Venezuela’s Oligarchy Imports Soldiers Because It Cannot Recruit Them At Home

The very real threat of foreign intervention in Venezuela, as the recent discovery of a paramilitary group in Caracas proves, has obligated the Bolivarian process to heighten its preparedness for self-defense.

If anything has become clear following the discovery of an incursion of a significantly large paramilitary group into the country, it is that the “anti-Bolivarian and anti-Venezuelan oligarchy and its masters in the north” have not been able to recruit Venezuelan soldiers for their subversive objectives and “have been forced to recruit them in another country,” as expressed President Chavez in front of tens of thousands of people, who gathered in Caracas this past Sunday, May 16th, to demonstrate their rejection of paramilitary activity and to express their support for peace.

Since “the conspiracies against Venezuela do not end with the capture of mercenaries in Caracas,” there must be many other infiltrators in other areas of the country; since this is not an isolated action, but one whose efforts to stop the process continue, one can reach but only one conclusion: it is necessary to prepare oneself for self-defense. This is why the President considered it opportune to take advantage of the occasion and to announce three strategic lines for defending the country. The most radical proposal was a call for the population to massively participate in the defense of the nation.

A week earlier, on the 9th of May, on the outskirts of Caracas, a paramilitary force was discovered, dressed in field uniforms. Later, more were found, raising the total to 130, leaving open the possibility that there are still more in the country. The three Colombian paramilitary leaders of the group are members of the Autonomous Self-Defense Forces (AUC) in Northern Santander state in Colombia.

Some of the captured Colombian fighters have a long history as members of paramilitary forces. Others are reservists of the Colombian army and yet others were specifically recruited for the task in Venezuela and were surely tricked. Among these there are several who are minors.

A colonel of the Venezuelan air force was also detained, as well as seven officers of the National Guard. Among those implicated in the plot is a group of civilians headed by the Cuban Roberto Alonso, creator of the “guarimbas,”[1] and Gustavo Quintero Machado, a Venezuelan, both who are currently wanted by the Venezuelan justice system.

What the real objectives were is now being discussed. One of them could have been to steal weapons so as to then attack the Miraflores presidential palace and President Chavez himself.

The government denounced the existence of an international plot in which the governments of the United States and of Colombian would be involved. U.S. Ambassador Shapiro denied that his country had any participation in the incident. And the Colombian president, for his part, solidarized himself with the Venezuelan government, affirming that he supports its actions against the members of the irregular Colombian military group, which then caused Chavez to publicly announce that he was convinced that President Alvaro Uribe did not have anything to do with the plot, even though he insisted on leveling charges against a Colombian general by the name of Carreño.

Even though the oppositional media conducted a big campaign to minimize the issue, trying to accuse the government of having organized a montage, so as to have a pretext for taking forceful measures that would impede a confrontation at the voting booth, every day more evidence surfaces that confirm the official version.

The Colombian attorney general’s office has evidence that proves that paramilitary fighters were recruited and then transported to Venezuela and that extreme right-wing groups infiltrated intelligence services in the border town of Cúcuta. The proof was shown on the news program “The Independent Network.” The program broadcast some intercepted recordings of paramilitary soldiers in Cúcuta, in which the operations they carried out in Venezuelan territory are reviewed.

This is not the activity of the entire opposition. Most of the opposition appears to have learnt the lesson of the violent activity of this past March (as is known, most of Venezuela’s population rejected these actions).[2]

Nonetheless, radical groups within the opposition—among which are some couptist military officers—conscious of the insufficient electoral support that they enjoy, have decided to take the path of violence as the only way out. Among their inspirers is former president Carlos Andrés Pérez, who, in a Colombian radio program, revealed that they were looking to get rid of Chavez by force because they have realized that peacefully it would be impossible.

Aware that a group of the recruits are minors, “sons of poverty, who end up being recruited for narco-trafficking,” Chavez announced that they would not go to jail, offering them instead to return them to their families or to stay and study at a Bolivarian school, should they want to.

The Bolivarian leader maintained that the revolutionary Venezuelan process has entered into a new phase that he defined as anti-imperialist, which obligates clear thinking and consequent actions.

He then proceeded to insist in the need for advancing the agricultural reform program and the social and economic policies, announcing what he called the “Bolivarian Agenda 2006,” and referred to the three lines of strategic national defense.

The first line is related to the strengthening of the military component and in relation to this Chavez announced that the contingent that enters into the military would be increased and their training improved. Also, new theaters of operation would be created in various regions of the country, such as the central region. For this it would be necessary to acquire new weapons.

The second is related to a deepening of the civic-military union. He affirmed that this would be a severe blow against the coupist military officers that still are in the military and revealed that some officers had planned to take over an air base and to commandeer several fighter jets so as to drop bombs on the Miraflores presidential palace and other strategic sites.

The third line is about citizens’ active participation in national defense. This has to do with applying chapter VII of the constitution, which refers to national security and in which a co-responsibility is established between the state and civil society with regard to this issue.[3]

Basing himself on the constitution, President Chavez called on the people to integrate themselves into the defense of national sovereignty. He said that the reservists who will soon be about 100,000 are not enough, but that a massive incorporation of the people into national defense is necessary. Also, retired officers should incorporate themselves to support this task.

The Bolivarian revolution has no doubt entered into a new phase. It is not only necessary that the entire Venezuelan people assume its defense, but that international solidarity is deepened, in order to prevent any kind of foreign intervention.

Translated by Gregory Wilpert

[1] “Guarimba” was the strategy of sectors of the opposition to blockade neighborhood streets and to cause general unrest via confrontations with the police.

[3] The text states that if national security is the responsibility of the state, then “its defense is the responsibility of Venezuelans.” (Article 322) Further on it says, it is “the co-responsibility between state and civil society.” (Article 326)