Friday 26 April 2013

Venezuela’s Argo moment

Tracy doesn't fit the profile (Photo: family handout)
Yesterday Venezuelan authorities arrested Timothy Hallett Tracy, a US citizen and aspiring documentary film-maker, accusing him of being part of a master plot to foment a right-wing revolt.

Tracy, 35, had been active in the film business in California, having worked as a consultant and producer. He has been in Venezuela since last year, and had been detained twice by Venezuela’s intelligence police before his arrest at the international airport in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.

Tensions are high in Venezuela. President Nicolás Maduro, who succeeded the late Hugo Chávez, narrowly defeated the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski in an election held April 14. Capriles has said he was robbed of victory, and is challenging the vote. During post-election rioting at least seven people were killed and many more injured.

So far, we have been given little evidence against Tracy save a press conference alleging that he was part of what the government has dubbed the “April Connection” (Conexión Abril). Apparently, Tracy, who is accused of financing the anti-government riots that occurred on April 14 and 16, was to sow dissent and bring about a coup that would then result in a US-supported regime.

The assumption is that he was working as a direct agent of the United States. However, friends of Tracy have said that the Georgetown University graduate had no connection with any government.

“Tim Tracy is not affiliated with any governmental intelligence agency — is not even remotely associated,” Tracy’s friend Jesse Herman told the Washington Post.

Herman, who studied at Georgetown University with Tracy, added:  “The whole thing is ridiculous. It’s almost comical, the way he’s being portrayed.”

The US government has emphatically denied that Tracy was working for them. However, the Venezuelan government alleges that Tracy had received funds from an unidentified foreign non-governmental organization (NGO), and had directed that money to anti-government student organizations involved in the protests.

A video has been presented by the Venezuelan government to support its case against Tracy. In one scene viewed by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) “young people are seen making jokes in a dark room”. In another scene an opposition figure speaks about demonstrations. The government alleges that a search of Tracy’s apartment resulted in dozens of videos and photographs proving Tracy’s involvement in an anti-government plot.

According to press reports, Tracy was about to leave Venezuela when he was arrested. A campaign is now underway to secure his release.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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