Mérida, May 16, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Members of the opposition organization Democratic Parliamentary Forum filed a case against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for instituting the slogan "Homeland, socialism, or death" in the military. Chavez, who started using the slogan earlier this year, is accused of trying to "politicize" the military.
César Pérez Vivas, former assembly member of the political party COPEI and spokesperson for the Parliamentary Forum group, filed the suit today along with other opposition members for what they claim is the violation of articles 328 and 330 of the Venezuelan Constitution. The group of former assembly members say the president is guilty of "systematic and tenacious violation of the Constitution," and they demand that the Supreme Court order the president to stop violating it.
"We are taking this measure in order to put a stop to the President who is violating the Constitution by forcing upon the military ranks ‘socialism or death’," said Perez Vivas. "The Justices can make history by enforcing the Constitution or they can be accomplices to this wrongdoing," he said.
Among the evidence presented to the Court is a text given to the marines this month by Vice-Admiral Benigno Calvo in which he instructs them to use the "Homeland, socialism, or death" slogan in all acts of service, "especially when a subordinate addresses his superior officer, using it before asking permission to speak or to be dismissed."
The group also presented videos that show Chavez "obligating officials of the armed forces to use the slogan," said Perez Vivas to journalists. "We call on the officials and soldiers of Venezuela to not comply with these types of political orders," he said.
The NGO claims that this violates the constitution and that Chávez is trying to "politicize" the Armed Forces of Venezuela and "convert it into another element of his political party."
According to article 328 of the Venezuelan Constitution "The National Armed Forces constitutes an essentially professional institution, without political militancy, organized by the government to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the Nation…"
The legal team of the opposition group warned that the Armed Forces are "an institution at the service of the government and the nation in its totality. It protects its institutions, its sovereignty, and responds to all Venezuelans."
Head of Chavez’s military adviser, General Alberto Müller Rojas, however, praised the use of the slogan and claimed that the politicization of the Armed Forces is nothing new. Müller expressed that the National Armed Forces "has always been politicized," adding that "it has always obeyed the political partiality of each government." According to the General, the new order to use the slogan only makes official what in the past has always been done "secretly."
Contraalmirante Luis Cabrera also justified the action saying that "it does not imply the incorporation of the soldiers into a political party." In his opinion, "If the politics of the government are socialist, the armed forces should support it."
Also in support of the action, Army General Jose Albornoz Tineo urged the uniformed service members to "not be ashamed to say that they are followers of the political philosophy of the government."