Venezuelan Right-Wing Opposition Figure Held on Terror Charges
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By Juan Reardon – Venezuelanalysis.com
San Francisco, July 15th, 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Yesterday, Venezuelan Minister for Internal Affairs Tarek El Aissami announced the arrest of opposition figure Alejandro Peña Esclusa after police supposedly found explosive materials in his home during a raid on Monday. The raid comes after the detention in Caracas last week of known Salvadorian terrorist Francisco Chávez Abarca who confessed to having been contracted by Luis Posada Carriles to carry out destabilizing acts in Venezuela in the run-up to the September national assembly elections.
The explosive materials allegedly found during the raid included 900 grams of C-4, electronic and thermal detonating devices and documents detailing plans for destabilizing Venezuela in the coming period, El Aissami said.
According to David Colmenares, Counterintelligence Director at the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), the court ordered raid on Peña Esclusa’s home was issued after the now-extradited Francisco Chávez Abarca provided information linking Peña Esclusa to destabilization plans.
Yesterday national assembly deputy Juan Mendoza, president of the assembly’s Committee on Defense, announced that Chávez Abarca had described plans to assassinate opposition deputy Pastora Medina (of the Frente Humanista or Humanist Front) in an attempt to provoke a political backlash from opposition forces. According to Mendoza, Chávez Abarca also spoke of plans to bomb a Caracas plaza during last Sunday’s world cup final.
Police arrested Pena Esclusa on Wednesday at the 6th Control Court, a criminal court in Caracas hearing terror cases. The judge, Luis Cabrera, ratified the decision by authorities to detain Peña on charges of possession of explosives and organized crime.
In response, Peña’s lawyers accused the courts of collaborating with an unlawful search of their client’s home, claiming they were not allowed to accompany police during the raid and therefore all evidence should be thrown out.
Indira de Peña, wife of Peña Esclusa, also accused police of planting the explosives in the couple’s home, stating that she had asked police to wait for Peña’s lawyers to arrive before allowing them in. “They began to pound on the door. Some of them removed their weapons. I thought of my daughters and decided to open the door, to prevent bad from getting worse,” Ms. Peña said.
Peña Esclusa is President of the Union of Democratic Organizations of the Americas, or UnoAmerica, one of the only organizations that celebrated the 2009 military coup in Honduras. In a July 10 2009 interview, Peña Esclusa was quoted as saying that “Only a process similar to that of Honduras can rescue democracy and freedom in Venezuela.” In November of last year the Honduran dictatorship of Roberto Micheletti decorated Esclusa with the order “José Cecilio del Valle” at a ceremony in which Micheletti himself presented Esclusa with the award.
He is also the founder of Fuerza Solidaria, or Solidarity Force, an opposition organization that claims to defend liberty, equal opportunity and solidarity in Venezuela and abroad. According to the organizations’ website, these values are, “incompatible with Castro-Communism, which is why Solidarity Force has directed its efforts at amplifying and organizing the resistance to the Cubanization of Venezuela.”
In response to Peña’s arrest, UnoAmerica has called for his immediate release and claims that his detention, “is part of a Cuban operation that looks to link opposition leaders with violent acts.”
In Honduras on Wednesday a small group of Peña supporters gathered outside the offices of the Organization of American States (OAS) to ask for the, “presence of God and the protection of Esclusa.” In Miami, Patricia Andrade of the Venezuela Awareness Foundation has denounced Esclusa’s arrest as, “a repressive wave to come in the run-up to the electoral process.”
In June 2009, Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Relations, Nicolás Maduro, described Peña Esclusa as a man that, “has spent his life tied to the CIA and numerous violent movements including the 2002 military coup [against president Hugo Chávez] and a member of violent right-wing groups that moved about Central America for long periods alongside Luis Posada Carriles, a terrorist protected by the North American justice system and wanted in Venezuelan.”
Colmenares confirmed that more raids are expected as authorities continue their follow-up on information provided by Chávez Abarca.