Bolivarian Intelligence Service

SEBIN, the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional ("Bolivarian National Intelligence Service"), is the premier intelligence agency in Venezuela. It was established in March 1969 with the name of DISIP, Dirección Nacional de los Servicios de Inteligencia y Prevención ("National Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services"), by then-president Rafael Caldera, replacing the Dirección General de Policía (DIGEPOL). SEBIN is an internal security force subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior. As of October 2009, the Minister of the Interior and Justice of the Venezuelan Government is Tarek El Aissami, appointed by President Hugo Chávez.

The Venezuelan political police has an extensive record of human rights violations, from its foundation as hard-line dictator's Marcos Pérez Jiménez's police, who were in charge of torturing so-called "enemies of State", to its role as a base of operations against post-Revolution Cuba for the Central Intelligence Agency and Cuban exiles such as Luis Posada Carriles (who headed the Counterintelligence division), to recent allegations of torture and murder of political opponents. In their 1997 and 1998 reports, Amnesty International details human rights violations by DISIP, including unlawful detention of Venezuelan human rights activists.

A murderous rampage against suspected looters in the state of Vargas following the 1999 mudslides became, according to Human Rights Watch, "the first major human rights test of the Chávez government. At first, Chávez dismissed the reports as 'suspicious' and 'superficial,' but the evidence soon obliged the president and other top government officials to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation." Human Rights Watch expressed their deep concern over DISIP (and National Guard) abuse in Venezuela in a 2004 personal letter to President Hugo Chávez. Amnesty International has also expressed concern over excessive use of force by the DISIP, and the increasing polarization and political violence in Venezuela since Chávez was elected in December 1998.

On December 4, 2009, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, during a swearing-in ceremony for the high command of the recently created Bolivarian National Police (Policía Nacional Bolivariana), announced the change of name of DISIP, with immediate effect, to Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia, or Sebin).

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