Chavez Rejects Support of Venezuelan Pro-Government Guerrilla

Confirming the existence of a pro-gvernment guerilla force, the FBL, Chavez said during his weekly telelvision program that these should lay down their weapons and join in the country's development plans instead.

Caracas, October 4, 2004—During his weekly television program, “Hello President,” President Chavez said, in reaction to pronouncements of the Venezuelan pro-Chavez guerrilla group FBL (Fuerzas Bolivariana de Liberación – Bolivarian Liberation Forces), “I do not need a guerrilla. I am a soldier and I trust in the military. If it is true that you are Venezuelans and revolutionaries, sirs, turn in your weapons, come and plant coffee, and work in the Mission Vuelvan Caras.” Vuelvan Caras is an employment training program.

Chavez confirmed that “we have evidence that they do exist.” The FBL has long been rumored to be active in various parts of Venezuela, but the government has so far never confirmed its existence. In several communiqués they have said that they support the Chavez government and intend to defend it against paramilitaries and those who try to overthrow the Chavez government.

Chavez announced that, “the hour has come to advance and deepen the economic revolution.” Most of the program, which was aired from Tachira state, near the Venezuelan-Colombian border, was dedicated to the economic measures his government has taken, such as the restoration of a coffee plantation that was closed down three years ago. Now numerous small cooperatives plant and harvest coffee there. According to Chavez, his government would seek to increase coffee production until Venezuela regained its position as one of the world’s main coffee producers.

Also, Chavez said that yellow corn production, a Venezuelan food staple that Venezuela had previously imported almost entirely, has increased by 314% in the past year. Its import has declined by 67%. “We are practically self-sufficient and now we will think about exporting,” said Chavez. The agricultural development plan is part of an overall plan to make Venezuela self-sufficient with regard to food production.  This plan would “liberate us from the capitalist model,” said Chavez, “which the imperialists imposed on Venezuela.”

Chavez recommended a book by Osvaldo Sunkel, Development from the Inside, which “should be a study manual in centers of education at all levels.” Chavez added, “we must study neo-structuralism, how to make true independence.” Neo-structuralism is an approach to development economics that rejects market liberalization and instead emphasizes the role of the world economy in shaping a country’s development level. According to this theory, the state should actively reduce income differences and increase employment.

Chavez also announced that he would make a tour of European and Asian countries next month.