Chávez denies helping ETA

The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, has made an official statement today denying any links between his government and the Basque terrorist group ETA. He said that no credibility should be given to ‘two bloodthirsty criminals lacking in any moral or human qualities’.

In a television interview on the state run channel Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) Chávez also said that he had asked the Venezuelan Chancellor, Nicolás Maduro, to make a statement to refute the alleged training of two members of ETA in Venezuela.

The controversy surrounding the possibility of links between ETA and the Venezuelan government has arisen due to a Spanish high court judge, Ismael Moreno, releasing a statement yesterday in which he alleges that Arturo Cubillas, a member of ETA who was deported to Venezuela in 1989, was involved in training two alleged members of the Basque terrorist organization, Javier Atristain Gorosabel and Juan Carlos Besance Zugasti, in 2008. Both men were detained last week in Spain.

The latest statement by Chávez categorically denies any links with ETA and reiterates the contents of another statement released on 8th March 2010.

Chávez says that the allegations by Javier Atristain Gorosabel and Juan Carlos Besance are ‘absurd’ and dismisses them as a way of trying to avoid getting severe prison sentences.

He said that ‘Venezuela and Spain share a wide range of instances in which the two countries have cooperated in judicial and police matters and that Venezuelan state bodies were prepared to offer their full support to the Spanish state’.
On Monday the Venezuelan Ambassador to Spain, Isaías Rodríguez, strenuously denied that his government had any connections to ETA and said that he did not believe the statements made by the two members of ETA that they had received training in Venezuela.

According to sources close to the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs the Spanish government asked the Venezuelan government for information on the alleged training of ETA terrorists in Venezuela within the ‘framework of collaboration between the countries in the fight against terrorism’.

According to the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs the request for further information on the matter is a continuation of the contact between the two governments since March this year when another high court judge was in charge of the case against Cubillas in which Venezuela was accused of cooperating with ETA and the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Columbia (FARC).

This is when both governments released a statement in which they reaffirmed in the strongest possible terms their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms.