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Viewed against a backdrop of draconian US Homeland Security provisions, Venezuela's efforts are but a p*ssy-cat!

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VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes: It was probably to be expected that the mainstream US media should go into overdrive when presented with news from Venezuela that the country's National Assembly (AN) has approved a new Intelligence & Counterintelligence Act. Headlines claiming Chavez is setting up a spy organization, and that Venezuelans are being ordered to snitch on one another, were the Stateside order of the day ... but, as usual when taking a closer look at the US mainstream media, what is REALLY the truth?

The facts are that Venezuela is in the process of reforming a thoroughly disorganized police service which has traditionally been crippled with individual acts of corruption, gun-toting cops on the rampage and extra-judicial killings which, even by the most elastic stretch of the imagination, can not be placed at the doorstep of reformist President Hugo Chavez Frias.

Of course, if the Washington DC spin machine was to be believed, strongman 'dictator' Hugo Chavez could easily have dealt with all and sundry by putting them up against a brick wall and despatching them with a spray of bullets from an imported Russian-built AK-47.

But, hey! Reality is quite another thing away from the biased spotlight of Fox News and sundry.

YES! Violence and crime are rampant! They've always been rampant. It's one of the more tragic aspects of ANY third world country that law & order is not necessarily uppermost in the minds of people who are trying to eke out a miserable survival in the slum-barrios that cling to the hillsides around most Venezuelan centers of population. That doesn't excuse it, but when you consider that since colonial times Latin America has largely been under the influence of Spanish conquistadores (a.k.a. robbers & bandits), old customs die hard.

Speaking on State-owned Venezolana de Television (VTV), State Political & Security (DISIP) Police chief, General Henry Rangel Silva admitted that the implementation of the new Intelligence & Counter Intelligence Act has been "controversial," but went on to say that, for the first time, it defines what is allowed and what is disallowed in state security surveillance operations.

While the political opposition to President Hugo Chavez Frias ... perhaps mindful of how they, themselves, conducted state intelligence operations during the half century while they were in corrupt power ... have gone ballistic claiming worst scenarios in all aspects of how the new law will be put into effect, including the fact that their Washington DC backers have already joined in the chorus as though they, the US State Department, were as white as the driven snow!

But, cut away the hysteria, and you'll see that a modernation of Venezuela's security services was a essential high priority in Venezuela's scheme of things.

The Directorate of Military Intelligence (DIM by its Spanish acronym) and DISIP are, of course, the outward expression of Venezuela's policing reform although the program delves deeper into the nation's pshyce with reforms to community and urban police forces as well as the heralded implementation of a national police force and combination of other disparate policing groups to form a homogenous cadre of trained professionals to meet the demands of a NEW Venezuelan society.

Why the United States should be so concerned over the setting up of Venezuelan versions of the CIA and the FBI is beyond me ... UNLESS ... unless, they undersdtand that their own years of efforts to infiltrate and corrupt Venezuelan policing is about the be rendered as nought.

Under such circumstances, their habitual wrath over all things Venezuela is perhaps excusable, but then...

DISIP General Henry Rangel Silva says that those who view the new law as creating a society of snitchers "don't have a clue" since the existing organization already has a large network of collaborators ... and he's right! It's the proper thing for ANY country's security services to set up "a large network of collaborators" to keep tabs on organized crime, would-be terrorists and others who seek to disrupt the democratic process of legitimate government.

Viewed against a backdrop of draconian US Homeland Security provisions, Venezuela's efforts are but a p*ssy-cat!

Venezuela's Intelligence & Counterintelligence Act has been drawn up strictly within the provisions of the country's Constitution and has been approved by a majority in the country's Legislature. What then is the beef? Is the US Homeland Security Act compliant with the US Constitution? I leave that one for discerning minds to answer...

Rangel Silva rightly says that "there's no culture of intelligence for the preservation of the state in Venezuela" ... of course!

Intelligence operations in Venezuela have been blighted by abuse for decades during which the current opposition held the high ground and did nothing to render remedy or to reform. Venezuelans grew to fear the unilaterality of any police action knowing that compliance was the only antedote to a severe beating up or even a bullet in one's head. Shoot first and ask questions later was quite often the individual police agent's armory in what is/was admittedly a brutal war against crime.

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Roy S. Carson is veteran foreign correspondent (45+ years in the business) currently editor & publisher of VHeadline Venezuela reporting on news & views from and about Venezuela in South America -- available for interviews -- call Houston (more...)
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