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Former Venezuelan Minister of Defense travels in style, despite US' Patriot Act

By Lorenzo Barquero

10.01.05 | Reporter Patricia Poleo of El Nuevo Pais, publishes today information that former Minister of the Interior and Defense in the Chavez administration General Lucas Rincon was picked up right before Christmas at a local Venezuelan airport by a Lear Jet, number N 58 ST, owned by The Wilmington Trust Co. a subsidiary of financial group The Wilmington Trust Corp, which engages in banking and wealth management activities.

The retired General reportedly traveled to the US on Dec. 21st with his whole family in the comfort of that aircraft. Rincon, besides his many roles in the Chavez administration, is best known for his famous speech on the eve of April 11th. 2002 in which he announced on national television that the Chiefs of Staff had asked Chavez for his resignation, which Chavez accepted. Chavez has always denied he resigned that evening. Rincon's announcement led to Chavez' brief departure from office, which was later called a coup. Rincon resurfaced soon afterwards as a Minister in Chavez' Cabinet, but his role in the events of April 11th. 2002 has never been explained and he has never been called to testify by the Chavez administration in any of the trials relating to the coup. Without Rincon's declaration, Chavez would not have left office and history would have taken a different course.

What is unclear is how, given Rincon's "politically sensitive" position in the Venezuelan Government and the restrictions of the US Patriot's Act [s. 312, paragraph 3(b)], The Wilmington Trust provides such a high class service to former General Rincon. A General in the Venezuelan Armed Forces would be hard pressed to justify wealth that would make an institution like The Wilmington Trust provide such a value added service to the General.

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