the crude oil export ban was reversed in 2015. So much for “US interests on Venezuelan oil”. the USA couldn’t care less about its own oil, specially with alternative enegies on the verge of disrupting the oil industry .

    The amazing stuff here is how moonbats took control of this website, supposedly a conservative one.

    And now we see people defending a communist revolutionary like Hugo Chávez and a government that is basically the most powerful drug cartel in the world, the “Cartel de los Soles”, “Cartel of the Suns”.

    Just as venezuela implodes and people start eating garbage, dogs and cats.

    but Hugo hated America, so he couldnt be a bad guy.

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