CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez on Sunday said he believes enemies including the CIA are out to kill him, and called U.S. diplomat John Negroponte a "professional killer.''The CIA does have a history of coups and assassinations in Latin America (1954 Guatemala coup against Jacobo Arbenz, 1961 coup against J. M. Velasco Ibarra of Ecuador, a 1963 coup against Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic, the 1973 coup against -- and assassination of -- Salvador Allende in Chile, the 1983 CIA establishment of the "Contra army" in Nicaragua, as well as the entire history of death squads emerging from the School of the Americas). John Negroponte as a "professional killer" is certainly hyperbole, and it is doubtful that the Assistant Secretary of State ever killed anyone himself. However, as US Ambassador to Honduras (1981-85), Negroponte oversaw the establishment of death squads in Honduras and El Salvador as well as the US-supported "Contra war' against Nicaragua's Sandinista government.
Here and here is the entire FOIA file on Luis Posada Carriles from the National Security Archives at George Washington University. Here is the file on John Negroponte. Read them and decide for yourself if Chavez is being paranoid.
Chavez said Venezuelan officials have intelligence that associates of jailed Cuban anti-communist militant Luis Posada Carriles also are involved in plotting to assassinate him.
He said the death plot idea has "gained weight'' due to various factors, including the recent appointment of Negroponte, the former director of national intelligence, as deputy to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Of course they have. What else would they say? Logic -- and ethics -- demands we acknowledge the fact that none of this proves anything. Chavez may be lying, he may be crazy, he may be manipulating the media. Or he may be telling the truth. My point is that our history in Latin America suggests that he is not, at the very least, crazy.
"Who did they swear in...there at the White House as deputy secretary of state? A professional killer: John Negroponte,'' Chavez said.
Chavez did not elaborate, but his government has previously accused Negroponte of playing a key role in the Contra war against the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua when he served as ambassador to Honduras - a haven for clandestine Contra bases - from 1981 to 1985.
U.S. Embassy officials could not immediately be reached for comment, but they have denied Chavez's repeated accusations that they are plotting to oust him.
Posada's involvement is documented in recently declassified CIA papers. Posada's FOIA files can be seen here and here, and the actual declassified CIA memo that refers to his involvement in the bombing can be seen here.
Chavez was asked about reports of assassination plots during a televised interview.
"'They have assigned special units of the CIA, true assassins, who go around not only here in Venezuela, in Central America, in South America,'' Chavez said, without elaborating.
He added that while Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative, remains jailed in the U.S. on immigration charges, "Posada Carriles' people are very active in Central America and searching for contacts in Venezuela ... They are going around searching for explosives in large quantities, thinking about a sort of car bombing or searching for ground-to-air missiles, thinking about the presidential plane.''
Chavez did not give details. His government has demanded that the U.S. extradite Posada Carriles, a naturalized Venezuelan, to stand trial for allegedly masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. Posada Carriles denies involvement in that incident.
The CIA documents also show that Posada worked with another terrorist, former CIA operative Orlando Bosch. Bosch was pardoned by the first President Bush in 1990.
This, my friends, is our "war between good and evil."