Below is an abridged statement by the US-based Venezuelan Information Office. Visit http://rethinkvenezuela.com.
The June 3 article by the New York Times, "Chavez Decree Tightens Hold on Intelligence", demonstrates the NYT's ongoing attempt to mislead the general public about the intentions of the Venezuelan government.
While one might have expected the article to describe the content of Venezuela's new intelligence law and discuss a range of reactions to it, the scope was limited only to criticisms by the opposition.
Here are the facts: The law eliminates Venezuela's 50 year old secret political police, known as DISIP, created during the dictatorship of Perez Jimenez. It also eliminates Venezuela's military intelligence agency (DIM). In their place, the General Intelligence Office and the General Counterintelligence Office have been created, both overseen by the interior ministry and defence ministry.
Refining the intelligence capacity of the state does not allow for a "tightening control" by President Hugo Chavez; rather, for the first time Venezuela is providing a legal framework for carrying out and monitoring intelligence activities of the nation. Many actions that once were left to the discretion of the DISIP and the DIM are now subject to oversight. Moreover, the existence of this law provides a level of transparency that was lacking before.
The dissolution of the DISIP and DIM was long overdue. For decades, Venezuelans feared these agencies for their involvement in nefarious activity and repression. From 1967 to 1974, the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles was a high level official at the DISIP.
As opposed to what the NYT implies, the new law guarantees the
rights of freedom of expression and due process under the law, as established in Venezuela's constitution. In Article 21, for instance, it is clearly outlined that those prosecuted are guaranteed the right to a public defence.
Venezuela has recently experienced threats to its national security, this is best exemplified by the unsuccessful 2002 coup d'etat that was supported by the Bush administration. Moreover, just last month, a US fighter jet violated Venezuela's airspace and, to date, the US has not provided an adequate explanation.
Venezuela is reorganising its intelligence community not only to guarantee the security of its democratic institutions but also to guarantee that intelligence operations are carried out under the legal framework of the constitution.
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