In 1992, Hugo Chavez attempted a military coup of Venezuela. His revolutionary power grab failed and he was jailed until 1994 when he was freed by a presidential pardon. He was elected president in 1998 and has gradually increased his power and armed his personal militia.
Chavez has many links to violent terrorist organizations and totalitarian dictators. On Oct 12, 1999, Chavez was the guest of Communist China. While in China, he declared: "I have been very Maoist all of my life." Like the Soviet, Cuban, and North Korean hosts of past WFYS meetings, Chavez is a proud Communist and an enemy of the USA.
Chavez has sent members of his private army of enforcers in Venezuela, the Bolivarian Circles, to Cuba for military training. The purpose of this training is "to carry out acts of violence through them" when they return to Venezuela.
Writing in National Review, William S. Prillman states that "Chavez has also imported hundreds of Cuban activists" whose objective is "to arm his thousands of civilian supporters in the 'Bolivarian Circles,' a private militia that rivals the National police force." This militia, according to Prillman, has been involved with the theft of land in Venezuela. He also reports that a faction of the Bolivarian Circles claimed credit for a bomb exploding outside Colombia's national consulate offices in Caracas. A few days before the bombing, the government of Colombia had complained that Hugo Chavez was supporting the Marxist FARC terrorists and their revolution in Colombia.
Chavez has close ties to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. He provides Castro with cheap oil, and Castro, in return, provides him with military support and training for his Bolivarian Circles. Castro has trained many terrorists in Cuba, including Americans, and has an extensive espionage network within the United States.
Chavez maintains contacts with terrorism-sponsoring nations in the Middle East. He was the first world leader to visit Saddam Hussein after the first Persian Gulf War. In 2001 he signed "cooperation agreements" with Libya, Iraq, and Iran. Former Venezuelan military officials allege that Chavez directly supports Middle Eastern terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda.
In the January 8, 2003 issue of National Review, Ivan G. Osorio of the Competitive Enterprise Institute reported that Venezuelan Air Force Major Juan Diaz Castillo directly linked Chavez to the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda: "Diaz said that shortly following the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, Chavez commissioned him 'to organize, coordinate, and execute a covert operation consisting of delivering financial resources, specifically $1 million to [Afghanistan] Taliban government, in order for them to assist the al-Qaeda terrorist organization.'" Osorio explains that according to Major Castillo, the money was funneled through Venezuela's ambassador in India, Walter Marquez. The $1 million was divided, with 90% going to fund the murders of Sept 11, 2001.
Judicial Watch, a non-partisan public interest law organization, filed a lawsuit against Hugo Chavez on behalf of a victim and a survivor of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Said Judicial Watch President Larry Klayman, "Chavez, as President of Venezuela, and in furtherance of his radical terrorist agenda, initiated a plan to assist, aid, and abet bin Laden and al-Qaeda to relocate and train terrorists for future attacks on the United States. Like Castro, Chavez and his henchmen have [the] blood of thousands of innocent people on their hands."
In a 2003 article for the Weekly Standard, Philadelphia-based human rights activist Thor Halvorssen wrote: "A day after the September 11th terrorist attacks, Chavez declared that 'the United States brought the attacks upon itself for their arrogant imperialist foreign policy.' Chavez also described the U.S. military response to bin Laden as 'terrorism,' claiming that he saw no difference between the invasion of Afghanistan and the Sept 11th terrorist attacks."
Hugo Chavez is also alleged to have ties to another designated terrorist organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to Ivan Osorio, "General Nestor Gonzalez Gonzalez, another military dissident, says Chavez has rooted weapons and supplies from Cuba through Venezuela to Marxist guerrillas in Colombia."
Thor Halvorssen adds to the case of a Chavez-FARC alliance. He writes, "the Colombian government declared that the head of the FARC terrorist group, Manuel Marulanda, is hiding in Venezuela." According to Halvorssen, "Venezuelan Foreign Minister Roy Chaderton gave a press conference where he unequivocally stated that the Chavez government will not refer to the FARC Columbian terrorists as 'terrorists,' because the Chavez government wishes to remain 'neutral.'"
In the summer of 2006, Chavez embarked on a six-week trip to a dozen countries. As the Capital Research Center summarizes:
"Venezuela’s president met with Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko and called for a strategic alliance between the two countries. He met with Vladimir Putin and purchased $3 billion in Russian arms, including fighter jets, military helicopters, and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles. He also visited Iran, where he voiced support for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran-financed Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist group; Vietnam, where he fondly reminisced about its struggle against the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s; Cuba, where he held hands with an ailing Fidel Castro who sent thousands of Cuban doctors and teachers to Venezuela in exchange for oil at much-reduced rates; China, where he struck yet more deals; and Syria, where he promised another strategic alliance to free the world of U.S. domination."
In a July 31, 2006 ceremony at Tehran University, Iranian President Ahmadinejad awarded Chavez Iran's highest state honor, the Islamic Republic Medal, for supporting Tehran in its ambition to further develop its nuclear program. Chavez used the occasion of his award ceremony to say, "Let's save the human race, let's finish off the U.S. empire. This [task] must be assumed with strength by the majority of the peoples of the world." Moreover, he condemned Israel for what he called the "terrorism" and "madness" of its attacks in Lebanon.
On August 4, 2006, Chavez referred to Israel as one of America's "imperialistic instruments," and accused Israel of doing to the Palestinians "what Hitler did to the Jews." On another occasion he said, "The World has room for all, however, it turns out that some minorities, the descendants of the same ones who crucified Christ, took possession of the world’s wealth."
In a September 20, 2006 speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Chavez called Noam Chomsky “one of the most prestigious American and world intellectuals”; he called the U.S. "the greatest threat looming over our planet," a nation whose "hegemonic pretensions ... are placing at risk the very survival of the human species"; he referred to President Bush as "the Devil," an "extremist"; an aspiring "world dictator"; and the "spokesman of imperialism"; he called Americans "cynical, hypocritical, full of this imperial hypocrisy from the need they have to control everything"; and he asserted that "[t]he government of the United States doesn't want peace," but rather "wants to exploit its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony through war."
In a nationally televised, June 2, 2009 speech on the "curse" of capitalism, Hugo Chavez made reference to Barack Obama’s move to nationalize General Motors, and, in a related remark directed to Chavez's longtime friend and ally Fidel Castro, the Venezuelan President suggested that Obama’s brand of socialism may be more extreme than that of anyone else. Said Chavez: “Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama! Fidel, careful or we are going to end up to his [Obama’s] right.”
At the Copenhagen climate summit in December 2009, Chavez said: ""Capitalism is a destructive model that is eradicating life, that threatens to put a definitive end to the human species."
Chavez died of cancer on March 5, 2013.