Something to Remember when Analyzing Bandera Roja

Alejandro Silva front of Bandera Roja

Bandera Roja is considered a disgrace, a stain on history that is used to attack Marxist-Leninists or to attack the legacy of Enver Hoxha. Bandera Roja openly supported right-wing opponents of Chavez in their native Venezuela (including Manuel Rosales in 2006) and have since lost much political credibility and most of their members, some of whom formed the new ICMLPO party, the PCMLV or Marxist–Leninist Communist Party of Venezuela.

Even though BR does deserve strong criticism for their treacherous actions, it is important to realize that not all blame rests with them in this equation, particularly given the group’s personal history with Hugo Chavez.

Here is a little-talked-about incident in which Hugo Chavez’s first assignment in the army was a counter-insurgency force against leftist guerrillas from BR ala “Plan Columbia.”

Read an external article from a few years ago here:

Bandera Roja, La Masacre de Cantaura and last Sunday’s Elections in Venezuela

Explaining what has happened in Venezuela in the last decade can sometimes be quite a task. People talk about the “opposition” as if it were a homogeneous group with a common ideology. Besides the social-democrats, social christians and socialists, people always stare at me when I describe Bandera Roja, a Marxist/socialist organization that is part of Venezuela’s opposition and a member of the Mesa de Unidad (MUD) which fielded unified candidates in Sunday’s election.

Bandera Roja began as a Maoist guerrilla group. They were in fact, the last guerrilla group to abandon the armed fight and become a political party in 1992, to become the extreme far left [sic] in Venezuela. Despite this, Bandera Roja never backed Hugo Chavez, arguing he was no socialist or marxist, but an opportunist whose only project is his own self-promotion.

In 1982, what was then the Alejandro Silva front of Bandera Roja (picture above), held a meeting in a farm in Cantaura, inviting students that were simpathetic to the movement, many of whom were unarmed. The military somehow found out about it and started a military operation which began by bombing from airplanes in order to disperse those on the ground. As they dispersed, they were met by military ground forces which proceeded to capture many of those present. Reportedly, most were originally captured alive, but were later found dead.

The case was revived during the last few years, as Venezuela’s General Prosecutor’s office exhumed the bodies and began an investigation of the massacre in which a total of 23 people died. In early September, Human Rights organization Provea, denounced the fact that one of those being investigated, was retired General Roger Cordero Lara, one of the leaders of the massacre, who piloted one of the Broncos that led the attack. Provea asked Chavez’ party PSUV to withdraw the candidacy in order to stop the impunity on these cases.

Last Sunday, Roger Cordero Lara was elected as a Deputy for Circuit 2 of Guarico State under the PSUV party and now has immunity from Prosecution, unless the National Assembly and the Venezuelan Supreme Court removes it. This led Proeva to send this letter to Hugo Chavez and his party, noting the incoherence of backing Cordero Lara, as well as the precedent of impunity that this constitutes. Chavista groups have also raised their voices to protest, to no avail.

In the case of the Cantaura massacre, much like in other similar cases, military courts exonerated those involved, including General Cordero Lara in the Cantaura case, but the General Prosecutor has reopened the cases with the Cantaura case, being opened at the request of Hugo Chavez, but has yet to rule on any of them, which Provea suggests is due to the fact that many of those exonerated are pro-Chavez retired high ranking military like Cordero Lara. So much for the caring revolution!

But given that Chavez and PSUV did nothing when they could remove him as a candidate, it is highly unlikely that they would go through the complicated process of removing Cordero Lara’s immunity and impunity on the case will continue to prevail.

So much for the revolution…

Article on “Bandera Roja” translated into English:

Bandera Roja (BR) was a guerrilla group and later a political party in Venezuela. Was led by Gabriel Puerta Aponte. Initially known as Red Flag Movement (MBR), in later years was known as “Red Flag – Front Américo Silva (BR-FAS).” In its early was a Maoist guerrilla movement farmer of revolutionary violence, the main range were among public universities and high schools (secondary education centers) Venezuela.

