Remember that Argentine briefcase incident?

Yeah, I know…me neither. But apparently it’s a big deal in Miami, where the hatred for all things Chavez knows no bounds, and neither do the plans to sabotage him. And yes, this is one of those. It supposedly casts doubt on the election of Cristina Fernandez, the president of Argentina–supposedly. I’ve long had a sneaking feeling it was all bullshit. And now, when nobody’s looking, suddenly the truth comes out. And lo and behold, the truth is that it WAS all bullshit:

Jaime Bayly, the Peruvian writer who has never hidden his aversion to President Hugo Chavez, admitted in his column “Lost Papers” this 28th of January in the Correo del Peru that he met Guido Antonini Wilson in the beginning of 2002, the year of the coup d’etat.

Wilson freely confessed to being friends with ex-president Carlos Andres Perez, and to being opposed to President Chavez, whose time in office, he asserted, would soon come to an end.

“Chavez won’t last. He’ll fall soon. We’re going to topple him…he’s going to end up in jail,” Antonini told Bayly. A few months later, the April 2002 coup occurred, which removed President Chavez from power for 40 hours.

Antonini Wilson is the Venezuelan-American businessman who was arrested in August 2007 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, carrying a briefcase with some $800,000 US which he did not declare to customs authorities. Later, he escaped to Miami, where he is protected by US authorities.

Bayly’s assertions are of interest, given that various sources have accused Antonini of working for the Venezuelan government, with the objective of handing over the money to the then-presidential candidate Cristina Fernandez.

Translation mine.

Of course, there is no way in Hades that Cristina Fernandez would have accepted that cash. A woman who denounces US imperialism in no uncertain terms would be rather reluctant to take any amount of Yanqui dinero, no?

Add to that the fact that this cash came directly from Miami, that the bearer was a friend of another Miamero fugitive, none other than the spectacularly crooked Carlos Andres Perez (who is most noteworthy for saying that Chavecito deserved to “die like a dog”), and bragged of being part of a conspiracy to bring Chavecito down some three months before the fact, and you have some pretty clear indicators that he was also planning to bring down a good friend and ally of said Chavecito, yes?

A translation of the full article by Bayly follows.

It was in the first days of 2002, winter in Key Biscayne, if you could call such a splendid sunny day “winter”. I lived in a house on Caribbean Street, a yellow house, one-storey, one of the oldest on the island. I was caught up in writing a novel titled The Hurricane Bears Your Name. I would pass the nights writing, listening to the meowing of the cats and the spatterings of the lawn sprinklers that turned themselves on automatically. Whenever I was hungry, I would get on my bike and pedal down to the 7-11.

One night, as I was getting off my bike at the 7-11, a tall, obese man said to me: “What’s going on in your life? I never see you anymore on TV.”

I told him I had been yanked from TV in Miami since my last program had been cancelled. The executives of the TV network had accused me of being “too intellectual and gay for the Mexicans in California.”

The man pressed a button to switch off the alarm on his grey, late-model Mercedes sports car. I sensed that, in pressing that button, he had experienced a definite, emphatic pleasure, of a kind that always seemed elusive to me.

To my surprise, he asked me where I lived.

“On Caribbean road, near the Sonesta Hotel,” I told him.

“I hae a hotel beside the Sonesta,” he told me.

“The Silver Sands?” I asked.

“That’s mine,” he said.

“Congratulations, man,” I said.

“I invite you to come by tomorrow and see if any of the cabins by the sea interest you. They’re the shit. Enrique Iglesias sometimes comes by with his girlfriends.”

He pulled out his wallet and gave me his card.

“Call me,” he said.

He got into his car. I looked at the card. It read: Guido Antonini Wilson.

The next day, I called. I didn’t get a chance to see him, but I was interested in seeing the cabins in which Enrique Iglesias got up to no good. Or so said Guido, a strange name in any case. He told me he’d come by to see me that evening.

Mr. Antonini came to get me in a different car than he’d used the previous night. It was a big, dark-blue, four-door Mercedes. When I got in, I smelled that distinctive new-car smell that clings to all cars recently driven off the dealer’s lot.

When we got to the hotel, he ushered me into his office. He sat down at a desk and told me that this hotel belonged to his wife and her family, but it was he who ran it as if it were his own, and I was welcome there anytime. It wasn’t clear to me (these things are never clear) if he was telling me that he would not charge me if I stayed in his hotel.

A little later, we walked down toward the ocean-view cabins. I was horrified by the decor.

“They’re perfect for writing in”, I lied.

Before we left, I asked him which was the cabin in which Enrique hid out with his girlfriends. He showed me to the African cabin, tiger-striped, with animal skins and elephant tusks, and said, pointing to the bed, “That’s where Enrique Iglesias got laid.”

Later, he added, “Whenever you want, come on by.”

“Thanks,” I said.

“It’d be an honor for me to have you,” he said.

It wasn’t clear whether the honor he was alluding to would get me out of paying for the cabin.

When we got into his car, I thought he’d take me home. I was wrong. Guido told me that his wife was eager to meet me. He didn’t ask if I was eager to reciprocate.

