A Basque terrorist whom authorities lost track of in 2008 after being sentenced to 3,000 years in prison in Spain for the murders of 25 people has resurfaced in Venezuela. Spanish television station Antena 3 published images of José Ignacio De Juana Chaos celebrating Mother’s Day in Venezuela six years after disappearing in Ireland.
The images show De Juana Chaos pushing a stroller with his son in it and shopping with his wife in a mall in the northern Venezuelan state of Anzoátegui. These are the first images of the terrorist in Venezuela that have surfaced, though Spanish newspaper ABC notes that the Spanish embassy in Venezuela and Interpol had been warned of sightings of the terrorist in the nation.
De Juana Chaos was condemned to 3,000 years in prison for 25 murders during eleven individual acts of terror. He was released in 2008 after conducting a hunger strike that made the Spanish government concerned enough for his health to move him to a hospital. Upon his release, he attended an event in his honor in the Spanish autonomous region of the Basque Country in which a letter he signed, which the Spanish government deemed designed to incite terrorism, was read. De Juana Chaos had left for Northern Ireland immediately after, and the Spanish government did not have time to request extradition before he disappeared from Northern Ireland, as well.
The Spanish Judiciary intends to request that Venezuela extradite De Juana Chaos but cannot act without official communication from either Interpol or President Mariano Rajoy. These communications would confirm that De Juana Chaos is, indeed, in Venezuela–a confirmation necessary for a request for extradition. According to El Universal, Judge Eloy Velasco appeared “little optimistic over the possibility that Caracas would extradite him if Spain requested it.” Venezuela is also home to another ETA terrorist, Arturo Cubillas, whom the Chavista government has done little to capture.
The revelation that Venezuela is harboring Basque terrorists raises concerns that have been prevalent since Hugo Chávez’s days in power that the nation harbors anti-“imperialist” terrorist criminals. In 2009, Rep. Connie Mack introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to add Venezuela to the list of official state sponsors of terrorism for their support of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist guerrilla organization funded by illegal drug trafficking that almost turned Colombia into a failed state in the 1990s. The bill did not pass, but a year later, the Heritage Foundation called for revisiting the topic, noting not only Venezuela’s support of the FARC, but its ties to other state sponsors of terrorism, particularly Iran and Cuba, and support from Syria.
This weekend, in a public event, Caracas will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the FARC’s reign of terror, and protection from the law is “guaranteed.” Nicolás Maduro’s government has also attempted to participate in peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC in Havana and has supported the dialogue.