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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.