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Commentary on the Post's op-ed "Watch Venezuela"

By Pedro Mario Burelli

21.11.04 | Comment: on Thursday night an all powerful state prosecutor was killed when his SUV was apparently blown up with a remotely operated C4 bomb. In which city of the world did this wicked crime occur? Baghdad? Mosul? Moscow? Madrid? Medellín? No, it actually occurred in the heart of Caracas. Not surprising? Actually, in spite of unrelenting political tension – which has included its fair share of unresolved criminal acts - the killing of Danilo Anderson is Venezuela’s first (contemporary) instance of a targeted political assassination and, to boot, it has all the essential ingredients to stir up the country’s putrid pot.

While his formal title was “Fourth State Prosecutor for Environmental Matters with National Competence” Anderson was better known as Chavez’s chief henchman; a pit bull willing to carry out the Lt. Colonel’s most perverted schemes, a tropicalized version of Robespierre who – not unpredictably - met his predecessor’s fate. Anderson was behind every single legal case in which the law was subverted in order to intimidate Chavez’s opponents, or to cover the tracks for the amoral regime he served with obsequious delight. To millions of common Venezuelans Anderson was THE “boogeyman”. While all this does not justify, much less excuse, an assassination it might explain why he was its target.

Evil and so forth, who had him killed? Who gains most from his death? Who or what is next? Who knows! The fact that there are so many credible hypotheses and scenarios is proof in itself of the sorry state we have reached as a society. Fingers point to “U.S. trained opposition paid terrorists”, “individuals he had – or was planning to - indict”, “competing factions in the complex web of opportunists that Chavez has weaved around himself”, “chavista provocateurs seeking excuses to pounce on their opponents”, “tried and tested Cuban shenanigans”, and everything in between. An environment in which anything flies is Hugo Chavez’s demented legacy to Venezuela and the region. While no effort should be spared to unmask and punish those that planned and carried out this crime, there is no doubt that Mr. Chavez bears some of the responsibility personally for setting the stage and providing potential motive. How can we forget that citizens’ rights have been trampled upon, institutions have been demolished, justice has been booby trapped, free press is about to be gagged, and the electoral system was finally gutted during the recent regional elections. An old Spanish proverb aptly states: If you sow winds, you will harvest storms.

In today’s superb Editorial, the Washington Post reminds its readers – once again – of a tragedy called Venezuela, and from their description of our affairs it must be obvious even to the occasional observer that we did not find a democratic, peaceful, low-carbohydrate solution to our problems through the intervention of Jimmy Carter (who ever has?) and the O.A.S. (R.I.P.?). The editorialists do a very good job summarizing the state of play and - once again - call on the Bush administration to get off its butt and focus attention on the region in general and on Chavez in particular. At least incoming Secretary of State Rice is on the record with some very tough language that, if pundits are correct, reflects word for word the thinking of the re-elected President. Will W do better the second time around? We Will Wait and C.

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