Eva Golinger -- Of course it was highly suspicious that Salazar was flown out of Spain, where he was allegedly on vacation with his family, and taken to the United States on a DEA plane. There is no question that he was collaborating with the US government and betrayed his country. What remains to be seen is what his exact role was. Did he administer the murderous poison to Chavez, or was it one of his partners, such as Captain Velasquez or the nurse/treasurer Claudia?
While this all may sound very conspiracy theory-ish, these are facts that can be verified independently. It is also true, according to declassified secret US documents, that the US Army was developing an injectable radiation weapon to use for political assassinations of select enemies as far back as 1948. The Church Commission hearings into the Kennedy Assassination also uncovered the existence of an assassination weapon developed by CIA to induce heart attacks and soft-tissue cancers. Chavez died of an aggressive soft-tissue cancer. By the time it was detected it was too late. There is other information out there documenting the development of a "cancer virus" that was going to be weaponized and allegedly used to kill Fidel Castro in the 1960s. I know most of that seems like science fiction, but do your research and see what really exists. I don't believe everything I read either. As a lawyer and investigative journalist, I need hard evidence, and multiple, verifiable sources. Even if we just go on the official US Army document from 1948, it's a fact that the US government was in the process of a developing a radiation weapon for political assassinations. More than 60 years later we can only imagine what technological capacities exist.
MW -- Can you explain why the DEA was involved in this operation and not the CIA as many would expect?
Eva Golinger -- I think CIA was involved. They work together on high-profile political cases, and they were operating out of the Intelligence Fusion Center in Colombia together. Why it was DEA and not CIA that brought Leamsy Salazar to the US has not yet been revealed, but I don't think that means the CIA wasn't involved in the whole operation.
MW -- On a personal note, Hugo Chavez was a giant among men and a real hero. Would you please tell us what his loss has meant to you personally and how his death has impacted the people of Venezuela?
Eva Golinger -- The loss of Hugo Chavez has been crushing. He was my friend and I spent nearly ten years as his advisor. The void he has left is impossible to replace. Despite his human flaws, he had a huge heart and genuinely dedicated himself to build a better country for his people, and a better world for humanity. He cared deeply about all people, but especially the poor, neglected and marginalized.
There is a picture taken of Chavez by a bystander, when he had been at an event in the center of Caracas and was walking through a large plaza that had been cleared by security. All of a sudden, he saw a young man, disheveled and seemingly on drugs, barely able to keep himself upright, wearing ragged clothes. To the horror of his security guards, Chavez went over to him and lovingly put his arm around him and offered him a cup of coffee. He didn't judge the poor guy or reprimand him, or show disgust. He treated him like a fellow human being who deserved to be seen with dignity. He stayed there with him for a while, just telling stories and chatting like old friends. When he had to go, he told one of his guards to offer the man whatever help he needed.
There were no cameras there, no TV, no public. It wasn't a publicity stunt. It was genuine, sincere care and concern for a fellow human in need. Despite being president and a powerful head of state, Chavez always saw himself as an equal to all people.
His unexpected death has had a tragic toll on Venezuela. Sadly, those he left in charge have been unable to manage the country through this difficult times. A combination of corruption and external sabotage by opposition forces (with foreign support) has crippled the economy. Mismanagement has been widespread and destructive. US agencies and their allies in Venezuela have seized the opportunity to further destabilize and destroy all remaining remnants of chavismo. Now they are trying to tarnish and erase Chavez's legacy, but I believe this is an impossible task. Even if the current government doesn't survive the vicious attacks against it, Chavez's memory in the millions of people he impacted and improved the lives of, will weather the storm. "Chavismo" has become an ideology founded on principles of social justice and human dignity. But do people miss him terribly? Yes.
Eva Golinger is winner of the International Award for Journalism in Mexico (2009), named "La Novia de Venezuela" by President Hugo Chavez, is an Attorney and Writer from New York, living in Caracas, Venezuela since 2005 and author of the best-selling books, "The Chavez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela" (2006 Olive Branch Press), "Bush vs. Chavez: Washington's War on Venezuela" (2007, Monthly Review Press)
Since 2003, Eva has been investigating, analyzing and writing about US intervention in Venezuela using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain information about US Government efforts to undermine progressive movements in Latin America.
A version of this interview appeared on Telesur.