Venezuela’s Military in the Hugo Chávez Era

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

In recent years President Hugo Chávez has become Washington’s ultimate Latin American nemesis, with the Venezuelan leader striving to bedevil the U.S. at every possible opportunity. While his rhetoric and flamboyant attitude might otherwise go unnoticed, Venezuela is an oil rich country and Chávez has used his ‘petro-dollars’ to upgrade his nation’s military, mostly through the purchase of Russian-weaponry, and has implemented a foreign policy that is breathtaking in its sweep and novelty.

The latest confrontation between the two adversaries took place on September 11, 2008, when President Chávez expelled the U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, Patrick Duddy, in solidarity with Bolivia’s leader, Evo Morales, who had taken the same action shortly before. Nerves were further stressed among Washington officials when, as part of upcoming military exercises in the Caribbean, two supersonic Russian bombers landed in Venezuela to take part in scheduled maneuvers.

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Russia And The Next Phase Of Nuclear Doctrine Part One By Nikita Petrov

Moscow (UPI) Sep 17, 2008
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has finished his visit to Warsaw. His talks with his Polish counterpart, Radoslaw Sikorski, focused on the situation in the Caucasus and the planned deployment of 10 U.S. anti-ballistic missile interceptors at Redzikowo, near Slupsk in northern Poland.

The Kremlin thinks the sole aim of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system in Europe is to undermine the counterstrike potential of the Russian strategic deterrence forces deployed in the Tver, Ivanovo, Saratov and Kaluga regions in central Russia. In fact, it will be a formidable threat to one-third of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force.

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Benjamin Dangl, “The Machine Gun and the Meeting Table: Bolivian Crisis in a New South America”

Source: MRzine

On Monday, September 15, Bolivian President Evo Morales arrived in Santiago, Chile for an emergency meeting of Latin American leaders that convened to seek a resolution to the recent conflict in Bolivia. Upon his arrival, Morales said, ‘I have come here to explain to the presidents of South America the civic coup d’etat by Governors in some Bolivian states in recent days. This is a coup in the past few days by the leaders of some provinces, with the takeover of some institutions, the sacking and robbery of some government institutions, and attempts to assault the national police and the armed forces.’

Morales was arriving from his country where the smoke was still rising from a week of right-wing government opposition violence that left the nation paralyzed, at least 30 people dead, and businesses, government, and human rights buildings destroyed. During the same week, Morales declared US ambassador in Bolivia Philip Goldberg a ‘persona non grata’ for ‘conspiring against democracy’ and for his ties to the Bolivian opposition. The recent conflict in Bolivia and the subsequent meeting of presidents raise the questions: What led to this meltdown? Whose side is the Bolivian military on? And what does the Bolivian crisis and regional reaction tell us about the new power bloc of South American nations?

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Bolivia: Fascism Seizes Power – Morales Complains By James Petras

Information Clearing House

17 September, 2008 — Bolivian fascists have seized power in five of the richest states in Bolivia, forcefully ousting all national officials, murdering, injuring and assaulting leaders, activists and voters who have backed the national government – with total impunity. Ever since Evo Morales was elected President over 33 months ago, the Bolivian far-right has taken advantage of every concession, compromise and conciliatory gesture by the Morales regime to expand their political power, block even the mildest social reforms and paralyze the functioning of the government, through legal maneuvers and gangs of violent street thugs.

While the Bolivian government has used state repression against peasant squatters and striking miners, it remained a passive, impotent spectator to the right-wing seizure of the Constitutional Assembly, the major airfields in Santa Cruz (forcing the President to flee back to his palace), suspending all public transportation, federal tax collection and public investment and projects. Worse still, paramilitary fascist gangs have repeatedly insulted, beaten, stripped and paraded ethnic Indian peasant supporters of President Morales through the main streets and plazas of the capital cities of the provinces they control.

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