Homescented soapHow CAP bought the rightwing perezjimenista and lopecista

How CAP bought the rightwing perezjimenista and lopecista

We know a lot about the leftist struggle against Rómulo Betancourt, we know about his heroism and that Carlos Andrés Pérez was the minister of torture and murder, but we know little about the right-wing subversion against that regime. The attack on Los Próceres rang out, where Betancourt's hands were burned, ironically fulfilling the threat against himself that he had formulated by saying "My hands will burn if I put them in the public treasury."

 There is no solid evidence of a communist-rightist alliance, although it is logical to the point of obviousness that there should have been. Here they are revealed, the most surprising, fulfilling that from where least expected the hare jumps.

Rómulo Betancourt's apprehensions were not exaggerated, nor were John Kennedy's concerns about the possibility of a leftist seizure of power in Venezuela gratuitous. This is clear from the following narration, which I owe to Miguel Moreno, a politician and conspirator, very far to the right, linked to the death of Carlos Delgado Chalbaud. He had lived in exile since the 1952 elections, when the colonels who carried out that coup discovered that he secretly supported Jóvito Villalba. After the fall of Pérez Jiménez, where he had a hand in presenting Betancourt, Villalba and Caldera allied against PJ, without communism, to the CIA, he returned to Venezuela for a month, once again being expelled for a conspiratorial recidivism. Betancourt did not allow him to return either, but in the days that are narrated here he had surreptitiously entered the country, invited by Carlos Andrés Pérez, Minister of Interior Relations of Betancourt but at the same time his old colleague from the Uribante Group, a lodge of Andeans of whom half were members of the Acción Democrática party, that is, adecos, and half were militarists, without missing «urredecos» or marginal communists in the official PCV structure. The uribanteros helped each other, protected each other. Carlos Andrés Pérez surprised Moreno with the following confession of intentions: 

«—The guerrilla is about to take power. And I'm not going to let myself be shot, which is what they have in store for me. I'm going to go there, I'm already organizing the communist coup d'état. It will be my contribution. 

Distressing was the confession for Moreno. He was subverting Betancourt, he had a plan to kill him, but nothing was further from his intention than to serve as a ladder for a communist takeover in Venezuela. CAP explained a way out. One was so that "communism would not reign in Venezuela." One and not two. Moreno could help, that's why he had called him. Moreno breathed calmly.

"What Carlos Andrés wanted," Moreno explained to the author of this text, "was a meeting with Dr. Luis Gerónimo Pietri, to try to reconcile with the right." Luis Gerónimo Pietri was an eminence, the lawyer of General López Contreras, head of a good part of the right-wing subversion, for old merits, although it should not be discounted that General Pérez Jiménez was in prison and therefore furious. But there were injuries, it was not easy to talk between Carlos Andrés Pérez, romulero, and Luis Gerónimo, lopecista. "You can help," Carlos Andrés repeated to me. It was the last possibility of settlement. If not, he already knew the alternative. To do? I organized the meeting as a friend of "doctor Geronimo" and Carlos Andrés, and we had it in the country house of a doctor Santander, who was a close friend of all. 

Dr. Pietri laid out his plan: guarantees are suspended, the government outlaws the Communist Party, and all imprisoned communists are seized, without trial, and sent to an island. And the government expands its base by incorporating ministers appointed by General López Contreras. Carlos Andrés was displeased. He had ordered the killing of many men but he protested, he said that massive and illegal prisons were not the procedures of democracy. That if he did that, the Betancourt government would be the same as the dictatorships he condemned, the same as Trujillo, as Pérez Jiménez. What he did was serve the whiskies, he didn't intervene. Then Dr. Luis Gerónimo brought up the other idea that he had in his head, the second. He brought it in case the first one failed, because that was a bargain. He said thus:

—The following can be done. The Communist Party is outlawed by decree and the decree is sent to the Supreme Court for it to decide. All legal. There are going to be communist demands, obviously, accusing the decree of being fascist, criminal, etc., and others from the right, which we will introduce, saying that this is a communist decree in disguise. So, the Supreme Court decides by half and the communists are imprisoned with the legalism that President Betancourt wants. Carlos Andrés was thoughtful. 

When we were leaving, Dr. Pietri asked me: 

"Do you think this boy understood the arrangement?" Look, for that move to work well, they need to have the Supreme Court, no mischief is going to come out of there. 

-I think so. 

And so it was done. Betancourt ordered the arrest and legally imprisoned the communists. Or, as he put it, "precautionary." And Dr. Luis Gerónimo Pietri installed himself in an office of the Ministry of the Interior, next to that of Carlos Andrés, and there he called all the right-wingers and forgave them the accounts they had with the government. The one who had a conviction for having planted a bomb, forgiven; the one who owed a large fine that the government had imposed on him, forgiven. The one who had a dead person on top, forgiven. The one who wanted a credit from the Venezuelan Development Corporation, granted. And so. Because that was the other half of the arrangement. The forgiveness of those on the right. If the persecutions did not stop, we would not pacify ourselves and the country would be taken over by communism.

In the end, the day they finished, we toasted. And Carlos Andrés thanked Dr. Pietri for his work for the political stability of Venezuela and the preservation of its democracy and asked him what his payment was. Pietri replied that he did not want anything for himself, that these were jobs that he did with joy for Venezuela, but that he did request something for General López Contreras, which was his representative. 

"What does the general want, doctor?"

—That he be forgiven a fine of fourteen million bolivars that the Civil Responsibility Jury of 45 imposed on him and that he refused to request that it be forgiven for considering it a root illegality.

- How not doctor. I am going to consult President Betancourt and I am sure that he will agree. Take it for granted.

And it was a fact,” Moreno explained. The fourteen million were paid, of course, at the current exchange rate, and to seal the reconciliation, Betancourt put a medal on General López Contreras's chest. And it wasn't that he decorated him in the palace, it's that he traveled with the decoration to General López's villa, as a special deference to a hero of democracy, and there he placed it. 

Thus, democracy in power was stabilized, lopecismo accepted that it was the past and Carlos Andrés did not have to become a communist. 

Leonardo Altuve Carrillo, who was an old-fashioned man with very rigid principles, did not accept the arrangement. He wrote a public letter to López, criticizing him for receiving the award from a man he had always despised. "That award is the execution of his historical figure," I remember him writing. General López said, mocking. 

"Yes, Dr. Altuve killed me for that award." He killed me.

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