15 March 2010

ETA in Venezuela

Justice Eloy Velasco, of Spain's High Court, indicted a number of ETA terrorists, and shed light on the professional relationship that some of them have with the Chavez regime. This has rattled the Venezuelan caudillo, who seems somewhat uncomfortable about people being able to post this kind of information online. Since Velasco's indictment, there's been a lot of talk about ETA presence in Venezuela in the media. Arturo Cubillas Fontan, ETA member at the centre of the accusations, and who has been in Venezuela since late 80ies, is married to Goizeder Odriozola Lataillade, who once was Chavez secretary. Cubillas Fontan works as head of security of Venezuela's Ministry of Land, and has Venezuelan citizenship. Chavez, being his customary thuggish self, has denied everything, and is yet to announce anything indicative of an investigation, dismissal, or arrest of Cubillas Fontan. As Francisco Toro argues, the "Venezuelan government isn't obliquely "sponsoring" terrorists; it's employing them outright."

This whole ETA issue brings a lot of memories. In 1978, my grand parents and mother, of Basque origin and living in Venezuela at the time, decided to move back to the Basque country. During my years in Zarauz, between 1978 and 1984, I developed a close friendship with a guy called Javi (Javier or Xavier) Mutiozabal. "Mutio," as we used to call him, had two brothers: one called Felix and, the eldest, called Jose Angel. For us kids, the fact that Jose Angel used to boast that he belonged to ETA meant nothing. I never gave a second thought to it, despite the fact that my grand father, arrested on trumped charges, and tortured during Franco's years, kept slamming the antics of ETA, arguing that those, so called ETA nationalists, were nowhere to be found when the Gudaris, as nationalists are called in the Basque country, decided to fight Franco. In my grand father's opinion, there was no point in fighting against the Spanish State for Basque language, culture, or right to exist, post Franco's death. "One doesn't fight with terror in a democracy," he often told me.

The reality in the street was different though, for the death of Franco, and arrival of democracy had just emboldened ETA. Jose Angel was living proof of it, everyone about town knew of his involvement with ETA, and no one did anything about it. Further, he wasn't the only one who openly supported ETA. However when GAL appeared on the scene, and ETA's members corpses started popping up everywhere, Jose Angel, and many others, got scared and decided to flee. Thus I got privy, because of my friendship with Mutio, that his brother Jose Angel had gone to Venezuela, and was working in Caracas' Centro Vasco. So I started researching about him, and what follows is what I have been able to find, thus far.

Jose Angel Mutiozabal Galarraga, Venezuelan ID. 24.227.276, D.O.B. 23/12/1962, pops up in a ruling, which demonstrates, yet again, that Venezuelan authorities, as recently as March 2006, have been made aware of commercial activities in Venezuela of ETA members. In the ruling one can read names such as Eugenio Barrutiabengoa Zabarte, and Ignacio Lequerica Urresti. Barrutiabengoa Zabarte has caused some diplomatic incidents between the governments of Spain and Venezuela in the past. He was arrested, and freed, in 1996. An arrest warrant to apprehend him was issued by the Attorney's Office in May 2002, which was reiterated by Venezuela's Supreme Court in March 2006. In 2006, the Chavez regime assured that it would not grant citizenship to Barrutiabengoa Zabarte and other wanted ETA members. In 2002, Arturo Cubillas Fontan was arrested for "preventing the course of justice", read for protecting Barrutiabengoa and other ETA terrorists. He was promptly released. The fact that Jose Angel Mutiozabal had the chutzpah of seeking redress from authorities, about business transactions of ETA's underworld in Venezuela, shows just how comfortable these people are with the current regime. Intelligence sources in Venezuela have been aware of their presence, and whereabouts, in the country since they arrived, and yet arrest warrants issued in 2002 need reiteration in 2006, owing to lack of action on behalf of authorities. So how can Chavez dare argue that his regime does not protect terrorists? How come ETA members, and people suspected of connections to ETA, have been granted Venezuelan citizenship? How come Chavez has not ordered the arrest of a man who's married to his  former secretary?

Chavez is in bed with terrorist groups. Chavez has suspended relations with Colombia, on four occasions, over FARC issues, meets, and poses, with internationally wanted criminals in Miraflores. He also employs them. Let's see if he can prevent this information to be posted online.

Addendum: as news that a another member of ETA employed by Chavez emerge, I have been able to connect, what I think could be another dot in the network of ETA in Venezuela. In the ruling where the names of Jose Angel Mutiozabal, Eugenio Barrutiabengoa and Ignacio Lequerica can be read, there's another one that caught my attention: Maria Eizaguirre. It is entirely possible that whoever transcribed those names made spelling mistakes, which is quite common in the case of Basque last names. In the late 80ies I bought motorbikes, and got involved in motocross, and enduro racing. In that setting, I met people like Ronald Morett, and I also met Fernando Arias, whose mother, Maria Izaguirre de Arias, ID. 6114620, D.O.B. 25/06/1938, also of Basque origin, was involved in some form of ETA-support network, whereby newly arrived ETA terrorists were helped by members of the Basque community in Venezuela. Could the Maria Eizaguirre cited in the ruling be the same as Maria Izaguirre de Arias involved in helping ETA terrorists? Authorities would do well in pondering on that question.


