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Teodoro Petkoff in Havana – Part II

By Carlos Gutiérrez F.

Originally published in on Saturday 22 April 2006 | ABSTRACT: Intelligence reports indicate that Teodoro Petkoff reportedly left Santiago, Chile —after his presence at the presidential inauguration of Michelle Bachelet— on the private jet of a Venezuelan entrepreneur, made a refueling stop in Panama, and stayed a few days in Havana, where he participated in a high-level meeting with a top Cuban leader in order to address the Venezuelan case, the December elections and the role that Petkoff is to play in those elections. This is the continuation of that account.

It is a story dating back a long time that insolubly joins together two important leaders of the Venezuelan left, today front-and-center on the national scene. Alí Rodríguez Araque, Fidel Castro’s principal agent in Venezuela, and Teodoro Petkoff each have in common not just platinum implants in both knees and the use of crutches or a cane, depending on the seriousness of the case. They are soul brothers. Ideologically, politically, emotionally, and militarily. Forty-five years ago, in 1961, when the overwhelming majority of people enrolled in the Permanent Electoral Registry had yet to be born, they took one step forward from within the Venezuelan Communist Party to found their National Liberation Forces, the FALN, with which they launched their guerrilla warfare, in which both fighters appeared overnight with the rank of commandants. They then established indestructible ties with Castrismo, which in its own way marks them both unconditionally to this day. Petkoff’s brother Luben and companion in his adventures became the master architect for deals related to the cement industry with Havana, later covering other items such as medications and generic drugs, thus becoming the first Venezuelan to get rich from business dealings with Castro’s Cuba. After pacification took place, which was to turn Teodoro into a submissive and loyal follower of Rafael Caldera —the man is grateful— each commandant would go his separate way. Rodríguez Araque would take the Third Road along with Douglas Bravo, finally settling for Causa R and finally the PPT [Patria Para Todos -Fatherland for All], which he used to contribute to the installation of Chávez in Miraflores [the presidential residence]. Petkoff was to go on an adventure with the MAS [Movement toward Socialism], to then become the Minister of Planning for the man who liberated him and ultimately became an entrepreneur of the news media thanks to the financial backing of a dying and bankrupt Hans Neumann.

Alí Rodríguez, the man with the platinum knees, who loves to stroll through the markets of Marrakech under absolute anonymity, would turn into the golden bridge between Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez Frías, thus becoming by means of that route the most important man in Venezuela after the caudillo. He opened doors for the retired lieutenant colonel in Havana in 1994, when he would convince Castro to receive him at the Rancho Boyeros airport with honors worthy of a head of state. He then followed orders to the letter, coming straight from the horse’s mouth: to subject Venezuela to the will of Hugo Chávez thus making himself indispensable to his governmental structure. And since, for Castro, owning Venezuelan oil is the key to controlling the region and the world, he put Alí Rodríguez Araque in the key position: first as secretary general of OPEC, then as president of PDVSA and now, with oil securely in Cuban hands, the key to controlling the international relations of the country of his birth. Since then, Castro has been the true ruler of Venezuela.

Why did Alí Rodríguez Araque stay in Cuba while Pérez Roque, the Cuban foreign minister, was guarding his back in Caracas? Why did Fidel’s man in Caracas escort Teodoro Petkoff —who had arrived by private jet from Chile after a refueling stop in Panama— to the private residence of Raúl Castro in Havana, in order to hold an interview of four hours duration? Why did they “bypass” —that is the word used by “The Falcon’s” uniformed informant who followed these shady events— Adán Chávez, the caudillo’s brother and ambassador to Havana? What did they talk about, what did they plan, what agreements did they reach that were not meant for indiscreet ears, such as those of Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías’ brother? Furthermore, did they touch upon the electoral matter, the dangers of a war in the Caribbean that was to be avoided at all costs?

The details will reveal themselves step by step, since they are acquiring the connotation of an authentic conspiracy of continental dimensions. As a matter of first priority: they established the urgency of having the editor of Tal Cual [i.e. Petkoff] go into the bullring as soon as he returned to Caracas. Second priority: making sure that presidential elections are held in December. Accepting any conditions, including primaries. Third priority: calming the nervous international scenario that pictures Chávez as a firm ally of the Iranians, with the consequent risk of warfare focused on the Caribbean, which may bring bad results for Castrismo and Chavismo, with catastrophic consequences for the revolutionary projects of Castro and Chávez in the region.

This is but the starting point of the skein of yarn that Teodoro Petkoff intends to unravel resulting from the launch of his campaign. It includes the assignment of participating in the December elections in any event. Surprisingly, the Havana agreements seem to coincide with moves made by those who, at the command of the old Coordinadora Democrática [anti-Chávez coalition] and with the financial and mass media backing of powerful business sectors, pull unsuspected strings. As if to give a sneak preview of the primaries and add SÚMATE to a very doubtful electoral game, which Petkoff has hastened to sanctify. One can see the handprint of Enrique Mendoza and other discredited heroes of the Coordinadora Democrática, who between headlong confrontations with the régime or continuing the electoral song and dance, prefer to repeat the pageantry of August 15th (referring to the failed recall referendum of 2004) and of October 31st (referring to regional elections of 2004).

Is SÚMATE, and are its advisors and financial backers involved in this electoral move? For the time being we will remain discretely silent and continue gathering information. This matter touches upon very delicate aspects and well deserves a separate chapter. It will be the main topic of our next dispatch.

Translation by W.K.

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