Venezuelan newspapers were ablaze yesterday with reports on the seemingly traitorous actions of Venezuela's Archbishop, Baltazar Porras, who heads the Council of Bishops of Venezuela.
A WikiLeaks document (See Cable) from January, 2005, details a visit to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas on January 6, 2005, by Porras, the highest serving Catholic bishop in Venezuela, Archbishop of Venezuela. Porras sought the help of then U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield and his government in "containing the aspirations" of Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez.
To this end, the Archbishop offered the U.S. government the use of the Catholic church's infrastructure and programs within Venezuela, and especially those within the barrio or ghetto areas, to strengthen the fight against Chavez and his Bolivarian socialism.
Archbishop Porras told the U.S. Ambassador that the U.S. must be "more explicit" in its criticisms of Chavez, who he referred to as a "large problem" that must be "dealt with rapidly".
The Archbishop wanted the U.S. to mount an international campaign as well as an internal campaign within Venezuela against President Chavez.
Porras specifically asked the U.S. Ambassador to institute an international campaign to attack President Chavez in Latin America and Europe.
The Archbishop indicated that Brazil's president, Lula da Silva, had been asked to participate in such a campaign, but that da Silva had declined. He expressed disappointment that Europe had been too weak to take such actions, especially since Spain's former conservative President, Jose Maria Aznar, was no longer in a position of power.
Undoubtedly, the Archbishop is also quite disappointed that former Spanish dictator, General Francisco Franco, is no longer alive to counter Hugo Chavez. Undoubtedly, Archbishop Porras would favor a General Franco to wipe out Venezuelan socialism. Porras actively supported the 2002 right-wing coup d'etat against Hugo Chavez in 2002. His chosen candidate to replace the democratically elected Chavez was the then president of the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fedecámaras), Pedro Carmona. Carmona's first acts as putative president after President Chavez was kidnapped from the presidential palace was to abolish all the democratically elected institutions in Venezuela as well as the Supreme Court.
Archbishop's repetitive attacks against President Chavez almost become laughable, as he consistently criticizes Chavez for being undemocratic. Coming as it does from a top official in one of the most undemocratic organizations in the world -- the Catholic Church -- and especially from an official who enthusiastically supported an anti-democratic coup d'etat, his complaints about democracy ring very hollow.
In today's "Pico Bolivar", a major newspaper in Porras's home state of Merida Venezuela ("Pico's website no longer carries this story),Porras responds to the news of his conversation with Ambassador Brownfield by denying that the conversation, which was repeated in detail in Brownfield's cable, ever took place. He claims that WikiLeaks published calumnes against him, implicitly suggesting that the WikiLeaks cable was trumped up to attack him.
Just as the Catholic Archbishop lacks credibility when complaining about lack of democracy, so he lacks credibility in denying the authenticity of the Brownfield cable, one of 250,000 such cables to and from U.S. embassies all over the world. Why would WikiLeaks take the time to falsely "calumny" a relatively unknown figure like Porras?
Porras committed a criminal act by actively supporting the 2002 coup, although President Chavez chose not to prosecute him. One wonders if Chavez's restraint will continue when the WikiLeaks cable shows Archbishop Porras to have potentially committed yet another traitorous act by asking a foreign government to conspire to act inside Venezuela to attack its democratically elected President and his socialist government.