>– Israel Frets Russia Will Make Good on 2007 Contract, Evade UN Sanctions by Delivering S-300 Anti-Missile System to Iran Via Venezuela
Pictured here: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez consoles Argentine counterpart Cristina Kirchner at the wake of her husband, the late President Nestor Kirchner, in Buenos Aires, on October 28, 2010.
The descent of Venezuela into the hellhole of Bolivarian communism continued last week with the kidnapping and attempted murder of Venezuelan business leaders who are outspoken critics of President Hugo Chavez’s nationalization drive.
On Thursday, October 28 gunmen in Caracas opened fire on a car carrying leaders of Venezuela’s national business federation Fedecamaras, wounding one of them before hijacking the vehicle. Noel Alvarez, president of Fedecamaras, and Albis Munoz, a former president of the same organization, were in the hijacked vehicle. Alvarez relates his ordeal: “When we braked, they began shooting at us without saying a word. The former president [of the federation] Albis Munoz was hit by three bullets. They made us get out of the car and began to hit us. They drove us around Caracas for two hours, and then they released us.”
The gunmen dumped Munoz at a hospital, where she was later pronounced to be in stable condition. Alvarez and Fedecamaras treasurer Ernesto Villasmil were deposited at a motorway off-ramp.
Chavez’s interior minister, Tareck El Aissami, assured reporters that police had their best detectives on the case, and pledged the investigation would be “transparent and objective.” “All the evidence, including the recovered vehicle and interviews with those affected, everything points to the motive of robbery, although we do not rule out other hypotheses,” soothed El Aissami, leaving open the possibility of a political motivation, which is certainly the conclusion at this blog.
While it is true that Venezuela has witnessed a crime wave of late and that Caracas has one of the highest murder rates in the world, it is also true that Alvarez is a prominent opponent of Chavez’s Cuban-style communism. “But I do want to say that this forms part of the climate of insecurity that we have in Venezuela, and the government has the responsibility to try to establish greater security,” Alvarez admonished after his release. In June, President Chavez called Fedecamaras “one of the biggest obstacles to progress” in Venezuela and the business federation’s leaders “enemies of the nation.”
Over the weekend, Chavez plunged further into his latest expropriation binge by nationalizing Venezuela’s largest privately owned steel producer Siderurgica del Turbio SA. The company exports steel products to countries throughout Latin America, as well as to Africa, Asia, and Europe. Chavez has ordered the National Guard to “safeguard” the company’s seven plants. Telephone calls to the company’s headquarters in Caracas went unanswered late Sunday, shortly after the president announced the expropriation.
In early October, Chavez announced the nationalization of Industrias Venoco, the country’s largest independent automotive lubricants company. The Venezuelan dictator, whose communist regime has nationalized more than 300 companies in just the last two years, explained that the expropriation includes Venoco subsidiaries Nacional de Grasas Lubricantes and Aditivos de Orinoco. Chávez accuses Venoco of overcharging for lubricants and other oil derivative products.
Intriguingly, Venoco is almost entirely owned by Franklin Duran, who in 2008 was found guilty in a Miami federal court of being an unregistered agent of the Venezuelan government. Duran’s conviction stemmed from the so-called Suitcase-gate scandal, in which US government prosecutors proved that Duran transported US$800,000 from Chavez to Argentina, to aid the presidential campaign of then-candidate Cristina Kirchner. Center-leftist Kirchner, who is now president, denied any involvement in the case, while Duran is completing a four year prison sentence.
Incidentally, Cristina’s husband, Nestor, Argentina’s previous president, died of a heart attack on October 27, prompting a eulogy from Chavez. According to Venezuela’s top commie thug, Nestor, who was secretary general of the Lenin-inspired Union of South American Nations when he died, “left a legacy of dignity.”
Venezuela’s strategic alliance and nuclear partnership with Russia has also provoked concern among US allies in the region, including former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe. Last Tuesday, speaking after receiving an award from Spain’s International Observatory of Victims of Terrorism, Uribe declared: “Venezuela’s arms race is very dangerous both for the security of its own citizens and Venezuela’s neighbors. The Venezuelan government has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but has not signed its additional protocols.” Last month, Caracas and Moscow announced a deal under which Russia will help the South American country to build its first nuclear power station. Chavez, a long-time nemesis of Uribe, claims that his country only seeks to “diversify energy sources.”
Uribe was presented with the award by John Frank Pinchao Blanco, a police officer who was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces in Colombia in 1998 and held captive until his escape in 2007. The former president dedicated his award to the Colombian police and armed forces. Uribe also commented that the proposed legalization of marijuana in California is a threat to regional security.
Meanwhile, Israel, which is on Chavez’s “Bad List,” along with the USA, is worried that Iran will eventually obtain, via Venezuela, the S-300 anti-missile systems that Russia, backing out of a 2007 contract, has now promised it will not hand over to Tehran. “This is a real possibility, considering the close ties between Venezuela and Iran,” an Israeli official familiar with the deal told The Jerusalem Post.
Venezuela and Iran are close allies. Indeed, Chavez has visited counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad eight times, most recently last month, when he inked a number of agreements aimed at increasing their strategic partnership. The S-300 is one of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft-missile systems in the world, with a purported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12. It has a range of about 200 kilometers and can take out targets at altitudes of 90,000 feet.