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Venezuela: Local News Review 23/11/04

By Sol Castro,

Investigation on ‘Super Prosecutor’s’ death advances | According to the Minister of Internal Affairs and Justice 250 grams of C-4 was used and set off by remote control to kill Special Environment Prosecutor, Danilo Anderson, in his SUV, Thursday evening, and General Attorney Isaías Rodríguez said investigators may have found important clues in phone records they will announce at a later date. Six unidentified people have been summoned to testify on Anderson’s last moves. Anderson was given honors and buried Saturday evening after a wake at the Attorney General’s Office building first and the National Assembly later. Anderson was involved in several political cases against opponents of Chavez, including the investigation on Carmona’s interim government and his supporters.

New Torquemadas appointed for Anderson’s cases.

The General Attorney’s Office began reassigning Environment Prosecutor Danilo Anderson’s cases to prevent further delays. On Friday, the next day after his death, the case of the 400 who signed Carmona’s decree was assigned to the Sixth Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz, who will be assisted by Caracas 68th Prosecutor Alejandro Castillo. Ortega was given precise instructions to personally guard the file on the events of April 11, 2002. Ortega is the same prosecutor in the case against civic association Súmate. The case of the 8 Metropolitan Police officers charged with homicide in the events at Puente LLaguno was reassigned to Fundamental Rights 125th Prosecutor Haifa Aissami, who will meet with them as soon as they’re transferred to the political police headquarters, DISIP, later today. All the prosecutors will receive special protection from now on.

Two people arrested in Anderson’s case so far.

Former Secretary of Citizen’s Security for the Caracas Metropolitan Mayor’s Office in April 2002, Iván Simonovis was arrested without any judicial order when he was to board a plane for Miami in Maracaibo this morning. His lawyer, Richard Portillo, was told his client was not arrested, but “under investigation.” However, he was taken to the National Guard’s Command in Zulia State and then transferred to Caracas after a stop-over for bad weather in Barquisimeto. Although another of his lawyers, Carlos Bastidas, informed the General Attorney’s Office wanted to interrogate Simonovis as a witness in Danilo Anderson’s case, it was later known he was being charged with being the intellectual culprit in the events of April 11, 2002 in Puente Llaguno. The other person arrested on Saturday is also a former police officer who investigated the explosions at the Supreme Court, and the car bombing at a shopping mall in 1993.

Still missing after 22 days.

Retired Air Force Colonel Silvino Bustillos has yet to surface despite reports two weeks ago he was in Valencia, a city two hours from Caracas. Bustillos went missing October 31 when he was chased from his voting station to a local police headquarter, and then to his house where he was seen last. News he had died while being tortured reported on the Sunday paper, La Razón, brought forth an accusation for libel by the Minister of Defense against the journalist who broke the news. General García Carneiro, however, has confirmed three intelligence officers from the National Guard (Lieutenant Daniel Pérez, Henry Carrizo and Pedro Velis) had followed Bustillos to his home. So far, the General Attorney’s Office has not initiated any investigation.

The soul brothers reunite.

The Tactics Command of the Fifth Republic Movement, President Hugo Chávez’s political party, will analyze this week former Commander Francisco Arias Cárdena’s request to join the President’s ‘process.’ Arias, who is one of the four top officers involved in the 1992 coup against President Pérez, will meet with representatives from PPT, MEP and MBR-200 to state his interest in adhering the party he leads (Unión) to Chávez’s block. Arias was the “opposition’s” contender against President Chávez in the 2000 election.

Pro-government legislators to pass Anti-Terrorist Law.

Majority leader, MVR Cilia Flores, said the government party will reactivate the discussion of the Anti-Terrorism Law in the National Assembly as a consequence of Anderson’s assassination last week. The measure may be part of a government announced anti-terrorism plan led by the Ministers of Internal Affairs and Justice, Jesse Chacón, and Defense, General Jorge Luis García Carneiro, according to the announcement made Saturday by Chávez, who said he had signed a decree “ordering the urgent drafting of an exceptional anti-terrorist plan and its immediate implementation” before traveling to Spain.

Gag Law to be passed this Wednesday.

The pro-government legislators at the National Assembly will pass the Social Responsibility in Radio and Television Law this week between Tuesday’s ordinary session and a 24-hour extension on Wednesday if necessary to pass the 9 pending articles.

TSJ orders transfer of PM officers.

The Supreme Court authorized the transfer of the 8 Metropolitan Police officers (Erasmo José Bolívar, Marco Javier Hurtado, Luis Enrique Molina, Rafael Neazoa, José Pérez, Julio Rodríguez, Héctor Rovaín, and Ramón Zapata) arrested for their alleged participation in the events of April 2002 to the headquarters of the political police, DISIP, to protect their lives since the new Mayor of Metropolitan Caracas informed they had important information as to what happened that day, and who gave the order to shoot at the protesters; information they had given slain prosecutor Danilo Anderson right before his death. The officers, who had been in jail in their command since April 2003, had been given an offer of lesser charges if they incriminated former Mayor Alfredo Peña and his police commissioners.

New ministers with old faces.

Before flying to Spain, the President swore in two new ministers and the president of PDVSA, the state oil company. He replaced the Minister of Foreign Affairs with the president of PDVSA, Ali Rodríguez Araque, the fifth in as many years (José Vicente Rangel, Luis Alfonso Dávila, Roy Chadderton, Jesús Pérez), and appointed the Minister of Mining and Energy, Rafael Ramírez, as the new president of the oil company; he will hold the two positions. For the Health and Social Development Ministry, he appointed former Director of Sanitation, Francisco Armada to replace Roger Capella, dismissed after the latest crisis with the Into the Slums Program.

Recall referendum against opposition legislators suspended.

The recall referendum against the 9 opposition legislators (Isabel Calderón, Salomón Centeno, Wilfredo Febres, and Conrado Pérez, from AD; Nelson Ventura, from Solidaridad, Luis Longart, from MAS, César Pérez Vivas, from COPEI, Carlos Berrizbeitia, from Proyecto Venezuela, and Rafael Marín, independent) pending since last year was postponed indefinitely by the Supreme Court after the CNE announced them for December 5.

President Chávez finally gets to travel, and stands up investors.

Now that he was legitimized after the August 15 recall referendum and October 31 regional elections, and championing the issue of terrorism after the explosion that killed a loyal prosecutor, Chávez flew to Madrid, Spain, for a three-day visit to meet with President Rodríguez Zapatero, and investors, university students, and union leaders. The Chambers of Commerce had organized a meeting with businessmen and investors who got stood up when Chávez didn’t arrive Monday evening alleging his visit with President Rodríguez Zapatero had extended. Marxist and leftist student and union organizations have accompanied the President in each of his meetings showing their support for the “Venezuelan revolution,” and Chávez has reciprocated by expressing, “How happy the Spain of this Monday. What a joy to see a free Spain today, up from the arm and the mind of its people. How sad the Spain subordinated to the orders of Washington.” Chávez who had previously canceled a visit to the Ibero-American Summit in Costa Rica last Friday because of the bombing, will next travel to Libya, Russia, Qatar, and Iran, and to China later in December.

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