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Bolivarian Intelligence Service

Bolivarian National Intelligence Service
Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional
Seal of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service
El Helicoide building in Caracas - headquarters of SEBIN
Agency overview
Formed June 2, 2010 (2010-06-02)
Preceding agency DISIP
Headquarters Caracas, Venezuela
Employees Classified
Agency executive Gustavo González López, Minister of Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace
Parent agency Ministry of Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace

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.

Pre-Bolivarian Revolution

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[1] (who headed the Counterintelligence division[2]), to recent allegations of torture and murder of political opponents.[3][4][5] In their 1997 and 1998 reports, Amnesty International details human rights violations by DISIP, including unlawful detention of Venezuelan human rights activists.[6][7]

Post-Bolivarian Revolution

In March 2004, Amnesty International stated in a report following 2004 Venezuela recall protests that SEBIN (then DISIP) "allegedly used excessive force to control the situation on a number of occasions".[8]

Change of name

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).[9]

Domestic actions

Public surveillance

In an El Nuevo Herald, former SEBIN officials and security experts state that the Venezuelan government has allegedly spent millions of dollars to spy on Venezuelans; using Italian and Russian technology to monitor emails, keywords and telephone conversations of its citizens; especially those who use the dominant, state-controlled telecommunications provider CANTV. Acquired information is used to create a "person of interest" for Venezuelan authorities, where only selected individuals could have been fully spied on and where a database had been created to monitor those who publicly disagreed with the Bolivarian Revolution.[10]

Surveillance on the Venezuelan Jewish community

In January 2013, 50 documents were leaked by the "right-leaning" Analisis24 showing that SEBIN had been spying on "private information on prominent Venezuelan Jews, local Jewish organizations and Israeli diplomats in Latin America". Some info that was gathered by SEBIN operations included office photos, home addresses, passport numbers and travel itineraries. The leaked documents were believed to be authentic according to multiple sources which included the Anti-Defamation League, that stated, "It is chilling to read reports that the SEBIN received instructions to carry out clandestine surveillance operations against members of the Jewish community".[11][12]

2014–15 Venezuelan protests

Seven SEBIN members caused the first deaths of the 2014–15 Venezuelan protests on 12 February 2014 after shooting at unarmed, fleeing, protesters several times in violation of protocol, which resulted in the deaths of Bassil Da Costa and Juan Montoya.[13][14] Days later on the 17 February, armed SEBIN agents raided the headquarters of Popular Will in Caracas and held individuals that were inside at gunpoint.[15] According to El Nacional, SEBIN had raided facilities of reporters and human rights defenders several times.[16] It was also stated that SEBIN occasionally intimidated reporters by following them in unmarked vehicles where SEBIN personnel would "watch their homes and offices, the public places like bakeries and restaurants, and would send them text messages to their cell phones".[16]

United States sanctions

Following alleged human rights violations by SEBIN during the protests, President Barack Obama used powers granted from the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 and ordered the United States Department of the Treasury to freeze assets and property of the Director General of SEBIN, Gustavo Enrique González López and the former Director General, Manuel Gregorio Bernal Martínez.[17]

International actions

United States

In 2012, Livia Acosta Noguera and at least 10 other SEBIN agents that were allegedly operating under the guise of diplomatic missions left the United States following a controversy involving Acosta.[18] In a Univision documentary, while Acosta was a cultural attaché in Mexico, she allegedly met with Mexican students posing as hackers that were supposedly planning to launch cyberattacks on the White House, the FBI, The Pentagon and several nuclear plants.[19][20][21] After an FBI investigation and reactions from members of the United States congress, the United States Department of State declared Acosta Persona non grata.[19][20]

Despite the withdrawal of SEBIN agents, the government of Nicolás Maduro allegedly "maintains a network of spies in the United States, formed by supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution who are paid handsomely" according to former SEBIN officials.[18] The former officials also stated that the contributions of "spies" is maintained by members of the "Patriotas Cooperantes" and from open source contributions, such as from press reports or information posted on websites.[18] The Venezuelan government has used such tactics to reportedly observe government opposition organizations in the United States and has allegedly spied on United States government officials such as Cuban-American senator and representative Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), respectively.[18][22]


This federal entity could be considered the only security agency in Venezuela that never participates in any direct involvement with the general public.[citation needed] The DISIP doesn't patrol the public roads, arrest civilians or do regular law enforcement work like police departments,[citation needed] doesn't participate in any police raids, joint task forces or operations not related to the ministry of interior and justice.[citation needed] Is an agency that combines their counterparts of the FBI, CIA, Secret Service and US Marshal core work, such as counterterrorism, intelligence, counterintelligence, government investigations, background investigations and provides protection/escort for high-ranking government officials, among other federally mandated duties.[citation needed] Officers of this agency are rarely seen in public wearing their full black uniforms;[citation needed] you would possibly see them providing protection within few federal buildings throughout the country.


"Simon Bolivar" satellite

The communications satellite "Simon Bolivar" released in 2008 was intended to achieve "absolute and secure handling of information" in the areas of telephony, data transmission and access to Internet for the DISIP. This would followed by the purchase of a second satellite "territorial observation and monitoring" which are still used today.

See also


  1. "Posada Carriles and his self-exiled Cuban cohorts held top positions in the DISIP during the late 1960s and early 1970s, utilizing the Venezuela intelligence division as a platform to wage their war against the Cuban Revolution. Venezuela became home to the largest Cuban exile community outside of Miami, and the base of operations for numerous terrorist activities that resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of innocent civilians in Cuba and abroad." - Venezuelanalysis, 29 June 2005, Venezuela Rejects CIA, But Opens Doors to FBI & DEA
  2. CIA declassified document 926816, October 13, 1976
  3. Human Rights Watch World Report 2001: Venezuela: Human Rights Developments
  4. HRW World Report 1999: Venezuela: Human Rights Developments
  5. Letter to President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (Human Rights Watch, 12-4-2004)
  6. 1997 AI Report
  7. 1998 AI Report
  8. "VENEZUELA Protestors in civil disturbances". Amnesty International. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  9. Venezuelan Disip to be now designated as Bolivarian Intelligence Service. ABN Accessed on December 4th, 2009
  10. "El Nuevo Herald: Gobierno gasta millones en espionaje electrónico de sus ciudadanos". La Patilla. 2 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  11. Filar, Ray (5 February 2013). "Venezuela 'spying' on Jewish community". The JC. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  12. "Venezuela spying on its Jews, documents reveal". The Times of Israel. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  13. Neuman, William (26 February 2014). "Venezuela Accuses Intelligence Officers of Murdering 2". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  14. "Foreign journal provides identity of shooters". El Universal. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  15. Gupta, Girish (17 February 2014). "Venezuelan security forces raid major opposition base". USA Today. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Abogados denuncian que el Sebin realiza seguimientos para amedrentarlos". El Nacional. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  17. Rhodan, Maya (9 March 2015). "White House Sanctions Seven Officials in Venezuela". Time. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Maria Delgado, Antonio (16 November 2014). "El régimen de Maduro mantiene una red de espías en Estados Unidos". El Nuevo Herald. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Expulsan a Cónsul de Venezuela en Miami mencionada en documental de Univision". Univision. 8 January 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "". BBC. 9 January 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  21. "U.S. expels Venezuelan diplomat in Miami". CNN. 9 January 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  22. Derby, Kevin (18 November 2014). "Nicolas Maduro's Regime Spies on Marco Rubio and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen". Sunshine State News. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 

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