Saturday, March 11, 2006

Venezuela expresses alarm: FBI terror agents question recognized US academic

10 de marzo de 2006


The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela today expressed its alarm at a report published by New America Media stating that FBI agents had questioned a recognized U.S. academic on his relations with Venezuela, if he had ever been asked to speak in Venezuela's favor, and on links between Venezuela and terrorism.

Two agents from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) visited Miguel Tinker-Salas, a widely respected professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California, on Tuesday, March 7.

He was questioned for 20 minutes on a number of issues related to Venezuela. Several of Professor Tinker-Salas’ students were also questioned, and the agents took note of cartoons displayed on his door. Tinker-Salas, who was born in Venezuela and identifies himself as a critic of U.S. foreign policy, noted in the published report that he considered the questions an attempt "to intimidate and silence" him.

The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela considers this incident a violation of the freedoms of expression, thought and academic inquiry, and views the move as a desperate attempt to link Venezuela to terrorism. The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela also believes this incident draws comparisons to the Cold War, when academics and activists were regularly questioned and intimidated by government officials for their political views.

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a pluralistic, free and sovereign country, one that maintains relations with academics of all political leanings.

The Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela recently helped Michael Shifter, Vice President of the Inter-American Dialogue, professor at Georgetown University, and critic of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in setting up meetings with high government officials, including the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for North America, the president of the National Assembly and the country's vice president, and did so with in respecting his academic activities and inquiries.

Venezuela condemns the actions taken by the FBI agents, expresses its solidarity with the academic community in the United States, calls upon U.S. authorities to provide an explanation for this incident and their policy towards Venezuela, and demands respect for our sovereignty.