He lived in an apartment in Grand Bay, with all possible luxuries. We had gotten midway through the run of the apartment before his wife showed any signs of life. When we passed through the kitchen, an employee said that the lady was in the laundry room.

Guido’s wife, Jacqueline, was pleasant and distinguished, but not really pretty. She greeted me with a distant air, like someone greeting somebody who inspires, at times, curiosity and awe.

“I never miss your programs,” she said to me.

I didn’t get the feeling she was so eager to meet me. I felt that she was eager to go on tidying up the clothes with the maniacal attention to detail of a bored millionairess.

Guido led me to his library. He said it was a library because that was what he called it, not because there were any books. He sat down at his desk, and offered me a drink. I told him I didn’t drink alcohol. He looked shocked, then offered me mineral water and poured himself a whisky.

At last we got to talking about politics.

He told me Chavez was a disgrace, that he had installed a corrupt, authoritarian regime, that Chavez’s buddies were getting awfully rich, that no one could make money unless he had ties to the regime. He told me he was a friend of Carlos Andres Perez, that they talked often, that Carlos Andres was in Santo Domingo, but often came to Miami.

I told him I knew Carlos Andres, that I had interviewed him in 1997 or ’98. He reached for the phone, called Carlos Andres, and told him he was with me. He sent me his greetings. He told him that when he came to Miami, we should get together, the three of us, and talk politics.

They talked of some things I didn’t understand, then hung up.

My friend Guido poured himself another drink and said to me:

“Chavez won’t last. He’ll fall soon. We’re going to topple him.”

I told him that would be difficult, seeing as the army supported him and many of his colleagues occupied key posts.

“Listen to me,” he insisted. “We’re going to bring Chavez down. He’s gonna wind up in jail.”

I thought he was bullshitting, just showing off his power and connections.

A little later he took me into the garage and showed me his collection of luxury cars: Hummers, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Mercedeses.

“Anytime you want, you can borrow one of these and take your girls to Orlando,” he surprised me by saying.

I had told him that I would be taking my daughters to Disneyworld in a few days.

“Thanks, but I can’t,” I told him.

“Take the Hummer,” he insisted.

“But what if I crash it?”

“Nothing,” he said. “They’re all insured.”

“But the insurance won’t cover me,” I said.

“You won’t crash,” he said. “And if you do crash it, we’ll just say I was driving.”

After this display of his wealth, Mr. Antonini took me back to my old yellow house, built in 1953.

“Call me when your daughters arrive,” he said.

A week later, my girls arrived, and I told them I’d met a strange Venezuelan magnate who had shown me his collection of fancy cars and offered me one of them to take them to Disney.

“I’m not calling him,” I said.

“You’re crazy,” they said. “Call him!”

“But what if he’s rich fugitive from justice?”

“That doesn’t matter! Call him!”

In spite of my worries, I called him. He didn’t answer. I left a message. He didn’t call back. I called two or three more times. Left messages. He didn’t call.

A few months later, in April, I read that there had been a coup against Chavez. I remembered my friend Guido, and his emphatic words: “Chavez won’t last. We’re going to topple him.”

I called him to ask what was going on in Caracas. He didn’t answer. I never saw him again, until one morning, five years later, when I opened a paper in Buenos Aires and saw the picture of that pudgy goodfella, accused of being “the man with the briefcase”, the mysterious passenger who arrived on a private flight from Caracas and tried to illegally bring in a briefcase with $800,000.

The first thing I thought was, good thing he didn’t lend me his Hummer to go to Disneyworld. The next thing I said to myself was, But this chubby guy can’t be conspiring against Chavez?

Then I imagined his wife, meticulously tidying the clothes in the laundry room of that luxury apartment, silently hating him.

And there you have it, folks. A pretty conv
incing account of what kind of a man Guido Antonini Wilson really is: Hates Chavez. Good friend of Carlos Andres Perez. Bragged of his wealth, his hotel, his luxury car collection. Drank a lot of whisky–a favorite libation of the Venezuelan opposition, who swill that stuff like it’s going out of style. Knew a coup was coming, and hinted strongly that he had some part in it: “Chavez won’t last. We’re going to topple him.” And lo and behold, there was indeed a coup not long after, although it didn’t end the way Antonini said it would. Chavez was not jailed; he came back.

You don’t suppose Antonini & Co. are still at it, and still trying to bring him down with cheap tricks like the Argentine briefcase incident, do you? Nahhhh…couldn’t be.

Looks like this cheesy saga still has a few chapters in it, since the US is protecting Antonini and refusing to hand him over to the Argentine authorities for prosecution (but they are prosecuting five men they claim are “agents of the Venezuelan government”, to which I call BULLSHIT!) Look for a lot of hypocrisy and doubletalk coming out of Miami, folks, and remember–if they’ll protect a known terrorist like Luis Posada Carriles or the Alpha 66 guys, they’ll certainly have no qualms about protecting a mobbed-up hotelier who tried to commit treason in Venezuela AND Argentina.

Oh, and one last thing: If ever I find myself in Key Biscayne (and I hope to Goddess I never do), I won’t be stopping by the Silver Sands to see the tacky ocean-front cabin where Enrique Iglesias got laid.

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