Roberto N said...

Ronald Morett:

I too unfortunately got to know this piece of crap. He started early, in his life of crime, by stealing my brother's moto.

His progression into drug trafficking began as it usually does, supplying the "dañados" in the East who were too pussy to go to the barrios for their fixes, and escalated rapidly from there.
That he served 11 yeasr in a Canadian jail for trafficking came as no surprise to those of us who have had the unfortunate luck to know him.

What I will never forgive him for, is for the death of Vicente Sucaro in CCCT. Thanks to Ronald, Vicente was gunned down by a security guard and killed right in front of us. I will never forget that day. Vicente had a rare talent with motorcycles, and was the best I had ever seen. He died because he came in defense of Ronald, who had mercilessly dogged the guard in trying to steal his shotgun, failed and was getting his ass kicked when Vicente intervened. One blast from the shotgun was all it took.

I hope Ronald rots in hell, forever.

AB said...

HI Robert, I don't think Ronald is going to rot in hell, for the same reason that I don't think Fernandez Barrueco, or Arturo Cubillas, or Ivan Marquez, just to name a few, have anything to fear from chavista justice.

What I believe has happened, is that Chavez is using Ronald to show that he's tough on crime. We all know he ain't. It's all about posturing and regaining a veneer of credibility. Ronald will be scot free soon, he knows too much and is too deep in very powerful drug cartels. He'll be out soon.

StJacques said...

Some fascinating details you have provided here Alek, especially what you recall personally of Jose Angel Mutiozabal being the older brother of one of your childhood friends.

I must say that, based upon what I see in the press from Spain, I am a little surprised that this issue does not seem to be going away as quickly as I thought it would. I frankly expected the PP to drop the ball on this one as they have with every other opportunity to press Zapatero, but the Spanish press seems to be into this matter a little too deeply to let it die.

Chavez is taking a slightly different tone right now. He is no longer refusing to comment, but is now saying that the ETA "Refugees" (cough! cough!) in Venezuela were not involved in acts of terrorism, which means that he must now acknowledge they are in fact there. That is a small change of attitude, but a change nonetheless.

And Judge Velasco is at least taking the matter seriously, by which I mean he is not giving up hope of international action. He has turned in his petitions to Interpol for the arrest warrants for twelve of the 13 ETA and FARC members indicted, apparently one has died recently. And I do not doubt that Velasco is pressing because Zapatero has asked for more concrete evidence supporting the indictments.

I think Zapatero may finally have made a political mistake in pressing for more substantial evidence, because he is about to bring the discussion of the Reyes laptops out into the open. I think that could be very healthy because the attitudes of the U.S. government have hardened considerably since the spring of 2008, as witnessed in Obama's renewal and strengthening of Plan Colombia last year, a program he opposed while campaigning for the presidency.

Good work Alek. I'm sure I'll be following up on this issue myself later.



AB said...

Well, let's call a spade a spade: Zapatero would never had won the presidency on the first place, had it not been for the terrorist attacks in Madrid. Zapatero has led a government that has been far too lenient with dictators and terrorism supporters in Latin America, read the Castros and Chavez. The spectacle of his government placating strong criticism in Spain by assuring that Chavez will collaborate, in the investigation and possible capture of terrorists living in Venezuela, draw laughter from people that have been following Chavez's political career for more than just the latest scandal.

What I think will eventually happen, that is when Chavez realises the prospect of being dragged to international criminal lawsuits because of his support, and involvement with terrorist organizations, is that he'll use one or two chips, as he did with Arne Chacon, Fernandez Barrueco, or Ronald Morett, and he'll say "look, I'm collaborating, I've arrested x, y or z..." In my view it's all a farce. As long as chavista 'justice' is the one administering justice no action of his can be taken seriously. When I see Goizeder Odriozola being dragged to a police station for questioning, after which her husband Arturo Cubillas et al are put on a plane with a one way ticket to meet with Velasco, I'll start believing in Chavez's alleged will of collaborating with Spain in bringing ETA terrorists to justice. In the meanwhile, I'm just fascinated at the amount of incriminating evidence that's out there, that has not been acted upon by Spain, the EU, regional governments, etc. Certainly, Uribe stating that Cubillas being an employee of Chavez does not mean that Chavez is in with ETA/FARC, or the blunder of that stupid US general saying that there's no evidence of Chavez relation with FARC, in the face of large amounts of publicly accessible evidence to prove the contrary, doesn't help either. I guess what I am trying to get at, is that governments involved in this issue are using its various elements for leverage, rather than taking the road of rule of law and start handing down arrest warrants, granting extradition requests, and investigating properly.

Roberto N said...

In Re: Morett:

Alek, unfortunately you are probably right. Morett is a "trapo rojo" to distract attention. More than likely he'll gain his freedom soon, without the creaky and broken wheels of Venezuelan justice turning even for one degree.

That the Spanish press is not letting go is not that surprising. After all, here we have Chavez colluding with an organization that does not have the SPanish people's interests at heart, to put it mildly.