Red Flag was formed on January 20, 1970 by a breakaway group of anti-revisionist wing of the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), which in turn was a splinter of the Democratic Action party (AD). The latter was the biggest game in votes, which along with COPEI, formed a bipartisan pact of institutional form created through the so-called Pact of Punto Fijo, and the PCV with the MIR were first outlawed and firmly pursued, then the Rafael Caldera’s government were allowed to participate in elections.

In the ideological red flag represents, in its origins, the strongest line of Marxism-Leninism, initially with a common ideology with the Albanian Party of Labor of Enver Hoxha, close to the policies of the late Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. His theories and practices after they were placed closer to other groups of extreme left residual Venezuelan armed struggle, as Revolutionary Organization (OR) led by Jorge Rodríguez, Julio Escalona and Marcos Gómez and legal front: the Socialist League and others .

Early career as a guerrilla organization

Red Flag starred in several guerrilla actions against the Army in the East of the country by Guerrilla Front “Antonio José de Sucre” which was a group of about 60 men and women under arms in the mountains and plains of eastern Venezuela (states Monagas and Anzoategui). Its top leaders were Carlos Betancourt, Tito Heredia González, Américo Silva and Gabriel Puerta Aponte.

On January 18, 1975 took place near the PRV-FALN an operation in which through a tunnel of 70 meters and 60 centimeters wide, 23 prisoners escaped politicians from both guerrilla groups that were held at the San Carlos in North Caracas. These accounts included: William José Álvarez Blanco (FALN) Leonardo Araque Carlos Carcamo (BR); Betancourt, Argenis (BR), Carlos Efrain Betancourt (BR), Vicente Antonio Contreras Duque (BR), Marco Tulio Croquer Horace ( BR), Antonio López Chang (BR), Jose Asdrubal Guzman Cordero (BR), Marco Antonio Ludeña Arocha (BR), Jesus Arnaldo Romero Marrero (BR), Ramon Morales Elías Rossi (FALN), Quentin Ramón Sánchez Moya (FALN); among others.

First Division

The Organization had a first division in March 1976 and losing the Guerrilla Front Command was divided leaving Puerta Aponte and Tito Gonzalez with the game itself and the neighborhood and labor fronts and Carlos Betancourt exclusively with the armed wing and created a parallel movement called Red Flag – Marxist-Leninist “whose initials were BR-ML and was short-lived as it dissolved itself following the partial dismantling suffered by Venezuela’s intelligence police, DISIP.

BR rebuilt the military and founded the guerrilla “Americo Silva” whose first operation was the release of several military cadres prisoners in the jail of La Pica in August 1977.

Slaughter of Cantaura

In early 1982, the Guerrilla Front was in a state of euphoria, came to get several military victories, including the taking of San Antonio de Maturin, San Félix de Caicara, the Excise of Santa Maria de Ipire (January 1982). At that time, FAS, he gave to the armed struggle eminently violent. For example, in dealing with barbecues where it caused several casualties to the army killed and wounded and a DISIP agent who was captured and later released. Making the people of Santa Ines and Brig sample was available for the control of that group.

By the end of September 1982, the guerrillas set out in the camp where the confrontation occurred later, was the same site used years ago as a refuge for escapees from the San Carlos headquarters.

The action began at 5:45 am on October 4, 1982. The State Security Forces were operating a classic purse in action combined land and air. Once located the guerrillas placed in strategic sites around, ambushes distributed in a semi-moon, forming several rings, then began the attack with the air force with planes bombing and strafing with Canberra aircraft OV-10 Bronco observation intensively. In this first assault, suffered six wounded face death without any fighter.

During two days of fighting guerrilla ambushes in ten falls, leaving 23 dead and several minor injuries and is permanently divided into three groups, each of which tries to break the siege by different routes. The group that breaks the siege led by Alirio Quintero Paredes and another group led by Alejandro Velasquez Guerra succeed.

