As a regular fan of Con El Mazo Dando, I always suspected that the Patriotas Cooperantes, the mysterious network of government informants that infiltrate opposition ranks and compile dirt for Diosdado to use as defamatory fodder, didn’t actually exist. I was more inclined to dismiss them as fictional characters concocted in a VTV basement somewhere, to give the illegal espionage activities carried out by state intelligence agents a more folksy, colorful allure.
Now, thanks to an exposé by Jesús Alberto Yajure on RunRun.es we know that they not only exist, but also that they are (and forgive my generalization to all those Patriotas Cooperantes out there that are just doing their honest day’s work) sick, degenerate criminal psychopaths.
What’s more, they are now being used by the chavista propaganda machine to orchestrate a media-fueled political scandal that could implicate opposition leaders in a gruesome murder investigation, just in time for parliamentary elections.
José Rafael Pérez Venta and Carlos Trejo, two Patriotas Cooperantes, were arrested last week after confessing to the grisly murder of Liana Aixa Hergueta, a 52-year-old woman found hacked to pieces in her car. According to police reports, Trejo hired Pérez Venta to kill Hergueta because she “defamed him on social media,” after tweeting that he’d ripped her off during a routine forex transaction. Pérez Venta lured Hergueta into an apartment in western Caracas, tied her to a chair, and suffocated her with duct-tape. He then proceeded to dismember her, place the body parts in plastic bags, and stuff them into her car, which he ditched in another location.
Perez Venta and Trejo’s lurid work as government informants is amply documented in the RunRun.es piece. It’s a thorough, if convoluted, report and definitely worth a read. It describes how the two went to great lengths to pose as student leaders and opposition party activists during the 2014 protest movement in order to ID demonstrators and turn them over to the State Intelligence Agency, SEBIN. Pérez Venta was even arrested (and subsequently released) during one of the brutal police raids on student camps that resulted in human rights violations, mass detentions of activists and the spreading of fear that eventually quashed the protest movement altogether.
One of the most heartbreaking victims of Venta and Trejo’s snitching enterprise is Araminta González, a 33-year old opposition activist who took them into her apartment in Guarenas during the student protests because they claimed they were being politically persecuted. Gonzalez was arrested on July 24, 2014 on charges of terrorism, conspiracy and manufacturing of explosives. She was allegedly tortured during questioning, and sits in prison awaiting trial to this day.
Three days before Gonzalez was taken into custody, Venta and Trejo, who had been her houseguests for close to two weeks, locked her out of her apartment, stole her laptop, cell phone and some jewelry, and took off. Records of González’s arrest mention that the police were tipped off by a call from…a Patriota Cooperante.
During their runs as first-class rats, Trejo and Perez Venta took great pains to associate themselves with the opposition. Pérez Venta boasts an impressive collection of photo-ops with pretty much every high-profile leader in the MUD, and has actively identified with at least two opposition parties, Leopoldo López’s Voluntad Popular and Antonio Ledezma’s Alianza Bravo Pueblo at one point or another. Trejo, on the other hand, preferred to frequent Primero Justicia events and rallies.
Which is clearly enough of a reason for Interior and Justice Minister Gustavo González López to publicly conclude that Henrique Capriles, Antonio Ledezma and María Corina Machado are obviously linked to the murder of Liana Aixa Hergueta, and for Mayor of Caracas Jorge Rodriguez to categorically implicate Voluntad Popular, Primero Justicia and paramilitary operatives, in this crime, on State TV.
And while we’re on the topic of State TV, let’s not forget that Chavismo gladly used its unilateral and unrestricted access to All State-Run Print And Broadcast Media to disavow any connection with Pérez Venta or Trejo (who were even kicked out of the Association of Patriotas Cooperantes in primetime), while the opposition took to…Twitter to defend itself from slanderous accusations.
Meanwhile, Trejo and Pérez Venta, who are currently being held in Tocuyito Prision in the state of Carabobo, have petitioned a court for a transfer to SEBIN headquarters in Caracas, expressing their wish to “cooperate” in the ongoing murder investigation. If there’s one thing these two are good at…