Who really jailed Alvarez Paz?
BY CARLOS ALBERTO MONTANER
Oswaldo Alvarez Paz is imprisoned in Caracas, but the tip of the chain
is in Havana. He is in a cell of the political police, denied the right
The matter is serious. He may be the living Venezuelan politician most
respected outside his country. The international clamor against this
abuse has been enormous, and the price Chavismo is paying is high. Even
the White House has issued a statement in protest.
Now 67, this Christian Democratic lawyer with a well-earned reputation
as an honest man, has been everything in Venezuela, except president. He
headed the Chamber of Deputies, was governor of Zulia and, in 1993, lost
the presidential election by a narrow margin against Rafael Caldera, his
former mentor and fellow party member.
The excuse made for jailing him is ridiculous. He is accused of
conspiring against the security of the nation, instigating others to
disobey the law, disseminating false information and encouraging others
to commit crimes.
On what basis? According to his jailers, on a popular program on
Globovisión directed by Leopoldo Castillo, Alvarez Paz commented that
the image of the Venezuelan government has been seriously tarnished by
its alleged links to the FARC narcoterrorists and the ETA terrorists,
while the country sinks amid the murderous violence of the criminals,
the corruption of many officials, and the almost astounding inefficiency
of the public sector.
In other words, exactly the picture described by almost all the
international organizations, investigated by the Spanish judicial
apparatus, and the target of the complaints of millions of Venezuelans
Why did Hugo Chávez order such a stupid step? The answer may have been
provided by Roger Noriega, former U.S. ambassador, a great expert on
Latin America, and a person with access to information that few people
possess. Because of the denunciation made by Alvarez Paz about the
presence in Venezuela of Gen. Ramiro Valdés, a document in which the
Christian Democratic leader foretold the possible ``arrival of regular
troops from Cuba to reinforce the defense of the Chavista revolution.''
Alvarez Paz touched a sensitive nerve.
In reality, Oswaldo Alvarez Paz is a prisoner of the Cubans. In
Venezuela, the orders are issued by the intelligence apparatus operating
from the third floor of Castro's embassy in Caracas.
Years ago, Chávez realized that his permanence in power depends on Cuban
support and has delivered himself, bound hand and foot, to Havana. Cuba
is the metropolis that commands and plunders, and Venezuela is the
colony that obeys and pays.
It is the Cubans who decide whom to arrest, whom to intimidate and who
should conveniently be removed from the country. It is they who design
the political and police strategy of expanding social control.
It is they who spy on the opposition, the military brass and
functionaries, the ones who tap their phones and film them, the ones who
compile compromising information to neutralize or blackmail them. It is
they who set the pace for the growing construction of a totalitarian
state copied, more or less, from the Soviet-Cuban model.
There are Cuban advisers in all institutions, but the most sensitive
zones of intervention are the army and the political police.
Simultaneously, hundreds of Venezuelan youngsters are being taught in
Cuba the techniques of social repression and political control that the
Cubans learned from the KGB and the East German Stasi. The training
lasts from six months to a year, and they will be given the task of
managing the totalitarian state once the cage has been completed.
The Cuban government is intent on accelerating the creation of the
totalitarian state. Chávez is in agreement. The information conveyed by
the Cuban agents to the Castro brothers indicates that popular support
for Chávez is swiftly collapsing. If the partial elections in September
are true and transparent, he would suffer a crushing loss.
The Cubans' suggestion is to ``rapidly deepen the revolution,'' which
implies eliminating any vestige of democracy and freedom that remains in
the country. They may even find some excuse to suspend the election.
That is why they detained Oswaldo Alvarez Paz. He was an obstacle to the