Escaped nearly a dozen guerrillas, of which very few wanted to rebuild the Guerrilla Front later. All the bulk of the Front Command was killed in the clash. The commanders and fighters were killed in Cantaura: Roberto Antonio Rincon Cabrera (aka Sergio and The Catire, first commander), Enrique Jose Marquez Velasquez (aka Florencio, Deputy Commander); Empress Cordero Guzman (alias Sonia, or hump, Third Commander) ; Sister Fanny Alfonzo Salazar (aka Patricia and Pat, a member of the Command), Carlos Jesus Arzola Hernández, José Miguel Nunez (aka Rivas and Spaniard), Mauricio Tejada Carmen Rosa Garcia, (aka Rosie); Ildemar Lawrence Morillo, Carlos Sambrano Alberto Mira, María Luisa Arranz Estevez (aka Natalia) Antonio Maria Echegarreta Hernandez, Beatriz del Carmen Jimenez (alias Maira); Baudilio Veracierto Valdemar Herrera, Jorge Luis Becerra Navarro (aka Gilbert); Eumennedis Ysoida Gutiérrez Rojas (alias Heydy), Diego Alfredo Alfonso Carrasquel, José Luis Gómez, Eusebio Martel Daza (aka Sunday), Ruben Castro Alfredo Batista, Nelson Antonio Pacin Collaso, Julio César Farías Zerpa Ysidro Mejias and José Colina.

Recent years as a guerrilla

In the years after Red Flag was a self-truce, its existence being limited to universities and colleges of Education Media, rebuilding the Front “Americo Silva” only to provide training to its members, no other post operative function, and concentrating pro organizations forces the freedom of political prisoners, legal and facades dissolve the Committees of Popular Struggle (CLP) and professional bodies such as the Regional Federation of Secondary Education (FREM) from Caracas.

Finally in May 1994, the National Red Flag decided to disband the guerrilla fronts and a score of former guerrillas came down from the mountain as a symbolic surrender their weapons and pacified despite not having carried out armed actions in more than ten years . At this time, Red Flag emphasizes its political work in its two legal fronts, which used to attract cadres and members, were these the Revolutionary Youth Union (UJR) and the Movement for Popular Democracy (MDP). Of these walls came the second division of Red Flag 1992 when a lot of his paintings defected to the Revolutionary National Coordinator (CNR), whose student wing, the Youth Movement Ezequiel Zamora (MJEZ) Red Flag came to represent the high schools middle school and was totally lost. The people who comprise this division are the principal subsequently joined the Movimiento V Republica (MVR) and support the government of Hugo Chávez, unlike the Red Flag which is opposite to that government.

Red Flag supported both coups occurred in 1992 against then President Carlos Andrés Pérez and the coup of 11 April 2002 against President Hugo Chávez.

Conformation as a legal political party

His first record as a legal party is its emergence as Democratic Movement in the 1993 presidential election, when the candidacy of Gabriel Puerta Aponte by MDP card received 3,746 votes (0.07%).

In the 1989 election takes the form of legal political group and decide to participate with your card supporting the candidate Gabriel Puerta Aponte. Red flag while maintaining its socialist ideology, opposed from the outset the Chavez government (which has consistently held to be socialist), joined the opposition coalition called the Democratic Coordinator, participating in political actions opposing the party of Hugo Chávez. In this sense, the organization said that the drive to social sectors is due to consider Chavez a communist false and misleading the people of Venezuela.

In August 2006, the organization announced for the presidential elections on 3 December his apoyo1 Manuel Rosales (Social Democratic Party leader Un Nuevo Tiempo, and Zulia state governor) who was the candidate for much of the opposition parties, but not could prevent the reelection of Chávez.

Most of the historical ex-members organized around a new organization called the Popular Vanguard detached from the Venezuelan opposition trying to recover political presence in the capital and the east.

In the last parliamentary elections, held in September 2010, Red Flag, won 67,563 votes, representing 0.60% of the vote and it the fifteenth most votes Venezuelan party, yet it the eleventh game of the MUD opposition coalition, to grab the 1.26% of the votes of misma.

Bandera Roja says Chavez Frias has dragged left-wing banners into the mire

Celebrating 34 years of existence, Bandera Roja (BR) leader, Gabriel Puerta Aponte comments that Venezuela’s last guerrilla group is fighting the damage and mud-raking that the Chavez Frias administration has thrown over the traditional banners of the Left through the President’s demagogy … “what’s required now is not a left-wing, radical or revolutionary government ( that will come later) but a government that can get us out the crisis as soon as possible.”

In the company of BR general secretariat members, Armando Diaz, Rafael Venegas and Pedro Veliz Acuna, Puerta rejects accusations that BR is sharing policies with its traditional adversaries: Accion Democratica (AD) and the Christian Socialists (COPEI) as a compliment and says it shows political maturity … “if we speak about reconciliation, this is the best way to show that BR is not full of hatred … if we don’t show our sincerity, we would be like those taking about plurality, integration, unity but who want to hog everything when it comes to electoral processes.”

BR considers the unity factor as the Coordinadora Democratica’s biggest challenge and calls on would-be breakaway parties, Primero Justicia (PJ), Proyecto Venezuela (PV) and Causa R to sit down and discuss matters inside CD with transparency and responsibility.

There can be no return to the past, Puerto points out … ” the past is represented by a practice and conduct vis-a-vis power … before it was AD and COPEI … now it’s Movimiento Quinta Republica (MVR) and allies … Chavez Frias represents the past and continues the old practices of political cronyism, corruption, political segregation and treating the country like a feudal lord.”

“Chavez Frias has not approved a single measure that has annoyed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and foreign capital has been the greatest beneficiary with this government.”

BR now sees itself as attempting to consolidate a center-left tendency in Venezuela along with other parties, preparing for any pendulum political movement that could produce a right-wing government, unwilling to facilitate change in Venezuela.

Provide the PSUV and the slaughter of Cantaura

The NGO reports that an official candidate to the NA is one of the perpetrators of the deadly incident in 1982

The NGO Venezuelan Program of Action and Education (Give), reported on Thursday Queuña National Assembly candidate for the State of Guarico, Lara Roger Lamb is an author known for the slaughter of Cantaura. Here Provide the full statement:

One of the authors recognized the Slaughter of Cantaura today is PSUV candidate for Guarico. His name is Roger Cordero Lara. It will be recalled 28 years ago was an attack by armed forces against a concentration of guerrillas of Americo Silva, armed against the Red Flag Party, which was planning a military operation Cantaura policy, Anzoátegui state. Such an event happened to the pages of the Venezuelan political history as “The Slaughter of Cantaura.” 23 guerrillas were killed, 14 of them captured alive and finished by officials of the DISIP, the DIM and the elite troops of the battalions of hunters, constituting a severe violation of human rights at the time.

The then Lieutenant Roger Cordero Lara piloting one of the Broncos who bombed in Cantaura, as websites even claim near the Venezuelan government (http://www.revolucionbolivariana.es.tl/REVOLUCION-AL-DIA/index-1. htm). 24 years later became Major General and Commander in Chief of Aviation of the Bolivarian government, praised by President Chavez as a “true revolutionary general.” The day of his nomination as candidate for the State of Guarico, which was held on 03.05.1910, Cordero Lara said: “I constituted loyal supporter of the National Simon Bolivar Project. All must be loyal to this project that is beneficial to the group, which is why I show my full willingness and I become the basis for instrument approaches lead to the National Assembly. ” The nomination was accepted by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), so that the perpetrator of the Slaughter of Cantaura is running for circuit 2 of the entity, with Altuve Lidice, Oscar Figuera, General Secretary of Communist Party Venezuela-Jesus Cepeda and Alfredo Ureña.

Cordero Lara’s bid for the PSUV is inconsistent with the Government’s words against impunity in the so-called massacres of the Fourth Republic. ” The tolerance in this situation is an incentive to abuse of power and in fact dismisses the plight of the family to achieve justice in the case, and is an example of the inefficiency of the Attorney General’s Office, Luisa Ortega Diaz, who on October 27, 2009 reaffirmed its “commitment to solving the case”

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